This is one of those posts that I’m writing to myself, in hopes of being able to put these tips into practice in my own life. It’s something I’ve been thinking on for a while and it’s just really been hitting home over the last month as the boys have been home on summer break, which has made this work-life balance all the trickier!
In today’s world, it seems as though the busier you are (or at least appear to be), the more you’re applauded and looked up to. Our society embraces the go, go, go, work, work, work mentality to the fullest. And honestly, it’s tiring and draining, at least to this girl; who’d love to be spending a few hours each day laying here, reading and napping (…and eating, just keeping it real!). Okay, so maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to think I can have hours each day on the pallet swing, but I’d like to stop feeling like I’m barely keeping my head above water with all the different things I’m trying to juggle. Over the last year (or probably few years really), I’ve been struggling with trying to maintain some sort of balance and routine between work and life. Work being this blog and a couple other part time jobs I do from home, life being my family, home, and everything else. I’ve been working on some of these tips for quite a while in my life, others are ones I’m really needing to work on and incorporate into my life. So I thought I’d share what I’ve found to be helpful and what I’m trying to do, in hopes that it may inspire you!
Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance
Learn to use your time productively. This is one of my biggest struggles as I’m so guilty of sitting down to work, seeing an email pop up in my inbox, opening it and before I know it I’ve just spent the last hour clicking from article to article online, when I originally just started out reading one little email! So if I’m trying to meet a deadline, I’ve found it useful to close out my email, so I can’t see new messages appear and to not let myself get online until I’m done with whatever project I’m doing. Same goes for phone. It’s okay to not answer that phone call or respond to that text right away. Be mindful of what you’re trying to get done, stay on task and get rid of distractions.
Let it go. Things tend to slip through the cracks and you have to be okay with letting some of them go. You’re just not going to be able to get everything done when you want. Or sometimes even at all. A big one for me is housekeeping and house projects. I’m learning to be okay with a messier house and home projects taking months to finish because I’d rather spend that time with my family, instead of driving myself crazy having the perfect house.
Also, when mistakes happen, give yourself a break, and don’t beat yourself up over it. You’re human, it’s going to happen, and the world will keep on keeping on, even if you forgot to do something.
Get help. Whether it’s getting a babysitter for a few hours each week, finding an assistant to take care of those tasks that you just hate doing and keep you from doing the more important aspects of your job, or enlisting your spouse to help more around the house, get some help. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a strength to realize you can’t do it all and to delegate those other jobs!
Just say no. Let the D.A.R.E. motto rule your life for a bit and learn to just say no. This is a big one I’ve been working on for at least the last year. (And ties in with the tip below too). If you’ve got too much crammed into your days, it’s time to let a few things go. Don’t feel guilty for not volunteering for that latest project at your kid’s school, or for not keeping up with the Jones’. You can only do so much before you crash & burn and you’ll be no good to anybody, least of all yourself, if you spread yourself too thin.
Learn to be okay with your limits. Stop comparing yourself to what everyone else is accomplishing and go with what works for you. Just because it seems like someone is able to juggle a full-time job, while homeschooling 8 kids, maintaining a fabulous blog & social media accounts, and hosting farm-to-table dinners every weekend in their spotless homes, it does not mean you need to be doing that. There’s no better time than right now to embrace a minimal lifestyle, and that means you don’t need to be doing everything, even if it seems like everyone else is. You know how much you can handle, and you, and those in your life, will be happier when you set those limits and embrace them.
Streamline your errands. Running errands is just a necessary part of life, but it can end up taking up so much of your time! Start being picky about those errands – sometimes it’s not worth shopping around to find the best price if it’s going to suck up your whole afternoon. Writing a list of what you need from which stores is helpful too, that way you don’t forget something at a store and need to run back again.
Use a calendar. This is really more just about keeping your life and yourself a little more organized, which goes a long way in saving your sanity. I don’t have any fancy calendars/programs that I use for this. Just the basic calendar on my phone for life things – any and all things/appointments for myself & the boys go in here. I’m also a big fan of setting an alarm/reminders on my phone because I’m terrible at remembering things (I have to have an alarm set to go pick up the boys from the bus during the school year, because yes, I’ve forgotten to get them!). And then for work (this blog), Caitlin & I use Google Calendar to keep our projects & deadlines organized. We like it because it’s free, super simple & easy, and we can both access it.
Exercise. If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know that this is something that I’ve been working on this past year. And one of the greatest benefits from my running has been that overall, I feel happier and more energetic when I’m doing this regularly. I know that exercise releases good brain chemicals that make you feel happier, but I think it also helps to know that I’m taking the time to take care of myself.
Go tech-free. Declare an hour or two of your day tech-free, no phone, computer, tv, etc. Give yourself, and your brain (and typing fingers) a break. Get outside, breathe some fresh air and remember what life was like before we carried mini computers around in our pockets. If you have kids, do it during a time when they’re home and have them join in too!
Put downtime/fun time into your schedule. I know this may make some of you more spontaneous people roll your eyes, but if you tend to be a bit of a workaholic or have a hard time keeping your work life at work (really hard when you work from home!), it’s really important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself, and doing things just for the pleasure of doing it. And don’t feel guilty for taking that time, remember it’s making you a more productive person overall!I’m not even sure the work life balance is something that can be fully attained. But I know when I’m doing more of these things, I do feel more productive and happier over all. And with all this being said, I still feel so far from saying I’m even close to achieving this goal! A few weeks ago I was so overwhelmed by work and feeling like I wasn’t doing enough/being there enough as a mom, I spent an entire car ride on the way to pick up my boys, just crying from the stress of it all! But I am working on it. And as I’ve found in the past, sharing my struggles and my goals here on the blog seems to help keep me inspired & motivated! And I’ll take any and all the suggestions you may have for things that have worked for you!