7 Tips on Finding Balance

7 Tips on Finding BalanceDo you ever feel like you’re sliding down a rabbit hole of ever increasing demands? I have, in fact I was recently feeling that way. I was juggling a number of activities and starting to wonder which would drop when instead I decided  to create a little more balance. Although I love many of the tasks I set for myself, they add up quickly and before I know it, I can start to feel as lost as Alice. A touch bewildered and overwhelmed and wondering where that Cheshire cat was. I decided that I would have to make some choices if I was going to meet my deadlines and achieve the personal goals I had set for myself. So here are some of the steps I took to get back my balance.

1) Assess: I had to take a close look at what I had to do each day and week and figure out a way to put it in order so that I wasn’t driving myself mad with activity or guilt because I wasn’t getting things done.

2) Prioritize: Next was taking a good look at what had to be done and figuring out what I could delay or cancel.  Bye-bye went my Saturday Morning Chit Chat posts (for a while any way) and slow, slow went the transformations I was doing on the house.

3) Simplify: Simplifying was looking at all the steps in the processes around me and determining if I could remove some.   I love following different blogs and providing comments, but for those blogs that post multiple times a week can be a difficult time juggle, so I decided to visit once a week and look at all the post from that week then. Less chaos and a nice treat when I get there.

For the day job, simplify meant taking the travel out of the job. Working from home means I get more done. There are less interruptions  but, I also get some of those home tasks done because I’m not spending that extra 40 minutes in the car. If you can’t work from home consider asking colleagues to give you a little alone time. Set specific hours to help you  get through some of the bigger or more complicated tasks you have at work.

4) Automate and Standardize: Next I started to look for tools that would help me to bring order to my growing flock of responsibilities. Most of those changes involved using technology to reduce the burden of activities I was carrying at work and home.  That activity is still in progress, but I have high hopes. It also means getting the electronic calendar organized so I’m not moving like a ping pong ball from activity to activity.

5) Acknowledge:  Acknowledging that many of the juggling acts I was facing were brought on by me was a big part of finding some calm. I’m not a rut kind of girl. I don’t like doing the same thing over and over again indefinitely so I am always looking for the new idea, challenge or approach, you name it, I’m on it.  I’m occasionally overwhelmed by change, but I’m rarely afraid of it.

If I’m going to take on new challenges, then I have to accept that some of the things I love won’t get done. It’s my job to ensure that the important jobs are completed and the less critical work is what slides.

6) Strategy: Whatever the solution might be, I know I need the space to think strategically about it. If I’ve taken on a series of activities or been given too many additional responsibilities, I need to get to the root of the problem and deal with it. This may mean putting aside a couple of hours to determine what’s causing the chaos and how I might address it.  It could mean taking a couple of days or weeks.  Whatever the challenge, taking the time required to resolve the situation will inevitably be more productive, cost efficient and sane than trying to manage the impossible.

7) Exercise: It’s important to note that when the time crunch started to be felt I added more, not less exercise to my schedule and I’m looking to incorporate more still. I’m not a fitness guru by anyone’s stretch of imagination, but exercise helps me to stay more alert and agile mentally and physically.

So how do you find the balance between doing what you love, loving what you do and finding time for those you love? 

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0 responses to “7 Tips on Finding Balance

  • I really enjoyed this article, Debra and hopefully I can start acting on some of the suggestions.

  • Since I decided to give myself some slack and realised that on my sick days I do the minimum or I can go on holidays and the blog wont fall over. Interesting that when you do the steps you have outlined you can find balance. Re-prioritising is a big one for me.

  • I hear you Debra, I also have so much going on blog-wise that I sometimes feel I never get anything done. I think laying it all out and prioritizing can be a real plus. Otherwise it all starts to get you down. And then I also have to focus on my exercise too, to get my previously broken leg back on track – so I bought a fitbit to make sure I do at least 10,000 steps a day. Doesn’t always work, but makes me aware of when I am being lazy :>

    • Ashley you are the second person to mention using a fitbit. I think I should take the hint and get one myself.:) It’s not so much about doing a specific thing in a schedule as much as it is for me to be conscious of getting exercise when I can.

  • Glynis Jolly says:
    October 7, 2013 @ 09:12 am

    I have found that automating doesn’t help me all that much. I seem to need hands on as much as possible. Still, I do have a calendar on the desktop of my computer that does give me alerts to upcoming events. It hasn’t really helped because I’m a clock-watcher, but it does serve as a comfort for just in case I forget to look at the clock.

    I have yet to find a strategy that works. Most of the problem is that husband’s hours of work keep on changing.

    • Glynis when my husband was doing his masters I thought I’d go mad because it was so disruptive. Eventually I just found a space in our home I could call my own (and went into the office more) and set my own time regardless of what he was doing. It’s challenging finding your equilibrium when you’re not the only one who influences it.

