Who doesn’t want a better work-life balance? Not all of us are doing work we love, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make room for the other things we love. To happen intentionally, we need routines and systems that support our efforts to do it.
Exercise is not a component of my work, but I love to do it. It’s important to me. Recently, I had to revamp my schedule to make sure it included exercise regularly. Since the pandemic, the classes offered at my local fitness center have not been the same. Whereas the class times were perfect for my work schedule, now attending them would mean constantly juggling my workday to incorporate the classes I like the most. To avoid this, I decided to amp up my running outside (I love being outside anyway) and supplement using my home gym equipment when the weather was not conducive. Notice, I didn’t abandon my love for exercise. On the contrary, it remained a priority, and I tweaked the method for incorporation. I created a routine that prioritized what was important to me.
So, what’s important to you? And how can you develop a routine that gives you the balance to enjoy more of it?
Do you enjoy writing but find that most of your writing is responding to work emails or texts? Would you love to spend time relaxing on most weekends, but instead you’re still working on weekends? Do you long to incorporate some of the self-care practices you hear your friends talking about, but you haven’t been able to schedule them comfortably?
Having routines and systems saves us time. And doing repeatable tasks in the same order requires less mental energy and reduces decision fatigue. “The more decisions you have to make, the more fatigue you develop and the more difficult it can become,” according to Dr. Lisa MacLean, psychiatrist and chief wellness officer at the Henry Ford Health System. When you know the priorities and have a viable system to follow through, there is less energy utilized and consequently less stress.
Here are three tips to help you rock any routine and create better balance:
- Get down to the roots. What’s important to you? Start with your priorities. In this season of your life, what is essential? Sometimes this is your professional life and sometimes it is your personal life. For many, the temptation is to give the response that please others, but in the end, no one is happy if we aren’t truthful with ourselves. Therefore, only you can answer this one. Dig down deep to determine your true aspirations and be honest.
- Fill the jar with the Big Rocks first. Picture a jar on your desk with 3-4 big rocks, several pebbles and sand nearby. The big rocks are your overarching priorities on any given day. For me, my time in God’s Word and in prayer is the biggest rock. Consequently, it goes into the jar first. Now that you have completed the deep work above, what are the big rocks that support what’s important to you? Visualize yourself placing them in the jar first. What does that look like from a practical standpoint daily? How can you create a routine with the least amount of interruption, so you are sure to complete them? When we place the big rocks in first, we will have plenty of room for the pebbles and the sand. The reverse, not so much. Putting the pebbles and the sand in first may crowd out the important big rocks. Think about what may be a pebble or sand in your life: scrolling social media, shopping online for more stuff, watching TikTok videos, etc.
- Write it out. It’s harder to begin a routine that supports what you really want when it’s swimming around in your head. Don’t worry, you won’t be glued to a sheet of paper. But initially, it is worthwhile to get your thoughts and picture of your new routine down on paper. You will be better able to ascertain how feasible the plan is and identify the gaps that may be present. Developing a routine around important priorities consistently leaves room for the other things we enjoy doing because we are not torn feeling like there is something we “should” be doing instead. The priorities (big rocks) are taken care of already.
Big rocks may change, but there will always be big rocks. Why? Because we will always have priorities, whether we recognize them as such or not. Everything is not a priority, but some things should be. When we are overwhelmed constantly, we likely do not have priorities aligned with our core values, or we have not developed a viable routine and helpful environment that supports our priorities.
Use these tips to get started today. If you need more support creating an outstanding work-life balance and have trouble saying NO as you do it, get my FREE training to help at tabithaperson.com/NO.