Are you constantly trying to juggle kids, cleaning the house, your job or business, family life and getting stressed out doing it? Do you feel like you can never find the right work/life balance?
A few weeks ago I had coffee with my friend, Attila and we discussed work life blending instead of balance. When we are trying to balance something it’s like walking a tightrope. When you are blending something you make it all work and mix together. You can check out Attila’s thoughts on it here.
I have a variety of things going on in my life between 2 daughters, health issues, work, charity work, housekeeping and a relationship. Some days it feels like a lot to manage. This year with so many health issues, medical procedures and a big change on the home front, I struggled to find my balance. More recently, I realised it is not about a work life balance. I was not blending my life properly. I was letting myself be pulled in too many directions and getting stressed out over it. I ended up injured and quite sick because of it. I scaled back then the past few weeks, I let too many things creep in.
Today, driving home, I had a minibus pull into my lane and cause damage down the whole side of my car and push me off the road. It was pretty scary. I almost hit a pole and somehow managed to stay in control of my car, pull over and get it sorted. I can’t open the drivers door anymore and while it will get repaired through their insurance, I was really shaken up by it.
Only moments before the bus hit me I had been looking at my life and decided I needed to scale back. I needed to pull out of some of the stuff I had committed to and instead focus on my daughters, my relationship and making my personal life blend. I had too many balls in the air and I was feeling it.
I saw the bus come into my lane, I beeped but we were parallel and there was nothing I could do. Worse still, I am in a lot of pain. Considering I am already on high pain killers to help heal my back, it’s not a good sign when you are in pain while on them and your legs keep shaking/twitching. As awful as this experience is, there is good from it.
That moment solidified my decision. I do not need to do all I do. I do not help anyone when I am taking on too much.
How do you learn to blend your life?
I have gone through a significant growth phase in the last few years after leaving my marriage, being homeless, leaving the church I grew up and I am still learning. I don’t feel I really know myself at this point and I am both excited and scared by that. I feel about 10 years behind everyone. When most people spend their teens and early adulthood finding themselves or working out what is important to them, I was in a strict religion then a controlling marriage. I feel like only now I am learning who I am and what is important to me. Despite that, a couple of my core values are super easy to see and have never changed. My thoughts on religion, spirituality, relationships and many aspects of my life have been evolving and I am enjoying it, but the following core values never waiver:
This is my daughter and I right after I arrived home on New Years Eve. She ran out, hugged me and fell asleep in my arms. My sister snapped this pic and I am grateful. This is the most perfect start I could have had for 2015.
My family is the most important part of my life which has meant at times turning down amazing opportunities and right now it means I am not doing much work outside of the home for the next 4 months while we go through some changes here. It has been hard knocking back some of these opportunities but knowing that in my heart my family comes first it made those decisions easier.
I feel if you don’t have integrity, you have nothing. Being honest no matter what in everything you do is crucial.
Health cannot be bought. No amount of money or anything else is more important to me than my health. If I do not have my healthy I cannot be the mum I want to be and that is devastating to me.
Charity is pretty clear in all I do. It is not about being better than others but about doing what I can to help make the world a better place, improve the lives of others and basically love everyone, no matter who they are or what they have done. Trying to see the good in everyone and every situation, trying to help wherever possible and not judging anyone.
If you want more tips on finding your core values check out these articles I have read and enjoyed:
2.) Manage your time
I posted some tips to help you find an extra 30 hours a week. It was broken into a few simple reasons we have time management issues and then some tips to find more time:
Stop wasting time comparing yourself with others and trying to compete. Be true to yourself, set your own goals and work on yourself.
Stop trying to be superwoman (or superman). We are told we can and should do it all. It is not possible. There are only so many hours in a day. Do not beat yourself up if you aren’t living up to what you perceive everyones expectations are of you. Know your values and what you want to do then stick to that.
Keep a time diary to see where and how you spend your time.
Learn to say no! (More on this in tip 3)
Ask for help. I wrote about that here. It is not a sign of weakness and no one can do everything on their own. When I was growing up we lived in a community. Everyone helped each other with everything. Society today really lacks the sense of community from my childhood. Ask for help. Connect with others. Create your own community.
Schedule time for yourself. You can’t help anyone if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
Pick something to improve, one thing and work on that. Don’t tackle everything at once. Do one thing at a time. It doesn’t matter what you start with as long as you start.
Outsource and insource! If it is not 100% vital that you do that task, get someone else to do it. Outsource things like cleaning, gardening, business matters with a virtual assistant etc. At first it feels like a luxury but think about the value of your time, what you could do with the time spent doing things like cleaning vs how quick someone else can do it and how much easier it makes your life. With insourcing, it is a matter of getting others in the home to do more. My daughters are 6 and 8. They seem more capable than many kids their age because I actively encourage and expect them to help at home. They enjoy helping and they take responsibility for things such as their chickens, their clothes etc. The more your children can do the better it is for them as you are teaching them life skills. Too many young adults have no clue how to do basics because their parents did everything for them.
Stop multi-tasking. Do one thing at a time. Set time limits if you need. Select the task, focus on it and it alone.
De-clutter your home and get organised. We are doing a massive purge in our house and it feels so much better.
3.) Say NO!
I’m a big believer of seizing opportunities, however, be realistic. Weigh up what you are already doing, how much whatever is being asked of you will take out of your time and decide if it is really something you want to do.
Too often we take on so many little things that when great things come up we can’t do them because we are too bogged down already.
When someone is asking you to do something or be somewhere, pause. Don’t answer straight away. Stop to think. Gather your thoughts and tell them you will think about it. You don’t need to answer right away. Then genuinely think about it, weigh it up and if you can’t, say you can’t or “No, I won’t be able to. Thank you for thinking of me.” Or something similar. Do NOT give excuses or reasons. You can simply say no.
4.) What works and what doesn’t?
Look at your life and write down what is working and what isn’t. Write down ideas on changes to make to enable you to find that work life blend you want. Whatever isn’t working you need to stop and change. You might need to cut it altogether. You may need to experiment to find what works for you. Remember, what works for one family isn’t necessarily what will work for you. Create your own life balance or blend.
5.) Get rid of toxicity
Toxic people and negative thoughts cause disruption in our lives and you do not need that. Get rid of toxic people to free up your mind and time for things you really want. As for toxic and negative thoughts, try meditation, counselling if you need, read self help books, write a list of 100 things you like about yourself to read when you feel down and start practising an attitude of gratitude.
6.) Plan ahead
In our house we have a few things that help with planning ahead and blending our lives.
Shared calendar. We have a calendar app, everything we are doing is put into it. We know exactly where each other will be, who needs to do what (such as school pick/drop off) and it has made our lives significantly easier and more organised.
Pick the big 3. Of an evening we write a list of the 3 most important tasks for us to accomplish the next day. There are lists for other little things that need to be done, weekly lists and so on but our focus is always on those 3 things for the day. It means no matter what we accomplish the most important tasks.
Menu plan and shopping lists. We live by the 4 hour body which makes menu planning and shopping extremely simple. We eat the same thing all the time. It has improved our health, our moods, our concentration, behaviour and lives overall.
Our lives get chaotic when we are not committed. If you are committed to your core values and living a life aligned with them, you won’t feel so unbalanced and overwhelmed. Commit to the life you want and cut out the crap.
What tips do you have for creating the ultimate work life blend (or work life balance if you still want to call it that?)
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