  • Hi, Debra-
    I’ve been doing the same thing, as far as re-evaluating and trying to find balance so I can accomplish at least the top priorities of the day/week. Some parts are easy to push aside, such as less karaoke. However, I wanted to celebrate for my birthday this past week. It was fun and at the same time it put me behind on what is really my focus. I wish I could say exercise increases as the busy-ness of life does. It’s great that you can do that and it is totally my goal! This past week I was behind on homework and had to miss my personal training workout, which physically makes me feel lousy not to keep up.
    I figure that all I can do is keep on tweaking as needed and eventually my cat will be tired of seeing me so much, my house will not look as cluttered as it does right now because cleaning will be a priority instead of schoolwork, and I’ll hang at home instead of elsewhere for peace and quiet and focus.
    Thanks for the topic!

    • Celebrating life’s milestones has to be part of the busy stuff or we’re definitely not achieving balance. And before you applaud me too broadly, its easy to increase exercise when you’re not doing that much in the first place :).

  • As you can see from the comments, I think we all struggle with juggling too many activities. I have to admit mine are self-inflicted. I’m like you, Debra, I like to try new things. But I find myself working later and later into the evening. Not good. I attend a lot of cultural events. Honestly, I don’t now what the true answer is. I guess I’ll just keep muddling along!

    • Jeannette, I’m so glad you said what you did. It sometimes is a question of just muddling through. I know I have a few more weeks of silly busy ahead, but it will slow down and stop eventually, so all I have to do is hold on until things calm down..

  • Finding a balance is such a hard thing. I always try to get so much accomplished and when I do not, I sometimes chastise myself. This past week I have been entertaining some wonderful out of state friends and have been letting may things slide this week. I will be a busy bee once again very soon. 🙂 Where’s my balance?

    • Susan I have watched in amazement as you produce multiple posts each week and I ways wonder how you manage. Recipes need to be tested and I know from personal experience that yours are sound. You also produce videos…that takes time and planning. How you manage a social life is is beyond me, but the fact that you do is all about your ability to find balance. 🙂

  • What a great post – not that i have expected otherwise LOL

    All the tips are great and i use them all the time, with prioritizing being the most important one as if i fail to prioritize, i end up chasing my tail and not doing anything end of the day 🙁

    I am not much of an exercise person but i like to take walks. Helps me clear my head and gather my thoughts. Besides, stepping away from my work for a while usually recharges my batteries for more productive work afterwards 😉

    Not sure what tip i could add for achieving balance – you have outlined a great list here! But i could add 1 tip for when the panic kicks in that you have sooo much more to do. I used to get overwhelmed with my long to-do list all the time; i still do sometimes (although rarely) when i don’t estimate my time and tasks well. Then i simply look back at the items which i have already crossed off my list – it gives me reassurance that something IS getting done, even at a slower pace than anticipated. I do one task at a time without thinking what’s next – only what am i doing now. And items get crossed off gradually.

    Oh, wait – i remembered, there IS a tip i would add to the list for finding your balance. Don’t try to do everything there is to do TODAY. I like to say that there will always be more work to do than what we can do today… so, it’s ok to leave some for tomorrow too – as long as we prioritize 😀

    I will miss you tomorrow but then again, have a VERY productive few weeks and see you on Tuesdays only instead 😉

    • Great comments Diana and thank you for the kind words. I like the idea of not trying to do it all today. It seems simple, but when your looking at a mountain of things to do, you can get into a “move it at all costs” mindset which is counter productive. I will admit that my instinct is to try to get it all in as fast as possible so I can get the next batch of things done…not smart, not effective and does not lead to beautiful results.

      By the way, I am NOT an exercise person as my waistline will attest, 🙂 and doubt I ever will be. I just move more when I need to think more. 🙂

  • I can be a workaholic, but thankfully I can be a bit of a shameful hedonist as well. Moving really through me off track, but my routine is gradually coming back to me. I always struggle with prioritizing. I’m also bad at working at my desk for too long without taking a break. I’ve been meaning to try a timer app so i will get habituated to taking small breaks. I also got a fitbit a couple of weeks ago. Now I can keep track of how many steps I take every day. Plus, with winter coming coupled with no longer living in the South, a treadmill is on its way. There’s no way I’ll be jogging in 5-degree weather! It’s funny (or kinda sad and frustrating) how my work from home schedule is starting to mimic the teacher schedule I used to keep. I constantly remind myself to take time for hobbies, etc. Otherwise, I probably would just work all the time.

    • I like the balance between hedonist and workaholic, makes for well rounded people. 🙂 I used a tracker a few years ago and found that I moved way more with it, thank you for the reminder. It’s a simple tool but it works.

  • Strange, I can take on alot of projects and stuff. But I only feel like I’m “juggling” when deadlines approach. Even though everything is “on time” I still feel overwhelmed when deadlines get nearer…maybe some type of anxiety related to showing to my work?

    • I don’t know if it’s anxiety about showing work, but I certainly find that deadlines have a shocking way of putting everything into perspective, but then I suppose that’s their job or we would call them “suggested delivery dates”. 🙂

  • Debra- Great information as usual. Just recently I had an epiphany. I have gotten so in trenched with my business, I wasn’t doing anything but my business. I roll out of bed in the morning and I am on the computer NON stop until about 10:00. PM at night. It was my dog that made me see what was going on. As you know I do agility with my dog. I have been going to expensive trainers and everyone has an opinion. It seems when we get to a trial and we have to run the course, my dog blows me off. I asked my husband to run in the yard a course with her and she ran for him. He then said I am doing this. But it hit me. I spend so much time on the computer, that how could I expect my dog to work for me when I don’t spend any playtime with her.

