Everyone wants to find balance in their lives. For most, it’s probably top of the priority list but it feels like something we never actually get round to sorting. “I just want a more balanced lifestyle” I hear you say but have we become prisoners of time and is operating by the clock the reason we don’t have balance?
Let’s face it, when it comes to time, there’s always stuff to do. I can’t think of anyone I know that has time to just “do nothing”, life is busy whether it’s with work, children, keeping on top of house chores, the constant juggle of life admin, there’s always something to do but perhaps the key is looking at what you need to do and what you want to do rather than how much time we have.
If you’re the type of person who makes a list at the start of each week or day, then I can almost guarantee that activities such as go to the gym, sit and read a book or other leisure activities get pushed to the bottom until eventually they fade away and no longer feature on any of the lists you make. When you hit this point, a sensation of unbalance can leave you feeling overwhelmed. So what can you do?
Set firm boundaries – you don’t need to start big. Start by separating your time in two chunks – “doing time” and “me time”. It could be in a form of cut off perhaps, for example – “I’m busy with my to-do list until 7pm but then after that it’s my time. This is a boundary and no matter what comes up (a work email, a text from a friend or family asking you to do something or even if something springs to mind that you didn’t get done pre 7pm), push it into tomorrows “work boundary”. This is a quick win towards getting some balance back in your life.
Accept that it will never be enough and that’s okay – you could probably do 1000 things in a day and suddenly 1000 more things would appear. Work, admin, house chores, even socialising is cyclical so if you miss one cycle, it doesn’t matter – just pick it up on the next go. As a society, driving ourselves to exhaustion seems to have become a real obsession, a trend if you like. People feel like they’re failing if they’re not completely exhausted and we’re doing so at the cost of our own happiness, wellbeing and mental health. For me, this is a pandemic in itself.
I recently met with a friend and when we got talking, he told me that he only worked 3 days a week – Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. In response I asked him if there wasn’t enough work for him to work a full week or even 6 days and his response completely baffled me, in fact I was left with no words at all. “I only want to work 3 days, so I do” and it suddenly dawned on me that I had so much to learn from him. He worked less, not because he couldn’t work more, but because it paid enough for him to live happily and have time to do the things he wanted to do. He mentioned he would often spend half a day reading or learning a new skill, he would go to the cinema, music concerts, explore parts of London he has never seen. He didn’t spend all this spare time cleaning, doing paperwork or anything of the sort. He just spent his time filling his soul with things that made him happy and he was actually happy. The conversation we had there really made me reflect on how I operate, and I realised it’s time to take a moment to set boundaries and take me time, because it’s okay and no one should be able to make me feel guilty for doing so. I am caring for myself, I am finding balance and I am achieving much more each day because I’m rested, well and my brain can actually focus.
So no, balance shouldn’t be about time, because there will never be enough of it. it’s about finding balance each day rather than as a whole, allowing yourself to breath and be mindful that whatever gets left today, will probably still be there tomorrow.