As the new semester begins tomorrow, I am already being swamped with emails, expectations, due dates, meetings, and piles of obligations. The thought of trying to balance work, school, other commitments, and still have a social life is often overwhelming. Through all the craziness of life, I am reminded that I have done it for three semesters and can do it for five more.
I have always had the drive to work hard for what I want and need to accomplish in life. I find success in being busy. When I have a lot to accomplish I tend to manage my time better, have more motivation, and get a tremendous amount of work done. Sadly, often times I take on too many obligations and begin to feel in over my head. I eventually have to force myself to take a step back and reevaluate my priorities. Once those are determined, I find the time to concentrate scheduled time and energy on my top priorities.
Balance is essential. It is a feeling or sense of harmony. It is essential to maintain your balance because without it things become too overwhelming to handle. Allowing yourself to become overwhelmed tends to make you less productive and far too stressed. Trust me when I say, I don’t have it all together when it comes to balance.
Below you will find the top six things I feel are most important to me regarding a balanced life.
- It is okay to say no. My biggest weakness is my inability to say no when it needs to be said. I want to help everyone, get involved in numerous projects, and the obligations begin to pile up and before I know it I seem to have lost control. When this happens, I cannot complete each task to the quality I expect of myself and become frustrated. I had to learn this the hard way. I still struggle with this often but seeing the benefits of being willing to say no has been incredible. I don’t say no because I don’t want to help or I don’t care about someone in my life. I say no if I think I cannot handle the obligations that come along with saying no.
- Get organized. When it comes to staying organized my planner becomes my best friend. Most people who know me would say I get a little crazy with my planners, to-do lists, and organizers. I will be the first to say I have way too many, but it is a habit that helps me stay focused and prioritized. Each one has its designated purpose in providing organization and structure to my hectic daily schedule. One planner is chalked full of my thoroughly planned schedule while the next is a list of each assignment for school that is due each day of the week, and the last is full of my to-do lists regarding every other aspect in my life. Whether it be the gym, my meals, or sorority meetings or deadlines, it is all written out and color coded. Now please do not feel the need to go as crazy as I do, but a little organization and structure never hurt anyone and hopefully you will find it helpful.
- Daily routines. Following a daily routine seems to work out really well for me. I wake up and usually start my day out with the same activities and then head for the door. Each day at work or school is mapped out in my planners so I do not have to worry about it throughout the day and focus on completing the tasks at hand. I come home and yet again have another routine I follow. Although these are not exactly the same each day, creating a pretty balanced routine helps to keep you on track and remember to take care of yourself throughout the day.
- Have support systems. I believe that having friends and family who encourage and cheer you on each day of life really helps to keep me motivated. If you don’t already have someone in your life who you can go to for advice, reassurance, or help try and find someone who is willing to go through this journey of life with you. It makes things much easier and enjoyable.
- Simplify your life and schedule. Over this past year, I had to sit down and simplify my life and schedule. It was so hard for me to choose between so many activities that had stolen my heart. It is never easy letting go of something you strongly care about. Throughout the simplifying process, I realized that I didn’t have to always give something up for good. An example of this would be my choice to step away from being a leader in my church high school ministry. I loved seeing the students I lead get together each week and pour into each other. Although I miss this more than anything I realized that giving this up didn’t mean it was forever, it meant that this moment in my life wasn’t the right time to be the leader I wanted to be. Even though I gave this up I fully intend to return when I believe it is the right time in my life. All of this to remind you to be willing to simplify and cut down your schedule to make it more manageable.
- I often forget that the mind, body, and soul need time to relax, renew, and refresh. It is critical to set aside downtime to take care of yourself and enjoy life. When you step away from the crazy and listen to the silence of life you gain a perspective that can help you make better decisions and work to create a better-balanced life. Take “me” time. Whether that is taking a bath, staying in for the night, spending time reading a book, or working out “me” time helps relieve stress and keep you grounded in yourself. I urge you to never forget to set aside time for yourself.
All of us need to begin to recognize and remember how important balance is in our lives. Set goals for yourself regarding time management that include time to spend with family and taking care of yourself. Realize that personal needs should come before anything else because if you aren’t taking care of yourself how do you expect to care for others? Balance isn’t easy for me and I have to work for it daily, but I can assure you the benefits are quick to be noticed.
Thought for this next week: Is your life balanced?