This post was sponsored by domain .ME; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Work/Life Balance. . .ME Time . . .it seems like some sort of cruel joke some days. How can any sane person manage to balance a full career with a full life, including some time just for ourselves? Not to mention how selfish taking time for ourselves can make us feel. I've come to think of it as more of a juggle than a balance.
Face it, I will never be giving 100% to both my work and my life/kids at the same time - it's impossible (Everyday Math taught me that). But I can dedicate myself 100% (or 99.9%) at a particular moment in time to my work OR to my family OR to myself. Many times we think of the work/life balance to mean only job vs family (kids) . . . but life is much more than that. It's our health, spiritual fulfillment AND family.
Here are the 5 secrets that help me juggle my work/life balance to maximize ME time:
Use Your Calendar to Schedule Time Calendars are great - but the key here is to use it and get into the habit of recording everything. I work best on paper with color-coding. My appointments are pink, John's are dark blue, Ryan's are green and Owen's are light blue. All family events are in red. The color-coding saves me the time of writing who the event pertains to - I know automatically based on the color it's written in. When I first started this process, I needed to put a color key on the calendar so we could all remember. The color-coding also allows you to easily see what's taking the most of your time. Don't see enough fun stuff in your own color? Then you need to make a change!
Set Office Hours to Free Up Time We all have better times in our day for working. If you hold a job outside the home, this becomes a little bit easier. If you work from home, spend a few days charting how you spend your time, and then block off these working hours on your calendar. It may be 2 hours in the morning, another during naptime and then a few hours after the kids are in bed. Generally, I set 9 - 3 as my office hours. I may schedule personal time in there on days that my workload is lighter (or schedule a lunch date with a friend), but that is the time that work is my focus. And with set office hours, I can use the other hours in my day for family and myself without feeling guilty.
Plan Family Time to Reduce Guilt If I feel as if I haven't been spending enough time with my kids and husband, I feel guilty scheduling time to do something just for me. A great way to ease the guilt is to make a conscious effort to put some play dates with you and your kids on the calendar. Do they have a day off from school? Make a plan with them where you work in the morning and then you all go out and do something together in the afternoon. Take a drive as a family on a Sunday afternoon, or schedule a Friday Night Family Movie Time. It doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive - you just need to be focused on your family and being together. Another easy way to create more family time is to enjoy a family meal time. We all have to eat, right? Use a family meal time (breakfast works just a great as dinner) to connect. Stop checking email, and bring your coffee to the table. Ask your kids what's going on at school, check for any calendar changes, find out who they are planning to eat lunch with. Even 15 minutes of giving your attention to your family can make a difference, and free up some time to read a chapter in that great book later.
Learn to Just Say No This is probably the biggest, most beneficial secret. The reason the juggle gets so hard, is because we tend to just keep adding more and more commitments, leaving us less time to work, less time for family and less time for ourselves. We need to learn how to say no, and practice, practice, practice! I find it works best for me to have a "script" for saying no. I've realized that I don't need a lot of explanations and excuses - it just adds to my feelings of guilt or inadequacy. It is much more effective to simply say, "Gosh, that's such a worthwhile event, but sadly my calendar won't allow me to spearhead the committee. Let me know when tickets go on sale, and I'll be sure to purchase one though!"
Schedule Activities to Refill Your Bucket. This is a big one. If our bucket is empty, we run out of steam to give to work, to our families or to ourselves. We have to make time to be good to ourselves - be happy to be ME. By scheduling office hours, after the kids are in bed I can settle in with my husband or a good book until bedtime, that's ME time - guilt free. I also try to get a walk or yoga session in during the day. Again, this is where a good schedule comes into play. Other ways you can refill your bucket to help you juggle the work/life balance are a dinner or lunch out with friends, mani/pedi appointment, or browsing your favorite store. Remember that the pilot tells you to put on YOUR oxygen mask first, before assisting others. This applies to our work/life as well!
None of this is really hard. But it does take a little bit of planning and some organization, and as Elsa has taught us, some letting go. It also helps to get your spouse/partner and kids on board with the plan too. Sometimes our initial plan is a big failure - it happens - we just have to re-evaluate and keep moving forward. There is nothing wrong with taking time for ourselves to better equip ourselves to handle the demands of our daily work/life balance.
Need yet another reason to take care of you? Why not celebrate ME Day, created by domain.ME, on March 16th, 2015. This day promotes the values of diversity, tolerance and freedom, as well as self-appreciation and the importance of taking care of ourselves (filling up our own buckets!) Can't take a whole day? Use the secrets above to carve out time to take care of YOU.
How do you maximize ME time while juggling your work/life balance?
catch you soon -