…Emily’s soccer practice at 3:00,
Sean’s science meeting at 3:30 (make sure to bring snack!), Laundromat (John’s work shirts, favorite suit, wool jacket), Sean’s football game at 5:00, Emily’s flute lessons at 6:00, dinner at home for Emily and John, bring laptop to game to work on power point presentations for tomorrow’s meeting, homework (don’t forget to check it!), lunches for tomorrow, fold wash… And that’s just this afternoon’s checklist. Sound familiar?
Life is much more complicated today than it was a few years ago – whether your title is parent, teacher, executive, or even neighborhood slacker. We all have responsibilities, obligations, and lists of things that need to be completed. Oftentimes, these things not only have a need but a when, where, and how attached to them. The key is to find a balance that allows productivity and breathability. Easier said than done! One way to achieve this is to analyze the five “W’s” in life: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and don’t forget How) – and how managing these can lead to a more balanced way of living.
This is probably the biggest question of all, and it has many elements. Of course, you have to be the “who”- the one who organizes, does, moves, and ultimately decides what will and will not happen in your life. It is very easy to ride the wave rather than make waves.
Remember this – you are the most important person in your life. You should never be ashamed, afraid, or anything less than proud to be in charge of who and what you are. That being said, it’s also up to you to make the first step in re-prioritizing yourself to the top of the balance food chain. Think of the things in life where you feel like you are being taken advantage of.
It may be as simple as letting the people in your life know that 4pm is your workout hour and as deeply etched into your scheduled as the weekly agenda meeting. Sometimes it’s being more aggressive about your importance. As you become used to more adept at taking charge of yourself and your time it will be easier and much more gratifying. You may even find more time to do things!
What in your life is honestly that important that occasionally you can’t put it aside and have cocktails with friends? Very little! The exception to this rule, of course, would be giving birth, family weddings, and the occasional set of stitches after flag football. Other than that, there is always another day to clean out the refrigerator.
When can you put your life into a more sensible routine? Is there any better time than right now? The quicker you take a look at your day to day, prioritize, de-clutter, put asterisks next to what has to be done and question marks next to the things that can wait, the sooner you will be able to sit down with your drink of choice (coffee, tea, beer) and breathe. Remember,
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” [Ecclesiastes 3:1]
This question examines the deeper part of the balance equation- where in your life have you found a balance and what is throwing things off kilter? Many people may have a stable and supportive family life, but they know that ten hours of overtime that they spend most weeks at work is keeping them from being able to finish their online course and causing anxiety. Sit down and have a “chat” with yourself. If that doesn’t help, reach out to people you trust and care about. Once you know something that needs adjustment, see the earlier questions and refer to the “where” as often as you need until you find you’ve obtained a more Zen lifestyle.
This is a great question – because everyone deserves to live a happy and meaningful life. Repeat as necessary.
"How do I make this happen?" is the most important and broadest of all to ask, largely because there is no solitary answer. Sometimes, figuring out how to simplify your work/life balance is as easy as getting rid of the extra steps, occasionally it’s just taking a stand for what is important to you, often its reminding yourself and those around you that you’re priorities and time is no more disposable than their time. “How” you find balance will take time, patience, a few deep breaths, and may possibly cause a few tears or outbursts. Never lose sight of the pot of gold at the end of this journey and the lifestyle you are working so hard to obtain.
Everyone has some point in life where they want to pull their hair out, throw in the towel, and fall into a puddle on the floor. It’s at those times that it is the most important to stand tall, step away from the chaos, and just ask a few difficult questions.
In the words of the great Dr. Seuss, “So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed).”
Cheers to a level tomorrow!
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Like this article? Check out other great pieces from our new contributor, Beth Henke:
Beth Henke is a personal trainer and group exercise instructor who believes that all things in life should be savored in moderation. That being said, when it comes to fitness, find something you can be passionate about and you will never just be working out - but enjoying another page in your life. Take care of yourself as you would others, never say never, and push-ups really are good medicine.