The desire to have a well-balanced and successful life is the norm for most people. We are continually searching for a manageable routine to handle our jobs, and home life. This search leads us to time management, the essential key to achieving those norms. Finding the time to satisfy important deadlines at work, run our own small business, take our ten year olds to soccer practice and gymnastics (these activities were previously scheduled on the weekend, but somehow changed to the middle of the week), or even care for a loved one with a terminal illness becomes increasingly difficult given the time that we have. This list is not inclusive of grocery shopping, dry cleaning drop off/pick up, and having dinner ready sometime before the Jimmy Kimmel Show. Not to mention a little “Me time”.
Research has shown that the happiest people are busy but not rushed. They don’t feel rushed partly because they have mastered their time management skills, by maximizing their time. Listed below are five essentials for achieving a successful well-balanced life also known as work-life balance.
1. Devise a priority list
You have to decide what is truly important to you. Think of this list as your goal sheet. So sit down and give this some thought before you start writing. Once your goals are clearly written, you will be able to visualize and stick to them. You will no longer walk around aimlessly from day to day. Place your professional and personal goals on the same list so that you can see the hierarchy in one plane view. Only set goals that are achievable, measurable, and specific.
2. Separate work and family life
Don’t bring your work home, if you can avoid it. Also don’t take your family (i.e.spousal) issues with you to work. Do whatever it is you need to do to leave those unresolved issues where they began before moving on to the next location. The reason I recommend this is to prevent resentment from someone within your household. While your spouse may never resent marrying you, he/she could start to resent your dreams if a void is introduced into the relationship. I have a new 80/20 Rule as it relates to productivity: 80% of the results your accomplish come from only 20% of the work you do. So why not hone in on that 20% so that you can maximize your productivity. The harvested energy that you reserve can now be used in other areas of your life. Keep in mind your employer may disagree with me.
3. Take stock in your life
Take one 24 hour period and write down EVERYTHING you do. This should happen one day during the week and one day during the weekend. Think of this as taking inventory of your daily activities. For example if you play Candy Crush for 20 minutes, gossip on the phone for 30 minutes, or travel during rush hour traffic for 45 minutes, etc. This is the only way you are going to recognize all of the things that you are doing that do not have or create a positive effect in your life. Translation: Anything that you are doing on a daily basis that didn’t make the list in #1…..CUT IT OUT!! You will not only discover that you actually do have time to do the things that are important to you, you will also see that your priority list/goal sheet becomes a reality. Finally under this section, it is imperative that you limit the exposure you give to people who have a bad or negative impact on your life. We’ll talk about positive thinking next.
4. Recognize signs of stress & manage it quickly
Muscle tension (especially located in the neck and back), frequent irritability, unexplained headaches, heart palpitations, sudden panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed/ overloaded, lack of sleep (which could also be the root cause of the unexplained headaches), weight gain/loss, increased/decreased appetite are the most common signs and symptoms of stress. (Check with your doctor for a complete list.) Help to manage stress levels by exercising regularly, eating healthy (fresh fruits and veggies go a long way) , incorporate a healthy sex life into your routine, and start having healthy conversations with positive people. Did you know that positive thinking reduces stress by 60%? Also I believe that meditation is key however often undervalued. Basic meditation focuses on clearing your mind so that you can focus solely on your breathing cycle or breathing phenomenon. This allows you in turn to see other phenomenons in your life with the same clarity. Lastly, I want you to know that there is power in prayer because prayer gives us the power to change things in our lives. Prayer also feeds your spiritual development.
5. Make a schedule (daily or weekly)
Making a schedule will keep you organized. Also if your schedule is in line with your priority list in #1, it will make you adhere to that list more efficiently. If you do not remember anything else in this section, please remember to schedule “downtime” with family, friends, or for yourself. This will give you something to look forward to and use this as an incentive to manage your time well. Keep in mind if someone else can do the job, then why not let them do it. Example: Can you hire a neighborhood kid to cut the grass? Can your grocery shopping be completed online and delivered? Can you freeze dinner and have hubby reheat it later? Finally, do something nice for yourself each and every week. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive. It just has to be nice because after all, you are worth it!