7 Steps to Create Balance in Your Life

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It is very easy to feel overwhelmed in life, not having a moment to yourself, not doing the things you love and spending too much time working, doing long hours in the office and then more at home. Creating balance within your life is about making conscious choices and behaving differently. Generally, when it comes to our lives being out of balance, it is because we spend too much time doing work related activities at the expense of our home life, our relationships or our health. If you feel that you don't have the right work/home life balance, then here are 7 steps to create balance in your life:

  1. Explore where you are in your life right now. Use the Wheel of Life to help you assess what's working well for you, which areas are giving you the greatest satisfaction or happiness. In doing this exercise, you'll be able to see at a glance which areas aren't positively contributing to the life you want, and which areas are the primary cause of the imbalance. As you complete the wheel, think about how much time you are spending at work or doing work or how many hours you are putting in each week. Are you getting the opportunities to relax, doing the things you love with the people important to you? Are you living a healthy lifestyle?
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  2. Identify what your priorities are. You can't do everything, there's not enough time in the day. Tackling the lowest scoring areas within The Wheel of Life first to create balance, and thus an easier life, determine what your top three priorities are within those areas. What do you need to focus on and what do you need to do?
  3. Once you have identified what you need to do, create SMART goals for those priorities and a step by step plan to achieve them. Then get working on them. Check out the blog post on SMART Goals if you want to know more.
  4. It might seem ridiculous but if you are struggling because of the perceived lack of time, it is useful to create a schedule for everything in your life. You might be used to time management in the workplace and structuring your work around a diary is essential, so why wouldn't you use a similar structure for your home life. When you are pretty full on and busy all the time, it is easy to be all consumed by work. No thought is given to you doing the things you enjoy, to having time to yourself. Each day becomes like the previous one, evenings and weekends fly by without you feeling like you have done anything, let alone achieved something.

    Try scheduling the priorities you have identified, creating a commitment to time to get those things done. Schedule activities such as time for you, relaxing, recharging your batteries, engaging in self-care etc. A schedule helps you commit to the time, it helps you make the conscious choice and be fully present in the activity you have scheduled. If you don't schedule things in, then more often than not, you won't do it; the habit of working, reaching for the wine bottle, sitting watching tv. zoning out or making a token effort will be the overriding behaviour. Why don't you try scheduling in a romantic meal with your partner each week, quality play time with the children, meeting up with your friends, a super relaxing bath, watching a movie you have been wanting to watch for some time? These small commitments can make a massive difference when creating greater balance in your life and helps you reconnect with the things that are important to you and your priorities.

  5. Be prepared to move out of your comfort zone. You don't want to be playing it safe all the time. If you want to have a more rounded, balanced life, you've got to make the right decisions to do so and not fear the consequences. We create the imbalance between our work and home life but at what cost? The job will still be there if you leave it once your shift has finished. Though for some people spending all their time working is a distraction strategy because maybe they don't like their own company, don't have any hobbies or interests, don't want to think about making changes because they don't know where to start. They are comfortable doing this, but are unhappy and in the end, it will be detrimental to their physical and emotional well-being.
  6. Create flexibility in your thinking and behaviour. No matter how much you plan or create balance in your life, something unexpected will happen. How you respond to this will determine what the outcome will be. But if you have learnt strategies for creating balance, you'll be in a better frame of mind and state to be able to deal with unexpected events. You won't be too tired or stressed out and will be able to respond effectively. You'll be able to come up with alternative solutions to problems, to bounce back quicker and not become overwhelmed by issues that are sometimes beyond your control.
  7. Have the right mindset. I have previously written about the power of positivity and about being responsible for your life, and both are important when it comes to creating the right balance between home life and work. What are you working for if you don't have time to spend the money you are earning? If you don't have any time to recover, to recharge, then how effective are you going to be when you are at work? Not working every hour you can, is not a negative reflection on you. Ask yourself, why you are not creating balance in your life? If your life has become all work, work, work, why is this and what are you going to do about it? You are in control of creating your future life. If you don't have balance, it is because you are choosing this, choose to do something different.

"Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life"

- Dolly Parton

Is Your Dream to Work from Home?

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Whilst working as an employee most of the time you have little say in where you work and for some professions and roles you can only ever work in one specific environment, for example, within a classroom of a school or on a ward within a hospital. In some professions there is the provision to work from home for some of the time, but the nature of public sector roles does not lend themselves to working from home full time.

One of the reasons why people start their own business is the freedom to dictate where you will work from. This is especially true if you have children and one of your motivating factors for making this kind of change is to be able to spend more time with them or so that you can be flexible with hours to tie into school runs etc. For me, a critical factor in being able to work from home was that we could have dogs again. Previously when we were both working full time, the hours we worked each day would have been too long for young dogs. Though there was a moment when we welcomed two springer pups into our home that we questioned our sanity at the decision to have dogs again.

If you're thinking of looking at opportunities where you can work from home, I thought in today's blog I'd explore the benefits and challenges of doing so.

Benefits

  • You have far greater flexibility. Maybe you are one of those people that works better at certain times of the day than others. Sometimes you might want to double up your time so that you can give yourself some time off another day. If you only want to work a set number of days, you can swap the days you work around to suit you when needed. It's also handy if you are internet shopper and you get Amazon deliveries just about every day.
  • There are no managers, colleagues, people ringing all the time etc, distracting you.
  • You can be more efficient and effective, often you can do more work in less time, especially as you have got rid of the annoying distractions.
  • No more Air Con Wars. No more listening to people whining they are too cold whilst hogging the window seat. No more fighting to maintain a constant temperature when people are turning the heater up to 30'C. You control the temperature of your domain.
  • You can play music, watch tv, make as many drinks as you like or work in your PJs if you want (I found I was less productive if did this, so for some it might be a challenge.) If you don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn you don’t have to.
  • Gone is the morning commute and all the stress and hassle that comes with that. Gone is going to and from work in the dark.
  • You don't have to work a 9-5 job so you're no longer a wage slave, and that is quite liberating.
  • It allows you to have better balance with home and family life.

Challenges

  • When you are just starting out, the worry about money if there is no regular income can be an issue. Though you soon realise that you don’t need as much money as before as you don’t eat out a lunch time any more and gone are your travelling costs.
  • It can get lonely working from home. You can go all day not talking to someone and you can't have office banter with the cat or dog. They just don't get it. Factor in time for meeting up with people for a coffee, attend network meetings or form your own small business network. You can bet that if you are feeling lonely from time to time, other people are as well.
  • Be strict with your time or schedule. Some days it can be easy to get stuck in a Netflix binge or watching day time TV, especially if you are procrastinating.
  • Other people don't think you have a "proper" job. They don't see what you do as work. So, you could be working longer hours than before, earning more money than in your previous employment but because you aren't physically leaving the house in the morning and coming home at night, it's not work.
  • Sometimes it is hard to separate work life and home life. If you do plan to work from home, try to have a separate room to act as your office space, this creates some demarcation between work and everyday life.

Hopefully if you are thinking of working from home on a permanent basis, today's blog has given you a bit of insight into the benefits and challenges of working from home.