EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a guest post by Glen Allsopp of PluginID.
Do you feel like there are a million and one things you want to do but you just don’t have the time? Do you find it difficult to organize life around the things you must do and the things you wish you could do?
If you answered yes to either of those questions then you’re in luck, because today I want to cover the topic of life balance. If you feel like you need more hours in the day or that you’re neglecting certain areas of your life then hopefully this guide will help you to rectify the situation.
Knowing what to work on and when to do it is a problem for a lot of people; after-all, there are so many areas of our lives that we can work on, how do you know where to start?
Without being too egotistical, my own story profiles an example of success in this area. When I was 17 I was literally working 7 days per week: 5 in college and 16 hours in a clothes store on the weekends. Yet, in that time, I was able to build and grow my own Internet business which now accounts for my full-time income. In fact, it supports me so well that I’m about to start traveling the globe based on the income that business provides for me.
If I can work on my passions, my health and other areas of life that are important to me while literally working 7 days per week then so can you…and I’m going to share exactly how.
Pick Areas of Your Life That Matter
Life balance is all about focusing on areas of your life that matter to you and having an adequate amount of time to be able to work on them. After-all, if certain things didn’t matter to you then you wouldn’t care if you got round to working on them or not.
Some aspects of life that you find important and require some of your attention may include:
- Family Activities
- Hobbies / Interests…
…the list goes on. Working on your finances could mean that you want to work on getting out of debt by budgeting or even be that you’re looking for ways to increase your income. Hobbies and interests could include building your skills at a certain sport or even something more practical like learning a new language.
It is important that you now take the time to identify areas of your life that really matter to you. I find that I’m far better at tasks like this when I use a pen and paper rather than a word processor on my computer.
The items in bold are the areas that I had chosen to work on for my schedule but everyone’s answers will be different. Once you have your list together, you’re ready for the next part.
Add Details to Each on How You Can Improve
It is quite ironic but it is often the case that we stress and worry about areas of our lives and let them consume our thoughts. Then, when our situation isn’t improving by its own accord we get even more stressful and anxious. Instead, wouldn’t it be much easier if we just set out a plan on how to improve each area of our life and then started taking action?
Now that you have a list of life areas that matter to you, jot down some points on how you think you could improve them or fit them into your schedule. For example, an area of my life that is important to me is my health and I knew I wanted to work on improving that. So, I would write down a few bullet points on how I can do just that:
- Go to the Gym 3x per week
- Take 2 Protein Shakes per day (I’m on a bulk)
- Try to eat healthy, regularly
That’s it; don’t make things complicated if they don’t need to be. If you want to work on a new language then write down how much time you would need to set aside to get to the level you want to reach. If you want to improve your relationship then list things you would like to do to work on that whether it is going out for a meal or setting aside time with your partner to discuss your issues.
Not every item is going to have some guaranteed time frame or task you need to do in order to solve it and not every item is going to have a recurring task. For instance, if you need to get out of debt, simply put down that you need to set aside time to work out where you could lower your spending and research increasing your income.
Fit Items into a Flexible Schedule
Depending on who you are and what matters to you in life you may have in front of you a huge list of items or a rather short list. There are 24 hours in a day and of course 7 days in a week, so this is the time frame that you are going to be working in. I think it is far better to work on a weekly schedule rather than a monthly schedule, and then add in extra items that aren’t recurring tasks or ideas afterwords.
Take my workouts for example; I work out three times per week and I know each session takes around one hour – therefore this must go into a weekly schedule of mine. I don’t work a regular job so I’m quite fortunate that I can literally do this any time of day. However, if you work 9-5 then you must set- aside time to do this either before you go to work (wake up sooner) or after work (get home later).
If this already sounds daunting to you then consider how much you really want to get your life in order and work on the things that matter to you.
Add all of the items on your list which have some kind of recurring task whether it is going to the gym or spending 2 hours learning French into a flexible schedule.
Put all my items into a schedule and my weekly plan would look something like this:
- Monday: Workout arms
- Wednesday: Workout legs, Public speaking club
- Friday: Workout chest
- Saturday: Spend time with my family
- Sunday: Plan my week ahead, Check website stats
Note how basic and simple this all seems right now. The parts where I haven’t scheduled my time is where I will be working which is basically non-negotiable, it’s how I survive. So even if I have a 9-5 job Monday to Friday, I know that on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I need to work out. I also know not to make plans for a Wednesday night because I go to a public speaking club.
Don’t feel like you need to put the obvious tasks in there like eat breakfast, go to work, wash the dishes and that kind of thing. Instead, make sure the items on your list are extras; or in other words, the things you would not normally do.
