The Cornerstone of Work/Life Balance and How to Change Your Priorities (plus last post with comments)

Posted in Balanced Lifestyle, Balanced Mind and Soul | October 26, 2010 |

work life balance

Image by Dream Dottie

Do you sometimes feel that you are stuck in a rut? You clean up your lifestyle, your clean your to-do list, you take time for yourself (or at least you think so) and still you feel stuck. Your time is running away from you and no matter how much you try you still cannot get everything done.

I’ve been in that situation lately. It was really strange for me because I could not figure out what was wrong and how I could improve my situation. My work/life balance (even though I do not like this term) was definitely tipping into the “work” area and hardly ever touching the “life.” I had a lot of projects that I had just recently started and my girls have officially entered the terrible twos. Every day was a fight and I didn’t know where to get the energy and strength for it.

In the midst of all that craziness I realized that it was time to change my priorities and … go on a vacation (my husband and I had our first vacation in 3 years! I feel like a new person now:-))

If you are wondering about the corner stone of work/life balance then here it is – “Change.” In life we often get in a particular state of equilibrium when we are not completely at peace with everything that is going on but we get used to it and learn to accept it. Then new tasks and conditions start piling up and before you know it – you are buried under a pile of clutter, deadlines and constant burnout.

We often forget to press the “Reset ” button on our life controller and we just continue struggling through every day pretending that we can’t change anything (we are mostly afraid to try to change) and that we do not deserve any better than that.

If you feel that you are stuck in a rut, just like I did a few weeks ago, then here are a few steps that can help you and that have already helped me.

    1. Take a break. Sometimes a break can be just 15 minutes of silence when nobody is bothering you and when your mind can fly away to the happiest places and moments of your life. If you can take a mini-vacation (exactly what I did) – then go for it.
      For a long time I had trouble “turning off” my work thoughts even when I was relaxing at home or playing with my kids. I thought that I could never live another day without worrying about business or finding topics for the next blog post. This all changed during my 4 day vacation – my days were so filled with great experiences, beautiful scenery and of course the best company (I am talking about my husband here of course) that I didn’t have any single work-oriented thought. Hooray! Now that I am back I have a ton of ideas that I can’t wait to put in to life.
    2. Start cutting back. There are only 24 hours in the day and we have to spend at least 5 of them sleeping (read Steven’s interview about how to survive on 5 hours of sleep and feel fantastic.) This means that the number of activities that we can comfortably and properly perform during the day is limited.
      We often feel that we have no control over our schedule but this is a myth. We often get used to a particular flow during the day or particular responsibilities and we stop even thinking about them. We assume that this is the way it is supposed to be and we do not even try to change.
      Look at your daily activities and write down everything that you do routinely like drinking coffee in the morning, checking your email or reading the news. Now analyze those activities and see which ones you can eliminate and which ones you can minimize. I am sure that you will be able to gain at least an hour of free time if you change your routines.
      Important for all Balance In Me Readers: One of the biggest changes that I have decided to do was to close comments on this blog. Yes, this is the last post which will have comments open, so if you want to say something – go ahead and do it now. I was thinking a lot about this decision and here is why I have decided to go comments-free:
      – I do not have time to answer every single comment.
      – Most people who comment are bloggers who want me to visit their blog and leave a comment in return (unfortunately I do not have time for it. I will gladly tweet, stumble or even mention your post on my blog but I do not have time to comment.)
      – Those readers who truly need help or have genuine feedback usually send me a message through the contact form (feel free to do the same.)
      – I will keep in contact with my readers through a newsletter and through polls that I will post weekly on the blog (I feel that a lot of you really like those polls :-) They are fun!)
      – I am tired of combating spam.
      This is it for me. What are you ready to eliminate from your routine?
    3. Focus. Instead of focusing on your tasks I am asking you to focus on the most important part of your life. When you close your eyes and think about the most important and dearest thing on this planet for you, what are you thinking about? I am thinking about my little girls that is why I am going to focus on them right now. Even though they are in the terrible twos, they are still the most precious double trouble I have (excuse me for bragging a little bit.)
      Focus your life around that most important and dearest thing. Maybe you are passionate about helping people, maybe you want to preserve nature in your area, maybe you want to be a missionary (even in your neighborhood) … The truth is that if you focus your life around things and money then you will not get to that sweet state of balance and peace that you are looking for.
      If you need help finding your focus I recommend that you download Leo Babauta’s (the guy) brand new free ebook Focus. You will find a lot of great tips there.
      Find your focus.
    4. Don’t’ forget to have the “me” time. You probably know that even without me mentioning it for the hundredth time – everybody needs to have some “me” time. Why is it important for your life priorities? The “me” time is a source of energy for you, me and everybody else. While we often know what we need in reality we always put it away until we have some time for it.
      “I’ll have my “me” time when my work project is done.”
      “I’ll have my “me” time when my kids get older.”
      “I’ll have my “me” time when I go on vacation.” Do you know of any other excuses?
      That little break will clear your mind and let you look at your life and your priorities with a fresh perspective.
      I am ashamed to admit it but for the past few weeks I’ve been skipping my workouts right and left because I never had enough time for them. No wonder I started having back pain and was constantly low on energy! This is the reason why I have decided to lead a retreat From a Sedentary to Active Lifestyle in 1 Month. By announcing the retreat I put “me” time on my priority list (if you want to put “me” time and health on your priority list – register for the retreat today.) How will you put “me” time on your list?

