There are certain times of the year that my life routinely ramps into high gear and spins at speeds that leave me breathless. That would be the beginning and the end of the school year. While I am a teacher and perhaps at bit more sensitive to the changes of summer to fall and then spring to summer – any parent with children can attest to the upheaval a new school year can bring. Transitions throw us off our routines. Routines give us structure, peace of mind, and help us be more productive. Too many changes to the routine at once and it takes a bit of time to settle back into a feeling of balance.
I am in the process of finding the right balance.
During vacation time, I am able to devote many more hours to writing and my blog. When school is in session my hours available to blog are greatly diminished. The daily and weekly routines I build during one season need to be adjusted for the next season. That is OK. I am always finding a new equilibrium.
What helps? Here are my tips:
5 tips to finding work life balance
Prioritize: When I was 18 I was a Mary Kay consultant. Mary Kay Ash proselytized her believe that as working women we should place God first, family second, and career third. I think she hit that spot on, and I have carried that sentiment with me. Right now, my work priority is focused on the new school year, getting to know all of my new students, and finding the routine in my new schedule. Keeping priorities in focus helps us let go of the peripheral and allows us to say, “no” without regret.
Plan: In the spirit of keeping our priorities straight Mary Kay also taught us to highlight our planners – using three colors; one to represent God, one representing our family, and the third color our career. When we looked at the planner the colors would let us see exactly how balanced our week was. Remember I was 18. I think my priorities at that time revolved around friends, school, and the weekend; but all these years later I have a huge take-away from that activity. You need to not only prioritize, but you need to schedule. I have hours in my day devoted to school, to family, to blog, to myself.
Be Mindful: Knowing my schedule helps me stay in the now and to be mindful of the present. When I am with my family I let the work stuff go – there is time for that later. When I am grading papers – I let the blogging go – there is time for that later. I try not to obsess about what needs to be done on another area of my life when I am giving myself to one aspect. Living in the now helps me feel balanced.
Accept the Process: Finding balance is not like finding the hidden treasure. Balance is not a finite object, rather it is a process. Because I have taught for nearly two decades, I know that my life work balance will be taking a few go-rounds on the roller-coaster of life each spring and fall. It used to really bother me when I felt like I lost the first full week of summer each year due to “paralysis”. Suddenly my routine had drastically changed, and I did not know how to proceed. It would take me a full week before I felt as though I had my feet back onto solid ground. I have learned now how to take advantage of that time that I needed to mentally process the change and not feel as though it is a wasted week. I schedule lots of appointments that week But the point is – finding balance is a process. A process that is always in flux.
Self-Care: When life gets out of balance the stress levels go up. Staying healthy helps combat stress. Eating healthy, getting adequate rest, exercising, and staying hydrated are the basis of staying physically healthy. Time with friends and family, time spent alone, and meditation are ways to stay emotionally healthy. When you take care of yourself you have the energy and motivation to tackle what life throws your way.
So right now, my life is in transition and I am using all of the above to help me regain equilibrium in my work-life balance. As my routines fall back into place, life feels a bit more peaceful. I am still working on getting the right balance.
What helps you maintain balance in your busy life?