The reason it is important to keep this schedule flexible is because life will never be the same week after week. If something comes up on a Monday or I sleep in and miss my workout, then I can push all workout days back one day and catch up that way. If you find that your list has tons of items with lots of details and you can’t fit it all in, it’s probably time to prioritize.
If you are looking for something more serious and scheduled with exact details then I recommending checking out ToDoist which I use daily and would probably struggle without.
Come Up with ‘Mini-ideas’ for Other Areas of Your Life
Some of the things we would like to work on don’t necessarily need scheduled or recurring tasks to keep them in order. For example, if you like gardening, it’s not like you will have to do the same thing week after week to keep your garden looking nice. Instead, you could dedicate a few weekends to getting things how you like them, and spend a few hours per month keeping things in order.
Additionally, for your health, instead of doing a regular program like going to the gym, you could try a one-month detox where you only eat raw food and drink water. This will have amazing benefits for you and for only 30 days per year, it’s not exactly excruciating.
If you look at the first section of this post I bolded the word ‘personality’ as an area of my life that I would like to work on. By personality I mean my behaviours, characteristics and my values. I’m a big reader and I came across the idea of a 21-day challenge in the book Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. Therefore I decided to create a 21-day challenge for myself and it turned out to be an excellent mini-idea that I could use, and it also benefited thousands of my blog readers when I wrote about it.
Your imagination is your only limit when it comes to creating mini-ideas for areas of your life that don’t require schedules. You could spend a few weeks in another country to improve your language skills, take a Friday off work and enjoy a long weekend with relatives or even just buy a cook book and spend time to learn some new recipes.
If you can’t come up with any mini ideas then you could do some brainstorming online or re-evaluate how important this item really is to you.
Identify Time Wasters
As I’ve stated, there are going to be people with a list and plan far greater than mine. This is partly because my responsibilities are quite small and I’ve managed to turn my hobby into my income source over the last few years. For those of you who are struggling to see where certain things you want to improve are going to fit into your life, it’s a good idea to identify time-wasters.
Did you know that the average American by the age of 60 years old has spent over 10 years in front of the TV? 10 years looking at a screen that is probably most often showing the lives of fictional people. Remember that there are 24 hours in every day. Let’s say that your job takes up 9 of those and your sleep takes up 8. That is still 7 hours of free time that you have available; quite a lot if you think about it.
Even if you include making food, looking after your kids, getting up in the mornings to get washed and dressed then there are still a good 3-4 hours to work with every single day. Even if you have a 9-5 job and want to get all areas of your life in order, you still have plenty of time to do it…as long as you rid yourself of the timewasters.
Possible time wasters include:
- Procrastinating on jobs you are doing
- Waking up at the last possible minute, even though you’ve had enough sleep
- Browsing the internet for no real reason
- Gaming on your computer
- Watching the TV
Everyone reading this leads different lives, so it’s up to you to make an honest self-assessment and look at the possible time wasters in your life and eliminate those where necessary. Remember I managed to build the majority of my internet business today while working 7 days per week. I didn’t even have weekends to give me a solid run of directed effort, just a few hours here and there.
Even if you only find 3 hours in a week day, that could still be an hour for the gym, an hour working on building an internet income and some time devoted to your children are partner. Things can be simple if you let them be so.
Balance Will Only Make You Efficient, Not Happy
Balancing all areas of your life is an excellent idea for people who feel they may be neglecting things or even people. Taking the action steps in this post will also be great for people who have goals but need to make time for them in their otherwise busy schedule. However, if you are looking for life balance to make you happy, then I’m sorry to say that you’re searching in the wrong field.
I’m sure some of you are instantly thinking something along the lines of:
“If I get to quit my day job then I’ll be happy”, “If I get to work on my goals then I’ll always be smiling”
How do I know? Because I’ve been down the exact same path. It used to take me about an hour to get home from my job each day, most of it on foot. I kept saying to myself how amazing it would be to get to work on my projects full-time and how perfect life would be if that were the case.
Well, I’m now in that situation, and while I fully appreciate my opportunities, it’s not where my happiness comes from. True happiness comes from being here, in this moment, right now. Look around you, take everything in. The sounds, the smells, the energy of the environment and just everything you can sense. Stop resisting everything around you, even if the smells are bad and the energy is dull…so what. Feel your inner body and just let everything be. Everything right now is as it is, and it always will be that way.
Don’t wait for happiness to come to you, recognize it in your surroundings and inner-energy at any moment of time.
Be grateful for the fact that somewhere in this world you’re able to sit down, relax, and read an article on a subject that wants to help you transform your life. Are you going to be the kind of person that takes action, or are you going to sit back and watch the script of your life unfold like it will for those who view the past as something they regret.
It is up to you.