For the last time I am asking you to leave a comment and tell me how you prioritize your life. Do you have any questions or feedback – feel free to leave a comment below.

Keep it balanced!

Smart Thoughts (5)

  1. Hi Anastasiya,

    What a pleasure it is to leave a comment on your last commentable post. Though my son is grown, I work full time and have many demands on my personal time. Though I want to teach people what I’ve learned along my journey, the truth is, and has been from day 1, that I simply don’t have time to do everything that the twittersphere makes me feel I should be doing. I simply can’t keep up, and have to give myself permission to hop off of the merry go round.

    I love your honesty and courage, and I relate to every single one of your thoughts on turning off your comments.

    Congratulations on the upcoming retreat you’ve developed (wish I had time for it, but … ) I find myself reading tweets and glancing through facebook links, wishing that I had more time to participate, read, comment, etc. but I simply don’t. I know that my own self-care has to be my first priority … not that I’m always great at it but if I fail that, I’m in big trouble.

    There are so many amazing bloggers out there, just from our club, doing wonderful work. I admire and respect them, and think that one day, I’ll be able to develop products and accomplish what they have. In the meantime, I have to be content with what I can do each day. I will be mindful of your words, and try to do a better job of focusing on what’s truly important … my health and my family. I am working very hard right now to put myself into a position of being able to spend more time with my family, so the work, for the short-term, is worth it for me. As long as the goal is in sight.

    So, congratulations, and enjoy, and give your girls an extra squeeze today! :)
    Take special good care, Anastasiya,

  2. Patricia says:

    I will just leave a short word or two…I do like your blog and I am happy to keep reading…and happy to know that you are tweaking your routine to keep it working for you…I am still happy dancing all through out the day and trying not to sit longer than 2 hours at a stretch…

    Thank you for your good articles and post.

  3. Anastasiya, I think it is a great decision. I plan on doing the same soon. Just wanted to wish you luck with the retreat and you know I am always happy to help you with anything. Glad you had a good vacation.

  4. HI Ana…last comment hmm :(
    I did have some fun in this comments sections a while back. But that being said I totally get where you are coming from about not having the time. It can get to you..and yes tip that beautiful balance off!
    My personal favorite way to keep the balance in check is by giving my self a day off in the week. I mean no computer atleast one day in the week. It gives me enough time to spend with my little the things I want to without worrying about all the chatter that happens online. Infact, many times i feel like I dont know where to begin. IN those circumstances I close my eyes & tell myself “prioritize” and open my eyes. Instantly I will close all the windows…and concentrate only on whats needed and not what I want(which apparently is a lot;) )
    I will happily keep reading your amazing articles…cause you come over to my inbox ever so often. A cup of coffee with your writing just makes my day.
    Thank you for being YOU! Its refreshing and extremely brave of you to close comments. I have been considering it a while too..hmm….you make me think girl :)
    Lots of love,

  5. Vic says:

    Hi Anastasiya,
    I prioritize my life by starting on my principles. Then I choose the best principles and leave the worst ones. From the principles I chose, I stand for it. Then all things will go, my attitude, values and the stubborn habits. I always told my friends to always use their privilege to choose, and that there is no such thing as “we have no choice”. Of course we have, they are only sometimes hard.