Work life balance is the ever-elusive Holy Grail. We’ve been told we can have it all, and we seem dead-set on pursuing it all until we self-implode.
Jessica Olmon suggests that there’s no such thing as work life balance, where all parts of your life get equal attention. Instead, she proposes the idea of work life harmony, where all aspects of your life can successfully coexist—if you’re clear on what’s important to you.
Set some goals.
Use whatever magic you prefer that helps you get to the heart of what you care about. The adage says, “Look at your calendar and your checkbook to see where your heart is.” If you decide that you want a shift in where you spend your time or money, keep that in mind as you plan your weeks and budget. If you’re happy putting in the minimum time at work because you want to be around for your small children at home, that’s great—identify that desire and plan for it. If you have a big career goal in the next five years, then dedicate the time needed to lay the required groundwork. Refer to your goals before you volunteer for time-consuming project and agree to it if it serves your goals. It’s ok to say no to an opportunity if it doesn’t serve your goals.
Audit your calendar.
Rachel Hollis mentioned this tactic in a recent podcast episode. Based on John Maxwell’s book “15 Invaluable Laws of Growth”, a yearend calendar audit is a strategy to reshape the next year based on what was a waste of time, what was productive and useful, and what makes you feel like you’re living your best life—things you’d like to have more of in the coming year. It’s the KonMarie method applied to your calendar: Once you see it all piled up together, you might realize how much junk is present in your life. During the next year, you can deliberately plan to do more of what brings you joy or growth.
Outsource your worsts tasks.
We all have tasks that steal our joy: We hate laundry or cooking or cleaning the house or making brownies for the bake sale. (Maybe we hate all those tasks!) Consider whether hiring someone to do your most-dreaded tasks would improve your life, perhaps by alleviating a hot-button issue in your marriage, increasing your overall efficiency or by simply freeing your time up to focus on other priorities. If your budget won’t allow for a regular outsourcing, consider your highest-stress and busiest times: Could you save up for ordering your Thanksgiving meal from a catering company? Or hire yard maintenance so your family can finally take a summer vacation?
Channel Elsa and let it go.
One of our favorites mantras is “Done is better than perfect,” because perfection often prevents progress. Too often, we dawdle with perfecting the last 10%, instead of accepting a 90% solution and moving on to the next task. The lure of perfection can prevent us from even starting a project, but if we consider task completion as the goal—along with education from the experience—maybe we won’t be stopped from getting it done just because it isn’t perfect.
The battle cry of the backlash against the rat race has become #selfcare—emphasizing strategic repositioning of priorities to make room for what we previously called “me time”. During your calendar audit, identify what activities rejuvenate you the most and enable you to give your best. Of course, research strongly supports that physical activity and meditation bring the biggest rewards, but maybe your self-care is comic book hero movies, pedicures, or FaceTime with a faraway friend. Whatever it is, schedule it in your calendar. It’s refreshing that tending to your own needs is in vogue right now. Besides the innate goodness of creating happier people, happier people are also better employees.
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