“Wow. How do you balance everything?”
This is what a woman asked me a couple of days ago, and I get a variation of this question almost every single week. After thinking it over, I finally said, “I just work really hard.”
But the other person seemed genuinely interested—and maybe a little skeptical—on how I’m able to balance a busy life. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to write about it.
I should say first and foremost that I don’t feel like my life is that busy.
It used to be busy, though. I spent seven plus years working around the clock, nights and weekends, to pursue goals and dreams. Now, I get to take Saturday and most of Sunday off almost every single week. This just started happening in the last six months, and it’s been an absolute gift. I love it. At times, I don’t know what to do with all my free time! (But then I remember I have a toddler.)
Still, I’ll admit that I’m able to accomplish a lot in a relatively short period. Here’s a rundown of my life right now. I’m:
- Running a business and supporting my family financially
- Working toward business goals outside of my normal workday
- Finishing my master’s degree
- Training for a marathon
- Building a local editors association
- Participating in a professional development group once a month
- Speaking about twice a month
- Being a mommy to a sweet but strong-willed toddler (this may be the most tiring and wonderful item on the list)
There’s much more I’m probably forgetting, but at least that gives you a pretty good idea of my life right now. The girl who asked, “How do you balance everything?” only knew of three items on the list (master’s, business, toddler). To answer you, dear woman, here are some strategies to (sort of) balance it all:
#1 Set goals and plan your days
I know where I’m headed and what I’m working for. Each day, I start by identifying the “must do” items and then plan how to fill my time if I finish early. I usually assign a time frame, too.
#2 Maintain intense focus
I rarely let social media or other distractions keep me from my work. Writing doesn’t do itself, and neither does editing, book coaching, speaking, or even invoicing.
#3 Separate between “I’m not feeling it” and “I legitimately need a break”
There are times when I’m just mentally foggy or worn out—and I’m the first to admit that a day off is better than staring at the computer and getting nothing done. But I can also recognize when I’m just feeling lazy and need to push through it to get my work done.
#4 Get help when you need it
I’m still learning this one. In my business, I’ve found that having a solid list of dependable subcontractors is important when a task (like business finances) is draining my energy, and I can hire someone else to do just as good of a job. In my personal life, I’ve learned to lean on friends and family when I really need it.
#5 Choose your life partner carefully
I am an extremely lucky wife because my husband does more than his fair share of the domestic duties. He cooks, cleans, cares for our little one and is just the best partner I could ever ask for. He is also my biggest fan and consistently builds me up and encourages me. My life would be very different without him.
#6 Exercise regularly
This is critical. Yes, I’m training for a marathon, and it’s a lot of work and time. But it also gives me a ton of energy to get other tasks done. Running and doing yoga sharpen my brain to improve focus, alertness, and concentration. Working out also gives me more confidence because I feel great about myself (which is important in speaking, especially). Plus, the “me” time keeps me mentally balanced and refreshed so I can focus more energy on my family during time off.
#7 Eat healthy food
Getting great nutrition helps me have the energy I need to get tasks done. I’m also sick less often, so I don’t have to miss much work due to illness.
#8 Don’t watch television
Did you know the average person watches almost three hours of television a night? Imagine what you could do with all that time! My husband and I sometimes watch a movie on Fridays or Saturdays, but it is extremely rare for us to watch television on a weeknight—there just isn’t enough time. (And I can’t sit still that long, anyway.)
#9 Know your house won’t be perfect
I have had to accept that the coffee table might not be dusted and the laundry may be in baskets for a few days. That is life. I’d rather feel fulfilled than focus on the shortcomings in our home. We try to keep our home tidy and clean, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.
I don’t have it all figured out by any means, and I know I will find ways to improve as the years go by. I don’t know if “balance” is completely possible, especially as a mom. But I try. And I’ll keep trying.
Question: What strategies can you add? Do you struggle to find balance?