It is always challenging to strike the right balance between the priorities in your life, but now more than ever, this has really been pushed to the fore. We are juggling needs in the workplace alongside home schooling, concerns around health, social distancing and other external pressures.
Corndel runs masterclasses about balance, stress management and prioritsation. Our five-step plan to a well-balanced life, is taken from one of these masterclasses:
It’s important to remember that whilst there is never ‘more time’, how you spend your time is always a choice albeit not one that you’ve consciously made. In her TED talk on gaining control over your time, Laura Vanderkam says, “We don’t build the lives we want by saving time; we build the lives we want and time saves itself.” What constitutes a balanced life is unique to you, so the first step in getting there is to decide what your ideal would look like.
You might like to start with a couple of questions:
Next, jot down on a piece of paper a few things that reflect how you spend your time currently, using the headings below. It doesn’t matter whether these things are what you like to do or feel you have to do. This exercise simply helps you to start thinking about where your time is going right now:
You can also use a wheel of life exercise to take stock.
Once you have this list, ask yourself the following questions:
Explore your current reality
Over the course of a week, note down everything that you do, how long it takes and whether it is/was important and/or urgent. In terms of the time aspect, make sure you use timescales that are meaningful to you e.g. 15 mins, 30 mins, 1 day, ½ day etc.
Use that to get familiar with where your time is going, e.g.
Use a framework like Covey’s Effective Time Management Matrix, to put the things on your list into four categories:
Then add in anything that you want to make time for to create the balance you want.
Once you have your final list of things that you specifically need/want to do, i.e. your do now and do later lists, schedule everything so that you spend as much time as possible staying on top of things before they become urgent. Don’t over schedule as surprises do come along and we need to have some flexibility. This is particularly important right now.
If you can create a system for tasks that are regularly eating your time, do so, e.g. if planning meals and grocery shopping is taking a lot of time every week, create a rotating menu planner with standard shopping lists so that you spend less time each week planning everything and free up time for something you want to have more of in your life.
When you have achieved your goals, remember to celebrate. Conversely if you haven’t been able to achieve something, don’t despair. Instead, get curious about why that might be, learn from it and try a different approach.
In summary, the five steps to a better-balanced life during the current crisis and beyond:
Things change and a refresh might be in order from time to time; you can use the process from top to bottom whenever it feels like things are out of balance.