photo of Lisa Thompson, Pearson Partners VP and Professional Career CoachDoes it feel that you can’t fit everything into a 24-hour day? The current environment has challenged many of us with conflicting demands on our time and energy. You may be working from home with children out of school and no daycare and with a spouse or family trying to work from the same space. You might be trying to manage video meetings and phone calls with pets and kids in the background seeking attention. It is a constant struggle to keep work from creeping into personal time while maintaining a semblance of boundaries and normalcy. These challenges are all part of our life recently and contribute to the busy and chaotic juggling act between work and personal time.

It can feel like you are stuck on a merry-go-round where you move in a circle but never really go anywhere. You may feel consumed by everything that you need to get done and everyone you need to please. It is time to find some balance in your life. Your time is precious, and it is important to budget it efficiently and effectively. Take a moment to step back and ask yourself if everything on your list must be done today. Can it be delegated or deleted from the list?

Here are five tips to help you maintain life balance:

1.      Set goals and priorities

Help yourself to work smarter. List your goals and priorities in writing so you can clarify what you want and what you need to accomplish. Goals give direction and a road map to get what you want out of life. To clearly define your goals, follow the basic SMART rules:

  • Is it Specific? What exactly do you need to achieve?
  • Is it Measurable? How will you measure progress and know when you have reached your goal?
  • Is it Achievable? Do you have the skills needed and the ability to achieve your goal?
  • Is it Relevant? What is the impact of achieving this goal?
  • Is it Timely? When does your goal need to be completed?

2.      Learn to say no

Once you have specified your goals and priorities, you can decide how to divide time between your work and personal life. Focus on what you can realistically do in the time you have available. Figure out the difference between what you must do or should do versus what you choose to do. How many things have you taken on and added to your to-do list because you didn’t have the courage to say no?

The next time you are asked to do something you don’t have time for, consider your options. Life is too short to spend it doing things you don’t really want or need to do. Before you agree to take on a new task or project, ask yourself if you are prepared to add the additional stress to your life.

3.      Take good care of yourself

Prior to every flight, you are told to put the oxygen mask over your own face first before attempting to assist others. This advice can be expanded to other priorities. With the overwhelming demands of our daily lives, it can be easy to overlook the need to take care of yourself and to make some time for yourself each day. Put time on your calendar for self-care. Use that time to maintain your health and energy. Give yourself something to look forward to every day. A break will help you replenish your energy and to stay focused on commitments.

4.      Let go of perfection

It may be time to admit that you can’t do everything perfectly and also get everything done. When you are focused on perfectionism, you are likely setting unrealistic standards for yourself and may struggle with the way you feel about yourself. Holding onto the need to do things perfectly sets you up for failure and can cause you to concentrate on what is wrong instead of what is positive. Give yourself credit for the things you have accomplished. Ask yourself what would happen if you didn’t do a task perfectly. Balancing your life requires some flexibility and a willingness to be less than perfect.

5.      Ask for help

If you find yourself thinking that the best way to get something done right is to do it yourself, you are not alone. Your way may be the best way for you, but it isn’t the only way. Delegation can free up time for you to accomplish more of your goals and priorities.

Asking for help takes practice and consideration. Let others know exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be completed. Make sure they have the information and tools to complete the task. However, if you are going to accept help from others, you may need to change your expectations and allow for people to do things differently than you would have done. Improving your delegation skills will greatly increase your effectiveness and give you more time to spend on other priorities.

Balancing your life takes effort and a willingness to be creative and explore new ways of doing things. Begin by reviewing your goals and priorities. This review will give you a good road map to get things accomplished. Say no to things that will rob you of precious time needed to balance your priorities. Remember to take care of yourself and carve out time to keep yourself healthy and energized. Not everything needs to be done perfectly. Instead, give yourself credit for all that you have accomplished. Learn to ask others for help and free up time for other aspects of your life. It’s time to find a new balance in your life.

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