Life is all about, dare I say it, balance. Now by balance, I do not mean that we need to have everything equally balanced. Let's be realistic, everyone's ideals are different and sometimes there are areas of our lives which need more attention that others.
However, what I do mean is making sure we make time for all our priorities.
Those who know me well know that I am particularly prone to working earlier and earlier and later and later, particularly when I am feeling stressed. However, it is at time like this that it is crucial to incorporate a little of everything that makes us happy.
I love my job but really will spending every second of every day working make me happy and is it really the best use of my time? No, life it about little and often. Whether that be in the office the working, spending time with our family and friends, caring for ourselves, our homes and enjoying hobbies it is important that we include a little of everything to maintain a happy life. Another thing you can be sure of is that it doesn't take long for one weak area to impact the others. For example does the time you spend at work impact your home and family life regularly? Does an argument at home with your partner impact your ability to focus at work? How is your ability to deal with a complex task when you have had a bad nights sleep or you are ravenously hungry?
Many of us are used to planning our work days, prioritising the task which need to be done and allocating time spent on each case. However, how many of us adopt the same approach to the rest of our lives. I can guarantee we are among the many guilty of not incorporating enough family time, social time, gym time, relationship time into our routines and somehow expect it to fit about the edges of everything else.
The best way to overcome this is to apply the same methods you apply to your work life to all areas of your life.
Consider your roles. Are you a mother, a father, an employee, an entrepreneur, a gym bunny, sports freak, book worm, master chef, student, home owner, daughter, son, sister, brother, friend?
Once you have identified your roles consider how important these are to you and how much time you devote to each. Are there any areas lagging behind that could do with a little more love and affection?
Then make time. Create a routine incorporating each of your important roles. Make time to see your partner, a coffee date with a friend, time to go to the gym, time to read, time to cook and schedule it in. Make sure you tell others so they are able to keep you accountable or alternatively so they know when you'll be busy Work colleagues can be great at this. For example, if you decide that you are spending too much time at work and leaving on time a few days a week will not have you falling behind, let them remind you that you said you would leave on time. I have a great colleague who is happy to be my talking clock giving me half an hour warnings before I need to leave work in time three days a week.
Create a routine incorporating each of your important roles. Make time to see your partner, a coffee date with a friend, time to go to the gym, time to read, time to cook and schedule it in. Make sure you tell others so they are able to keep you accountable or alternatively so they know when you'll be busy Work colleagues can be great at this. For example, if you decide that you are spending too much time at work let them remind you that you said you would leave on time. I have a great colleague who is happy to be my talking clock giving me half an hour warnings before I need to leave work three days a week.
Consider whether there is anything that will make your life a little easier and free up some extra time. For example, do you have a long commute that sucks hours from your day? As technology increases so does the opportunity to work from home. Perhaps approach your employer to see if working from home one day a week is a viable option to free up some time for something else.
So how can this work in practice?
Up until recently I was studying "part time" (who ever came up with the idea that 24 hours of studying whilst handling a fulltime job was part-time was clearly mad as it is harder than it sounds), working full time as a lawyer (a role that is renowned for having more than the usual fulltime hours) and commuting 4 hours a day. Now I am not going to say this was by any means easy but in the last few months before my final exams with the support of my colleagues, family and friends I managed to find a routine to juggle it all and remain sane in the process. Of course everyone is different but I found that the following worked best for me:-
Monday to Thursday - Wake up early and exercise in the morning
Monday to Wednesday - Leave work at 5:30pm (with the help of my talking clock colleague)
Thursday - Work late to my hearts content.
Friday - Work from home, close down by 5:30pm for date night or family night (alternate each week)
In incorporating more time for myself I was able to feel more on top of my work, I was a friendlier person to be around, my partner was happy because I was home more and happy not to see me on a Thursday night when I was working late and we had fun spending quality time together on a Friday night.
So there it is... have fun creating a routine that works for you.