Many people search for the elusive “sense of balance” in their lives, which can help them feel as though all aspects of life are conducted in an equitable way. There are whole sections of bookstores full of books recommending how to achieve this balance, and people might look at websites or attend lectures given by motivational speakers to find out how to live a more balanced life. One of the key factors of achieving this sense of balance is time management, and other important things include learning how to organize time, how to say no to activities that throw life out of balance, and how to advocate in the workforce for ways in which all aspects of life can be managed more effectively.
Perhaps one of the best ways to determine if life is in balance is to make an assessment of how time is currently used. This should be as accurate and precise as possible. How many minutes does it take to commute to work? How much time is actually spent there? How does this compare to time spent pursuing pleasurable activities or spending time with family? Just as people might do with a budget list, taking an honest assessment of imbalanced factors and trimming where possible may help achieve a greater sense of balance.
Most people look at these lists and can feel highly frustrated. Maybe they sense they can’t change certain aspects of their life. Work will require people showing up and working a certain amount of hours. Kid’s participation in extracurricular activities seems necessary. Looking at this composed “time sheet” can make people feel as though there is nothing to cut and no way life will ever have a sense of balance.
When frustration feels high, put the list away for a few days. Then go back to it. For each item on that list ask whether it is actually necessary or merely desirable. For instance, it may seem a child needs to take ballet, acting and art classes, which means driving all over town and cutting down on time for family dinner. But truly, a child doesn’t need all these classes. Decide which one is most enjoyed and trim the other two off the list, providing more free time for child and parent.
Similarly, some work activities can be cut or curtailed. It isn’t necessary, under most circumstances to volunteer for extra work or be the person who always organizes extracurricular work activities. Achieving a sense of balance in one respect means being able to say no to extra activities that don’t fall within the province of the job for which a person is paid. It’s easy enough to say, “I need to spend some extra time at home right now,” as a simple excuse for withdrawing from certain activities.
Some companies have become more aware of workers’ needs for flexibility. While this won’t work in all cases, advocate for flextime schedules if a company doesn’t have them currently, and take advantage of them when they do. Sometimes merely shifting when a person heads to and departs from work can create a more balanced feel.
People should also look at things that may be combined. Can the trip to drop Jenny off for ballet include a trip to the grocery store too? Find things on the list, like watching three hours of TV at night or empty time of other types that can be cut and reorganized into meaningful activities. TV viewing could become family game night or a chance to take a yoga class.
When achieving a sense of balance is still difficult, it may be time to take advantage of some of the books on this topic. They generally have many more suggestions that can help people restructure time, find time to pursue joyful activities and learn to be assertive in the workplace. Even though it can take yet more time to read one of these books, in the end the result of having a more balanced life may be helpful.
Lastly, life will get out of balance at times. Some people believe the idea of “balance” is a myth. Complications arise, people get sick, jobs get lost and any number of things can occur that cause people to shift focus to a specific aspect of life. These situations usually do calm down after a while and allow people to return to more balanced living.