Balance is a sticky subject among many people. We have careers, partners, children, family commitments, classes, hobbies—plus, big desires to improve our health. How can one possibly balance so many things?
Harmony means everything is co-existing in a spirit of cooperation. But whatever you want to call it —harmony, balance, or “fitting it all in”— there is a secret to doing more of what you want and less of what you don’t want.
Ready to dive in and make a few changes? Give these tips a try and see how much more harmonious your life can be. No balance required.
1. Pick and choose. Once you’ve decided which responsibilities and relationships you find most important, it’s all about prioritizing and remind yourself that you’re making progress where you believe it really counts.
2. Keep track. One of the first steps to figuring out how we can spend more time on the things that are really meaningful to us is learning how much time we currently spend on all our activities. For one week, try keeping a log of everything you do, from washing laundry to browsing Pinterest. Then go over the lists, pinpoint potential “time sucks,” share your concerns with your family and coworkers, and create an action plan for refocusing on the activities that really matter to you.
3. Squeeze it in. In an ideal world, we’d be able to spend two hours lunching with friends every day and attend salsa lessons every night. But sometimes it’s more realistic to grab coffee with a friend and go dancing every other weekend. This schedule might not be exactly what we’d like, but it’s certainly preferable to not socializing or letting loose at all. Let yourself enjoy the time you do have, instead of lamenting the time you don’t.
4. Seek support. Ultimately, work-life balance is about finding a way to juggle all the different kinds of relationships in our lives. So don’t be shy about asking other people to help you manage your responsibilities. Talk to coworkers about filling in for each other when one of you has an outside commitment, or to family members about sharing dog-walking or babysitting responsibilities on days when someone needs to stay late at the office
5. Rock to your own rhythm. People vary widely in terms of when they’re most creative, energetic, and productive. Think about how your own abilities evolve throughout the day—if you’re most alert in the mornings, try getting to the office early; if you really come alive after 9pm, consider creating a less traditional work schedule. That way, you won’t feel like you’re wasting valuable time at work when you’re half-zoned out anyway.
The only certainty is that no single technique works for everyone. The key is finding out what’s most important to you—in your career as well as in your personal life—and making sure you prioritize it in your daily schedule. And remember that in the quest for work-life harmony we’ll never achieve perfection. There will be nights when we miss dinner with our partner because we stayed late at the office, and days when we skip a staff meeting to bring a friend to an emergency appointment. What matters is that we create a personally meaningful life that helps us feel happy and healthy overall.