Updated: Oct 29
Is this real or a dream? You get up in the morning rested, energized, and ready for your day. You do your morning “me-time” of exercise, meditation, and/or sipping your tea with a nutritious breakfast. You allow yourself to enjoy it because you don’t have to do tasks alone - you’ve delegated and gotten help. The day is planned. And if it goes “sideways” you can handle it without beating yourself or anyone else up. You spend quality time with your partner, significant other, and/or family before the end of the day. You didn’t finish everything on your to-do list, but what matters most at the time got done while you said “no” when you needed to. The rest will wait, and you won’t feel like a failure or guilty about it. Tomorrow is another day. You’re tired, but you go to bed without the clutter and stress of the day’s worries in your head. This is life balance. Does this sound like something you want?
Actually, you get to choose what life balance looks like for you based on what matters most to you. It’s about being who you truly are and doing the right things at the right time. One thing is for sure, life balance doesn’t mean you won’t ever be tired or overwhelmed, or that all aspects of your life will be given equal priority. It means you know your priorities for the season, month, week, or day. Sometimes work takes center stage, while other times your personal life needs more attention. Nothing is perfect all the time, but you know how to eventually recalibrate, so you don’t get stuck in an endless rut. And you don’t feel guilty about taking “me-time.” Seems impossible? It’s not. That’s where the 5 Secret “How-Tos” come into play.
5 Secret How-Tos
The Secret “How-Tos” are the steps to life balance with the ability to readjust and be flexible when things go “off course.”
Prioritize Your Passions – What is most important to you? What makes your heart sing? Who do you want to be? What are your true aspirations? These are based on your core values. To identify them, keep drilling down and asking yourself “Why” is this important to me? Some core values may be achievement, adventure, independence, integrity, compassion, faith, self-actualization, family, community, freedom, fun, service, and more. Write down your core values in priority order so you remember them. You can then set and prioritize goals to create your calendar based on your core values. As the stages of life change, your core values may change. It’s okay and normal.
Release, Relieve, and Reclaim You – Let go of what doesn’t matter anymore or no longer works for you. It’s like opening a closet packed full of clothes. You haven’t removed the winter clothes in summer or gotten rid of worn-out items. You spend time staring at the closet, get overwhelmed, and can’t decide what to wear. But when you de-clutter, you see exactly what’s there and what you want to put on. It’s the same with your life. Declutter what doesn’t need to be in it to make room for what’s most important to you. It frees you up to be your true self and do what’s important to you.
Test Your Time-Tuned Tactics - The techniques of how to fine-tune your time won’t be the same for everyone. Test what works best for you. Here are some tips:
Create Your Calendar Based on What’s Most Important – Many of us fit what matters most into our calendar as an afterthought. Create your calendar with this in mind first and then fit everything else around that. And it’s okay to prioritize your own needs in what matters most. It’s self-care, not selfish!
Identify "Tiger Time " – Identify when you feel the most energized during the day, which is when you can do more focused, difficult tasks. This is your own circadian rhythm (aka internal biological clock). For example, after lunch is usually when you digest food, so blood is taken away from the brain and diverted to the digestive tract to get it processed. Or, if you skip lunch or breakfast, your blood sugar levels drop, and you can’t focus.
Develop Time Blocks – Do the things that you tend to procrastinate first. Break tasks into bite-sized time blocks. For example, the Pomodoro Method suggests 25 minutes of focused time and 5 minutes of break time. Be realistic about how much time a task really takes to accomplish. Adjust the work and break times to what feels right to you. This is especially important for neurodivergent people.
Write Down Your Goals and “To-Dos” – Goals should be prioritized and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant/Realistic, Time-Bound). You will have goals for the season, month, week, and day. Sometimes priorities will change, even during the day, and that’s okay. Be flexible! And don’t beat yourself up for not finishing everything.
Use Planning Tools – Some people like to use calendars. Others use apps to prioritize and track their progress. Choose an easy app that helps you prioritize your tasks and recognize your accomplishments. I personally still use the old-fashioned paper to-do list. I carry over to another day and reprioritize what I didn’t finish. Priorities can move up and down the list based on the day’s circumstances.
Guard Your Golden Hours – Set boundaries and be okay with saying “no.” Boundaries don’t mean creating a wall to separate yourself from others. It means setting limits on what you will and won’t do and allowing yourself to delegate tasks. This helps you take care of yourself to be the best you. It also protects your precious, golden hours to do what matters most. See my blog on “Setting Boundaries for further details on identifying and successfully communicating them to others.
Embrace the Present Moment – Be present where you are. For example, if you’re spending time with your partner, kids, or friends, be fully there with them instead of thinking about what you didn’t finish at work. Minimize distractions, such as placing your cell phone in another room. You will then truly enjoy what you’re doing and who you’re being. This benefits everyone!
Ultimately, balance is much more than time management. It comes from the inside of you because it starts with your mindset of who you want to be in life. To help, you can download my free Stress-Balance Tool to find out how balanced or stressed you are and what you can do about it.