In my last blog I spoke a lot about the importance of making connections. As an example, I used my relationship with Florine. I have come to realize that the most important ingredient in forging these meaningful relationships is investing time in them. I have also come to learn time is a precious commodity and there just doesn't seem to be enough of it to go around. I have no doubt you feel the same way.
Do you ever wonder whether you can squeeze it all into 24 hours? Do you sometimes fear, like I do, that the day is going to run short?
For all of us, it can be a challenging balancing act to allocate the valuable ingredient of time in the right place and with the right people. I've made a decision to really focus energy on finding balance in my life. It sounds easier than it actually is. Our lives take on may dimensions. I am a newlywed, a daughter and sister, a friend, a working professional, a political activist, an engaged community member, and a person with an array of personal interests. I also hope to create a family in the next few years.
The result is that I find myself in the midst of solidifying my own career, assuming a leadership role in my community, and starting a family while still maintaining relationships with my broader family and friends. I have no doubt that with so little time, balance is going to be the essential ingredient in forging a successful life.
I have found, as I suspect you do, that it's work to hold ourselves to a balanced life. In response, I have started to compile helpful tools to navigate this bumpy road with success. Here are just a few that have helped me the most:
Renegotiate Where Possible. I recently found myself confronted with a day where I was potentially quadruple booked. Is there even such a thing? I had a one hour business meeting requiring a second hour of travel time, a request to speak at a luncheon, a scheduled lunch date with my husband and a request by a journalist for an interview. With a little renegotiation I found I could turn an impossible day into merely a busy one. I was able to eliminate the meeting travel time by making the meeting a conference call, made my lunch date with my husband a dinner date at our favorite restaurant, spoke at the luncheon and asked the journalist if we could reschedule the interview for a different time. Balance is sometimes just a renegotiation of time.
Manage My Calendar. My calendar is one of the most helpful balancing tools I have available to me. For most people their calendar is primarily a way to maintain work and social commitments. I use my calendar to also reflect my priority, my commitment to friends and family. Ironically, personal and family time is likely the easiest to slip through the cracks or be postponed. To keep that from happening, I schedule it and reflect on whether it has been given the critical time it deserves on my calendar. I literally write everything into my daily calendar, and always remain committed to that important family time.
Disconnect Regularly. It is so easy to allow modern technology to take over our lives. I'm guilty of this. Even when away from work, I struggle to refrain from checking my devices. It's a tough one, but disconnect. That behavior takes us out of the moment and away from our family and friends.
Take Time Away. You say you don't need time for yourself? We all need time away from the regular wear and tear of our day-to-day responsibilities. Whether you are a working professional or a stay-at-home parent, you likely need time for yourself to recharge, reevaluate and reflect. Take care of yourself.
Hold Yourself Accountable. Probably the most important step you can take to create balance and manage time within your life is to hold yourself accountable for your actions, inactions and priorities. By that, I mean take a few minutes at the end of each week to look back on how well you balanced your time against your personal and professional responsibilities. Did your actions reflect your priorities? Give yourself a non-critical review that allows you to course correct next week. Ask yourself questions like:
- Did I complete my work-related responsibilities?
- Did I respect my priorities?
- Did I spend meaningful time with my family and friends?
- Did I take care of myself?
- Do I feel energized and happy?
Hold yourself accountable. Don't let yourself off easy. If you are not happy with the answers to these questions, then assess how you used your time and how you can do better next week.
It's important Take the time to do it.