The concept of a "balanced life" emerged during the 80s, as the numbers of working women and single-parent families increased. All the chores of maintaining a household had to be fitted around a work schedule, cutting down the time available for relaxation and recreation. When someone says, "I need more balance in my life," they really mean, "I wish I had time to do everything I want to do."
A "balanced life" is not accomplished at the end of a long road, after years of effort, and it is not something that comes about all at once. Physical balancing is the act of constantly adjusting your position to maintain your equilibrium. Achieving balance in your life is a daily process of identifying priorities and making adjustments.
Many people seek a "work/life balance" in which they can reach career goals while maintaining a fulfilling personal life. This concept is not effective because it is not specific enough. The first step to a successful balancing act is to identify priorities in each area of your life: health, faith, family, work, and finances.
For each area of your life, identify the one thing that you could do to make all the other priorities easier to accomplish. This requires some reflection, and your "one thing" might evolve as you start to put it into practice and see the results.
You are working with limited resources: time, money, energy, and your mental focus. Balancing your life involves understanding and making the best use of all of these. You cannot accomplish everything you would like to do, so you will have to make some compromises.
To achieve a priority in one area of your life, you might have to sacrifice another. For example, when you are studying for a final exam to get your business degree, you might have to spend less time with your family. Make these sacrifices consciously, and always with a time limit. When you have accomplished the big goal, readjust your priorities and compensate by devoting more attention to the neglected areas of your life. Never let a sacrifice take you so far off track that you cannot restore your balance.
Time cannot be reversed. You cannot go back and relive lost moments, such as a missed birthday party. Family events and regular activities with your partner, children, and friends should not be sacrificed casually. Many older people regret spending too much time at work and not enough time with their families.
Your health is an iron-clad priority. Do not postpone a healthier lifestyle to a later date, after you have accomplished something else. Good health is maintained day by day, by exercising, eating well, getting enough rest, and seeking medical attention for health problems. If you are in poor health, you will be unable to perform well in the other areas of your life. The time you set aside in your week for exercising or preparing healthy meals is sacred.
Time management techniques can help you find more time for the important things in your life. For example, pay all your bills at once or set up auto pay. Schedule all your errands for one trip. Use a shopping list and buy a week's groceries at one time.
Work smart. Control distractions, do important tasks first, and look for ways to be more efficient. Take time to cultivate your personal life. You will be far more productive when you arrive at work relaxed and confident.
Leave yourself free time to think or do something you enjoy.
Do not neglect your faith and your family life. Revisit your priorities regularly, and evaluate your accomplishments. No amount of success in one area is worth it if it leaves you feeling diminished in another.
Time Management, Womens Health (www.womenshealthmag.com/life/time-management)
30 Time Management Tips For Work-Life Balance, Frances Booth, Forbes (www.forbes.com/sites/francesbooth/2014/08/28/30-time-management-tips/#2478841775e5)