Is work-life balance actually a thing?

Life always gets crazy, things pop up, the to do list is never ending…sound familiar?  Now think: what strategies do you have for time management?  Not something that you thing about regularly, right?  So here are some strategies I have learned from growing up spending 24 hours per week in the gym on top of school, being a collegiate athlete and graduating in 3 years, surviving physical therapy school, then going on to complete a post-doctoral residency while working full time…and now while working 4 jobs.  

Understand that things come in waves

Know there are busy seasons and less busy seasons and realize it is a short term thing.  These seasons can be a day, a week or two, a month, etc. Know yourself so you know how long you can burn the candle and find a way to either ask for help or find other strategies to give yourself a bit of a breather.  If you have a spouse or significant other, know their busy seasons, too.  Remember you both are a team to help support the other while one is in a busy season.  You will have your time to help support them, too! 

Know what is on your plate

Think about everything going on in your life as a plate.  You only have 100% of your plate, you can’t go over that.  If your plate is full or overflowing, you have to give something up to fit something else on.  Think about all the categories you have in life (e.g. work, family, friends, training/fitness, life tasks/chores, etc.) then think about what percent of mental effort/time they require.  Know that in order to add something else, you have to let something go if you don’t have extra room on your plate. Think about this prior to adding something else so you can strategize what you are going to take off your plate. 

Categorize to do’s by important/urgent (the Eisenhower matrix)

Think about a box with 4 quadrants: 1. urgent and important 2. not urgent but important 3. urgent but not important and 4. not urgent and not important.  Each task is going to be in one of the 4 categories, but can move at any point to another category.  So, for example, things like a bill due today will be urgent and important, but a bill due in two weeks will be important, but not urgent.  Another example of something that is not urgent, but important would be calling an important friend or family member.  An example of things that are not so important but urgent could be emails or something someone asked you to do on their deadline.  And lastly, an example of something is not urgent and not important can be trivial things on your to do list that don’t have a deadline, like re-organizing the closet or other busy work.  Try to stay out of quadrants 3 and 4 and keep things out of quadrant 1.  When things pop up in quadrant 1, get them done.  Things in quadrant 2, schedule them in.  Things in quadrant 3, if you can you want to delegate these to someone else and try to avoid having things in this category by limiting boundaries.  Things in quadrant 4, you want to limit and eliminate the distractions.  

Eisenhower Matrix

Set boundaries

Checking work email from home?  Will everything really be lost if you wait until the start of the workday the next day?  Would you find a second between clients/calls/projects/or whatever you do to check if you didn’t check at home?  Know your boundaries and stick to them.  Don’t be afraid to say no…you’ll perform better if you’re happier! 

Hope these 4 tips help give you at least one new strategy to help with the stress in your life!  Let me know if you have any other strategies, if you have tried any of these tips and what happened, or if you have any other questions or thoughts on this topic! 

Just remember, no one is perfect, and that in itself is perfect

2 thoughts on “Is work-life balance actually a thing?

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