    I am not doing most of the steps you suggested. The interesting thing is that everything gets done without spending so much of my time on the computer.

    • Wow, I know how much you enjoy the agility training, so that must have been a shock, but what a valuable lesson. Sometimes we need a little push to realize what we’re doing.

  • I am in adjustment period again right now. I go through different phases throughout the year based on when I have people at home all the time or when they are all in school and work. When school started again I became the nanny for the grand child so that meant adjusting my work schedule around times I need to watch her.

    • Wow, now there’s a shift. From home alone to home with a grand child is huge. After spending most of the winter alone, my husband joined me in March to work on his masters (completely threw me off). By the time he was done and back to work, the children were close to starting their summer vacation…I won’t go there. At this point with them at school and my husband back at work, I am in heaven. 🙂

  • Wow is this timely for me!First, I am in total agreement with you regarding exercise. It’s a big part of me finding mental agility. I notice a big difference if I have to take off for surgery or some other reason that I’ve no control over. But prioritizing always seems to be the issue, because I think that EVERYTHING is important! So I’m working on that part of the matrix. But overwhelmed? I’m feeling it so much these days! I’m going to print this post so I can keep referring to it!

    • Everything IS important, that’s the problem. I have to acknowledge that I love everything but can’t do everything and that is very hard.

      I am my own worst enemy on the topic of exercise. I know what exercise does for me, yet I will find ways to avoid it unless it is hidden in fun. Soccer is not exercise and neither is yoga. Walking on the treadmill? Using weights? Ugh, that’s exercise. 🙂

  • Um…balance? I have no balance. I just do what I need to do when I need to do it! 🙂

    Seriously, though, I try to do as much as I can each day. Sometimes it’s tough, sometimes it’s not. I do a lot of reading, and that takes up a lot of time. Writing sometimes takes me hours, but if I am inspired, it doesn’t seem to take as long, which is nice. Usually, if I get tired of doing one particular thing, I’ll move onto something else. I’m lucky, though, in that my son is grown and I no longer have to keep a watchful eye on him. Being single helps, too, since I don’t always have another person to consider.

    Things weren’t always this way, though. I can remember the days when I had to attend university classes after dropping my son off at the sitter’s, then coming home and taking him to another sitters after feeding him supper, then taking the city bus to my night class. Ugh. I hated those days! I loved the days when I could stay home and just read from my text, taking notes, and just showing up to write tests. I did this for two of my psychology courses. By then, my son was in school, too.

    I think that if more people realized that their situations are temporary, they wouldn’t get so stressed out…even if they think that their situations may never change. They will. Trust me on that one.

    • GREAT points. Because change is inevitable, that also means that it is temporary, things will change again. I also like the point you make about “us” changing even if the external change is a long time coming.

  • The best I can think of is forgiving myself for not doing all. Family comes first, except when someone is asking for more than needed. Clients are tops, but they too can wait a bit. Blogging is great, but I need forgive myself for not blogging as much as ideal. For me, I would change exercise to a walk in the sun. Indoor exercise is not my thing.

    • What a wonderful point you make about forgiving yourself. We can be so harsh with ourselves.

      I play soccer in a big dome all winter…it feels like outside and is not bad in the middle of the winter when warm sun is a distant memory. Yoga is in a basement, so no points there, but I do enjoy it. Exercise is good when it doesn’t make me think of exercise. 🙂

  • Debra, I’ve practically been waiting for this post of yours! I mean, I’ve been walking around wondering how you manage to post twice a week, do your full-time job, visit and comment on so many blogs, and also have a family life. It makes perfect sense to me that you’ll stop posting for now on Saturdays. Writing is really time-consuming, even when you love doing it, as you and I do.

    Like you, I love to exercise. It definitely creates balance. Best of all is when I can use my body for transportation. For example, I love bicycling to my carpool partner’s house (it involves a big hill, so I get to feel like Jane Jock).

    Connecting with nature, with my community, and with God feel like my foundations for quality of life (I call it my diamond-cut life). To stay connected to all those, I find I have got to be flexible about how my house looks, as in NOT BEING PERFECTIONISTIC about it. It takes way too much time to keep everything put away and spick-and-span at all times (my husband has no instinct for picking up after himself). Relaxing my standards on appearances creates balance in my life. It’s the relationships that count, not the appearances.

    • I laughed when I read your comment. Who says you can’t make friends who know you online? 🙂 It has been a busy, busy time, but I’ll say things were fine as long as work didn’t go nuts and renovations to the house weren’t happening and I wasn’t starting another project in my free time…once all that happened, all bets were off and something had to give.

      I wouldn’t describe my relationship with exercise as love, but we have been acquaintances for a few years. I am hoping to develop deeper ties with time. 🙂

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