Today started innocently enough. I woke up with high expectations: I planned to have a productive day after which I planned to run errands, cook and meet a friend. Then 5 PM came and not only had my to-do list grown, but none of my errands were done. I was late to meet my friend and I had neither cooked nor eaten. As I sat on the train and the conductor announced that there were delays due to construction, I found myself feeling defeated. Have you had one of those days?
In our age of technology it is a challenge to unplug: You find yourself answering work emails on vacation, taking work calls at night, and staying to finish tasks. Sometime last year, I started feeling burn out from work. I had, literally, cut out hanging out with friends and talking on the phone was swiftly replaced with texts and social media exchanges. I had to make deliberate changes to get my life back on track. These changes are very applicable to my personal life and I’d like to share how I approach a work-life balance. Side note; they are in bullet points for yal that don’t like to read 🙂
Plan! Plan! Plan!
At work, I have a digital calendar that has all my meetings and specific blocks of time weekly to achieve my assigned tasks. At a glance I can see what my week will look like and it allows me to plan additional tasks, as needed, over the course of the week.For my personal life, I bought a planner. That thing has my life organized! At the beginning of the month, I place all major events like birthdays, travel and weddings. I also add work commitments and to do lists. This planner allows me to anticipate my free time and accept social invitations without running into calendar conflicts. I can also tell if I need to buy an outfit for a wedding, save spending money for a trip etc. Figure out a way to simplify your routine
We all mentally do this at work and at home because it is a necessary process. But I’d like to suggest that you take it a little further and actually write down your to-do list on paper or your phone. You can develop a system of categorizing your list so that, at a glance, you are able to see which items take priority. I also include check boxes next to my lists and place check marks for items I have completed. It’s sort of a reward for me when I see progress I have made. It is something I learned from my college/graduate school roommate (same person BTW). Thanks roomie!
Simplify Your Routine
Just as it is at work, there are things in your life that you will have to do regularly. At work, you develop templates that you can modify easily from one project to the next. With your personal daily routine, there are things you can do to simplify your process. So, for example, if you have to do make up every morning and you are finding that it is making you late. Take one weekend to develop your five minute makeup routine. Alternatively, you can cut it out completely on those days where you don’t necessarily need it. Slap on a huge pair of sunnies and some lip balm and you are good to go to the grocery store. Just saying. If you cook, develop a meal prep system that allows you to shorten the time to cook your food. What I do is season my meat and freeze for easy cooking. I often cut up my veggies at once and use as needed. I also found a few crock pot hacks that allow me to slow cook meals that are ready by the end of my work day.
Ask for help.
As a manager, your job revolves around effective task delegation. You have to be keenly aware that you cannot do everything yourself and you have to trust your team to get the work done. Obviously, your friends and family don’t work for you but they are somewhat obligated to help J . I know it can be hard to ask for help to achieve certain things in your personal life but there should be no shame in your game. Ask for help to ease the burden and this will free up your time to do other things that are in your power to do. Ask my husband, I ask him to cook, clean and help with setting up electronics all the time! I might be a superwoman but it doesn’t mean I have to do everything.
So I already mentioned that work run me into the ground last year. I missed doctors’ appointments and completely stopped going to the gym. This resulted in me missing very clear signs that I was growing fibroids. By the end of the year, I just had to take time off work so I could surgically take care of my health issues. I find that staying healthy is a great way to manage time because being sick is a major time waster. Simple changes like eating healthy, exercising and managing your stress are ways to balance things out. 30 minutes of walking or gym time actually gives me energy to be social. Another thing I like to do is unplug from social media, work emails and my cell phone in general: my “moment of zen.”
At work I do this all the time! I often have to be on conference calls where I have to absorb information but not directly participate. I use this time to respond to non-essential emails and categorize the other emails for further follow up. This actually applies to my personal life. For example, eating and exercising can actually be social things. Next time you can invite a friend to a Zumba class or cook together in your kitchen.
OUTFIT DETAILS: Shoes (thrifted)// Bag (TUMI) // Shirt (Gap) // Skirt Suit ( Ted Baker) // Watch (Danielle Wellington) //
I would love to hear your ideas on how to maintain a work-life balance. I know I cannot be alone. Occasionally, you will have things go south in your life and it is totally OK. No one is perfect. The thing that separates people that are successful at achieving balance in their lives from people who are consumed by work is that one group tries several times to find that balance without giving up. Plus now you have my tips to try out! Go out and be a social butterfly. Or at least try 🙂
Pictures by @lcowart