Do 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?