Hi again, SuperMoms! I hope last month’s post got you thinking about ways to wrench control of your life from the jaws of the all-mighty to-do list. I loved reading all of your comments, so thank you for sharing your experiences!
As I mentioned last month, everyone’s idea of balance is going to look a little different due to varied values, priorities, obligations, and so on. It’s helpful to gain some clarity on what balance means to you, so let’s try a little exercise today.
To begin, jot down the most important priorities in your life. Your priorities will typically sync with your core values and current stage of life, and they are likely to change throughout the years. This is your list, so you can make it as specific or general as you need to, but for our purposes today, try to come up with a few basic categories.
Once you’ve completed your list, number the items down the left side according to their importance in your life.
A good starting point for achieving balance is to measure how well your daily life matches up to your priority list, so now number the items on your list down the right side in order of the amount of time you spend on each category.
So, are you living according to your priorities? I found that I wasn’t. I was spending almost all of my time on two categories – my kids and my work. Not surprising, of course, but I was neglecting a lot of other areas in my life that deserve attention too.
After some reflection, here’s my properly ordered priority list:
SELF – For too long, I haven’t made a deliberate effort to take care of myself. My physical health is suffering (and probably my mental health too!) I must set aside time for things that fill me up, like exercise and reading, or I won’t have anything in me to give to others.
SPOUSE – I am lucky to be married to be a supportive man who really is my best friend. But just like myself, he tends to slide down the priority list in favor of louder and more demanding little priorities! I’m committed to staying connected to my guy, so I’m prioritizing time alone with him and making him feel appreciated for all he does for our family.
KIDS – Are you surprised that my kids aren’t at the top of my priority list? This recent change comes as I’ve realized that while it’s true that my children demand the most of my attention, they are real time- and sanity-suckers! Let’s face it, if I DON’T put my husband and myself on the list ahead of these two, the whole ship is going down.
FAMILY & FRIENDS – Back in my corporate days, I worked a pretty weird schedule, making it tough to maintain a social life. Now I have an erratic work schedule, a work-tripping husband, and kids’ activities to contend with, but I’m more determined than ever to build connections with my family and with friends both new and old, so they get prime real estate on the priority list.
MY HOME – Since I work from home, I spend a lot of time inside these four walls. When we bought this house, we didn’t plan to live here for long, we never made much effort to turn it into a home. Now that we plan to stay indefinitely AND I work from home, it’s time to turn this place into a true sanctuary that nurtures our family. (We’ve gotten started on the makeover, watch my blog for some before/after photos to come soon.)
MY WORK – Work coming in last place on my priority list is surprising, especially to me! I’ve got some workaholic tendencies, and I’m incredibly lucky to have work that truly feeds my soul. Because I really do enjoy my work, I’ve let it take over so much of my time that it has crowded out everything else listed above, most notably time for myself and the people I love. A happy side effect to stepping back a bit: more time for clarity and creativity to blossom, and now I’m even more excited about the future of my business!
So how closely do your days match up to your own poriority list? Run into any surprises when you tried the excercise? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below- I’d love to hear from you!
Christy Johnson has two amazing little girls and a rock of a handsome hubby. She photographs Raleigh’s most adorable families and blogs her photography work and personal stories at Be True Image Design. Email her with your own struggles and triumphs with work/life balance at firstname.lastname@example.org.