You open your phone and instantly you’re bombarded by notifications.
There’s a new voicemail, missed calls, comments on your Facebook, your spouse requesting you stop for something on the way home, texts from coworkers asking you to go out, and at least a dozen unread emails.
And that’s just what’s happening on your phone.
It seems there will never be enough time in the day to keep up with your hectic lifestyle. Your to-do list is permanently expanding and never complete.
You’re exhausted. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.
You want more time with your family. More time not stressing. More time enjoying your life. More… balance.
Whew. Where do you even start?
Take Back Your Life With These 5 Steps to Restoring Balance
Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.
– Thomas Merton
Luckily, you don’t need a genie to grant you the wish of more time or an army of clones to do your bidding.
The truth is that you can find a balanced life. You can escape being overwhelmed. You can avoid burning out. You can get it all done and still invest in life’s important stuff.
Here are a few steps to help you optimize your time, take back control of your life, and create the balance you so desperately need.
Learn to say no
What you don’t do determines what you can do.
In the world of constant and ever-increasing connection, there’s an endless array of activities to do every minute of the day. We’re now in an age of suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out) because we’re shackled by our finite amount of time to participate in these happenings.
But if you’re seeking a more centered self, it’s time to learn to say no. Say no a lot! Say no to everything except those things that are helping you reach your goals or make you more happy.
At first it may be difficult to turn down friends and family, but overall by helping yourself conserve your energy, you will be more available to them for the times that genuinely matter.
Action Step: Turn down a plan that doesn’t absolutely excite you and spend that time instead recharging and relaxing at home.
Once we give up being attached to physical possessions we find the time and freedom to follow bigger dreams.
– Joshua Becker
The minimalist and tiny house movements aren’t just a few hippies attempting to live out of vans. It’s a community built on a foundation of focusing on what’s really important in life.
Don’t worry though; you don’t have to give up all your worldly possessions to reap the benefits of minimizing.
Merely sifting through your house for items that aren’t adding value to you anymore and donating or discarding them is a great beginning. But the philosophy of minimalism expands beyond just removing unnecessary physical items from your life; it’s also how we behave as consumers.
It’s about conscious consumption. Before buying each item you bring into your life, ask yourself these three questions: Is this necessary? Why do I want this? Does this truly add value to my life?
We all know that having more stuff doesn’t actually make us happy, but what a lot of people don’t know is having less stuff can actually make you happier. It simplifies your life so you can spend more time focusing on what really matters to you.
Action Step: Go through your junk drawer and discard or donate until only the essentials are left. Ask yourself those three questions for each item. Each week move on to a different area of your house. Ask yourself those questions when purchasing new items.
In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.
– Deepak Chopra
It’s impossible to have a post about finding balance without including meditation, but instead viewing meditation as a spiritual practice, let’s focus on the real-world benefits to this age-old ritual.
Meditation is essentially the practice of controlling your thoughts and learning to be present in the now. Thoughts are one of the greatest assets you have when it comes to your overall success and happiness.
Your thoughts create your perspective and therefore your world. You literally become or attract what you think.
If you can control your thoughts, you can control your world.
By harnessing the power of your thoughts, what once seemed chaotic and out of control, you can find balance and order.
The ability to be present in the now has tremendous benefit to our overall wellbeing, from increasing our focus to optimizing our time. We’ll get into this benefit more in the last step.
Action Step: Spend a minimum of five minutes meditating every day. It’s not as complicated as you may think. Head over to 10% Happier and download their app for a great tool to learn how to meditate and create the habit of doing it every day (The basics are free!).
Prioritize the right way
Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.
– John C. Maxwell
Do you know one of those freaks of nature that must be bending the time-space continuum to do all they’ve accomplished? How do they do it, how do they get everything done?
Drum roll please, here’s the big secret… They don’t.
They’re prioritizing more efficiently and getting what’s important done, while leaving tasks that are unimportant to be tackled down the road if they have free time, or simply removing those tasks completely.
If you’re like most people, your to-do list is littered with unnecessary items that are spreading your focus too thin. This can cause a feeling of disorder and lead to burning out.
Instead, you should be focusing on what’s crucial in your life instead of drowning in unnecessary tasks.
An awesome method to decide what’s important and what you should prioritize is the Eisenhower Matrix.
Essentially, there are four boxes; important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and not important and not urgent. Learn more about the Eisenhower Matrix and how it can help you find balance here.
Action Step: Filter through your to-do list and sort it into your Eisenhower Matrix. Once it’s clear to you what’s considered important and urgent, remake your to-do list prioritized the right way. Repeat until it becomes natural to focus on what’s most important to you.
The secret to multitasking is that it isn’t actually multitasking. It’s extreme focus and organization.
– Joss Whedon
This is where we get back into being present in the now.
If you haven’t heard of time-blocking yet, today’s your lucky day.
Essentially, instead of drawing up a traditional to-do list with multiple tasks, set a block of time in your calendar for working on each task.
So from 9am-10am you might answer emails, then 4pm to 5pm is when you actively spend time with your children, and next at 8pm-9pm is your reading time.
During each task you solely focus on what’s in your time block and only what’s in it – no answering emails during time with your children or reading when it’s time to send emails.
By helping you disconnect from what’s unimportant and focusing your energy, whatever your schedule may be, time-blocking is a great way to increase productivity, clear your mind, and help restore balance in your life.
Action Step: Use Google Calendar to take your to-do list and convert it into time blocks over the course of your week.
Follow just these five action steps this week.
Now imagine this time you open up your phone to just a single notification. It’s your spouse saying they can’t wait to spend the evening with you.
You’ve had an amazing, productive week at work. And now when you get home, you don’t feel the constant pressure of work or your to-do list calling your name.
You’re not distracted when spending time with your family.
Instead, you spend your time enjoying what you love. Relaxed, happy, and balanced.