Work-Life Balance: Is it possible?
When my students first come to me for help, they often are ashamed that they can’t get a handle on work-life balance. Honestly, it’s unfortunate and disturbing. They feel humiliated that they can’t get this right.
On the surface, on shiny social media, it looks like “Everybody else can do it. Why can’t I?”
We all have one standard commonality ~ how our brains work. In anxiety and grief, my discouraged students ask me, “Is work-life balance possible?”
I answer, “Honestly? It depends on your willingness to try.”
And I don’t mean that harshly… I simply mean that you’re so human!
Studies show that people typically have over 70,000 insights per day. This roughly works out to you having 2917 thoughts per hour and then 49 ideas per minute.
In this very reasonable, very human “70K thoughts per day” reality, work-life balance is impossible because our thoughts run rampant. There’s no order, only chaos. And with stress, 10x that chaos.
When it comes to creating a work-life balance…
First, you must know what’s running around in your head. Second, you must be deliberate about your choices. Creating a work-life balance is a discipline of staying mindful and making intentional choices one after the other ~ at the moment.
I’ve worked with countless women, parents, leaders, and entrepreneurs and taught each of them how to get a handle on their “70K.” Let’s tackle what’s running around in your head for now. There are three steps to this critical work.
Step 1: Do a brain dump.
Here’s how. We’ll do it together right now.
Grab a timer, 2 different colored writing utensils, and paper.
Don’t start yet. Let me give the directions first.
For 1 minute, choose 1 colored pen/pencil. Start in the center of a blank piece of paper and write down your first name and circle it. Now you’re going to write offshoots or lines from your name and circle those too. You’re making connected bubbles.
Frequently, people like to categorize their thoughts in their minds. So they’ll take their name in the center and make a few lines to 1. Business 2. Home 3. Kids 4. School. Whatever makes sense to you, make those overarching categories.
Then, make offshoots from those. You might put down specific tasks from the business you have to do like call up a customer, send out a bill, etc. You might put down specific tasks like calling the plumber and vacuum the living room from the home bubble.
Get all these immediate thoughts out of your head.
We’ll do this for 1 minute with 1 pen color. Then when the first minute is up, put down that pen and choose another one/another colored pen, and for 4 more minutes, we’ll continue the braindump.
I color code my brain dumps to get an idea of what’s truly top of mind. After the five minutes are up, I can then intentionally prioritize or problem-solve these actions first and not let the other ideas distract me from what I think is most important. Just by doing this, you’ve taken a step toward balance.
And it doesn’t matter if they’re all work or all family issues. Your thoughts are valid and fair.
Back to the exercise. Statistic-wise, to be fair, you should have written out 245 bubbles (49 thoughts per minute X 5 minutes).
Step two: Confront reality.
With stress plus all “this” running through your head, no wonder you feel that work-life balance is impossible.
How dare you not be able to create a work-life balance! After all, you only have 245 thoughts per 5 minutes. You only have a sheet covered in “Things to do” bubbles, and your mind is still running, and you can think of more, but time’s up, so you can’t add them now…AHH!
Not so, I’m being silly.
Step 3: Forgive yourself.
Instant gratification? Let it go.
World on your shoulders? Drop it for now.
Forgive yourself for mistakenly believing that work-life balance is a constant feat ~ a Facebook profile full of hot dates, trips to the beach, and healthy smoothie pictures.
Your thoughts continuously shift. Shift with them. Doing this is what makes a work-life balance possible.
Just for today, choose three things to do that will move your life or business forward. You’ve got this! Save worrying and planning for the next brain dump.
Janet Johnson is a small business advisor and author of My Money Pivot: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Finding & Making More Money and this educational blog. All views expressed belong solely to Ms. Johnson and do not represent the views of her employer. The website, MyMoneyPivot.com, is currently managed by Luz Marcos, Virtual Assistant.