Finding that utopian balance between living and producing is an ideal. Perfect balance will not likely be found in a world addicted to ubiquitous access to work. However, successful people will tell you that striving and fighting for this utopian state is critical. Intentionally pursuing time with family and friends and learning how to “turn off” your mind to the work you just left or the work ahead are the essential ingredients for a healthy, balanced life.
If you are feeling guilty or stressed because you feel out of balance or that your time is owned by someone else, relax, take a deep breath and consider these tricks that will get you on the right track.
Love What You Do — In the Moment
Moments are the only place we actually exist. However, it is easy to let your moments slip away by living in the past or thinking about the future. Balance happens in the moment. Whether it's work or play, you have the opportunity to be fully invested in the moment. If it’s a meeting with a client…be there 100%. If you are pushing your kids on a swing in the back yard…own that moment. If you hate your job…consider quitting.
Life is too short to waste your moments in a job where you can’t find some degree of fulfillment. However, before you quit reflect a moment on why you hate your job. If it’s a “you” issue more than a job issue, quitting won’t fix the problem because “you” are going with you. Every job has a purpose and fulfilling that purpose in the moment while you are at work can be rewarding.
Here is a great story about a high school janitor and the impact he has had on his school and students for 25 years. If Charles Clark can find significance in his job of scrubbing toilets then I am sure you can, too.
Get Up Early and Start Slowly
Successful people still have to plan, so be sure to schedule some ramp up time each day. Stress is a huge buzzkill to happiness, so why sleep until the last minute and then start your day rushing to work?
Instead, get up an hour earlier than you normally do, journal about things that are going on in your life, especially those things for which you are grateful. Take some time to plan out your day. Leave for work 15 minutes earlier than you have in the past. That way if you get stuck in traffic you’ll still have plenty of time. No traffic? Don’t worry about it, you just added a few minutes to your day.
Enjoy Tech-Free Zones
Break the addiction we all share with instant information by creating technology-free zones. You will be amazed at how much quality time this frees up. The average person looks at their phone a staggering 110 times per day. If you spend 30 seconds each time, you are losing nearly an hour per day. Carry that out to a year’s time and you are investing 15 days each year staring at your phone. That’s a 2 week vacation!
Technology-free zones help fight against this by having hard and fast rules about when technology is not allowed. This could be a day of the week or even events like going out to dinner. It saddens me to sit at a restaurant and look around at all the families who are sitting right next to each other but staring at their phones. So many wasted moments. When I get home from work, I head up stairs and put my phone on the charger next to my bed. I won’t look at it again until right before I go to bed. This creates a technology-free zone from 7PM-10PM each night.
This may sound counterintuitive. A lot of people believe that finding a good work / life balance means taking things off their plate. While it is true that you many have activities on your plate that don’t lead to proper work / life balance, determining what to put on your plate is just as important. Pouring yourself into service opportunities can be incredibly rewarding. Volunteering forces you to think about others and places you in a community of other people who are focused on serving the greater good. I’m involved with Naomi’s Village, an organization that takes care of orphans and educates kids in Kenya. There is hardly anything more rewarding in my opinion than being a part of something that is bigger than me.
A healthy body leads to healthy balance. Mentally, it helps you because you are actively doing something to take care of yourself. This boosts self-esteem and makes you a happier person. Exercise also relieves stress and makes it easier to rest and to recover.
Need to find a way to fit it into your already busy schedule? Consider multi-tasking and picking up a sport like tennis or basketball that you can play with your kids or friends. Now you’re spending quality “life” time with your family while you are getting exercise. If that doesn’t work, consider taking several 5-10 minute breaks during the day and knock out some pushups and sit-ups.
Taking the occasional three-day weekend trip is a great way to squeeze more life into your work / life balance. Annual week-long trips are great but also come with expense and stress. However, running away with your spouse or family is quick, easy, and can be incredibly affordable. We try to take a three-day trip each season. It often involves a 3-5 hour road trip and a cabin somewhere in Texas. The road trip is great for decompression and catching up with the family. Once there, we love to take hikes, play board games, etc. These trips are also technology-free zones.
None of these tricks are probably new to you. The real key is in being disciplined and intentional and not letting life just happen. You are either managing your life or someone else is managing it for you. Why don’t you pick one or two of these suggestions and just try them for 30 days?
Schedule the time and make it happen. Put an appointment on your calendar for 30 days from now and put this question in the note section, “Do I feel like I have more balance today than I did 30 days ago?” My guess is that if you work at it, then 30 days from now you will be more relaxed, feel more in control, and have more work / life balance. If this is the case, then pass it on to someone else.
Have you tried these tips? Let us know how it works out for you. Leave a comment below!