Is a Work/Life Balance Attainable?
Author: Lori Pender
I am not a morning person. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I greet every morning with utter disdain. Mornings to me mean starting that daily exhausting grind all over again. A never-ending cycle of incomplete tasks, goals that need to be met, striving to be everything for everyone and Pinterest. Yes, Pinterest. Pictures of beautifully decorated, completely uncluttered homes, the highlights from people’s lives who seem to have it all together. Oh how I want to be those people when I grow up. How do they do it?
The truth is, NOBODY has it all together. Those beautiful, uncluttered pictures are just that…snapshots. Snapshots that don’t show what all the other rooms in their house look like, where I am convinced they have shoved all their clutter. They don’t show the toddler behind the scenes who just colored all over the perfect how-to template they just created so that you too can create this glorious unattainable utopia. They don’t tell you that in the time it took to set up those photos, dinner was burning on the stove in the kitchen.
Reigning in the chaos that everyday life can bring is a hard reality that we all struggle with. A big part of my career is teaching other people how to be more efficient and organized at work. Does this mean that I have it all figured out? Not even close. Any advice I give or tips I share are a direct result of what I have learned from my own shortcomings and how I’ve had to adapt them in order to keep from tearing my hair out every morning.
I can’t promise you a utopian life with picture perfect balance but I can offer you some strategies I have learned that can hopefully help you manage the chaos of life while keeping your sanity in check.
One Planner for Everything
The last thing we need is one more thing to keep track of. Having different planners for different purposes only invites scheduling mishaps and confusion. I use one planner for work and for my personal life. Whether you are a paper and pen person or a digital warrior, make it work for everything your life needs. Some of the things I use my planner for are:
- Daily/Weekly Tasks – At the beginning of each week, I write down every single task that needs my attention and any deadlines that need to be considered. These tasks are divided into one of two columns: Work or Home. Once that is complete, I then assign each task to a specific day of the week based on my availability with appointments in mind.
- Meal Planning – I make a dinner plan for every day of the week (even if it is just eating out or ordering pizza). I then add the needed items to my shopping list.
- Daily/Weekly Chores – I have a set cleaning schedule for every day of the week. One room a day. I work from home but I don’t have the time to devote an entire day to cleaning. When it comes to chores, I utilize two very important tools that I will go into more detail about later.
- Bill Tracking – I write down when every bill is due along with paydays so I know just how much I have to work with at any given time during the month.
- Habit Tracking – We all have certain personal habits we need to stay on top of so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. This can be anything from exercise, taking our vitamins or carving out quiet time to read our Bible and pray. I have a checkbox for each day of the week that helps me stay on track.
I tend to be a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of gal. This one was a difficult one for me to implement because my natural tendency is to see where the day takes me and deal with things as they come. Unfortunately, this usually results in a lot of things falling through the cracks and the feeling of being unproductive. Chores always seem to be the easiest to brush off until later. Time blocking forces me to deal with the task at hand and get it off my plate. Future me always thanks me for this.
The Pomodoro Technique
This is a big one for me when it comes to chores. Nobody enjoys doing chores but we love the results. For procrastinators like me, this technique is a breath of fresh air! All you do is set a timer (usually somewhere between 15-20 minutes) and focus on one task completely until your timer goes off. You would be AMAZED at how much you can accomplish in 15 minutes…especially when you view it as a personal competition. And once that time goes off…you’re DONE. You get to mark off that tedious task and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Last but not least, give yourself some grace! Constantly remind yourself that the ultimate goal is PROGRESS not perfection! Let me say that again…strive for progress NOT perfection. Nothing kills motivation or a sense of accomplishment like running in a constant hamster wheel trying to achieve perfection. It’s ok to not be perfect. I’ll let you in on a secret…no one is.