With all the hustle & bustle of the holiday season and a new decade looming, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed and feel stressed out. Many people struggle to find the perfect “balance” between all the areas in their life- whether it be family, friends, partner, career, self, household, etc.…
To me, “balance” is a unicorn word... I’m not quite sold on it. While it sounds magical, I literally don’t think that it’s possible to feel balanced 24/7, or even honestly for half of that. Here’s my reasoning- we all have all these different areas in our life (let’s call them “silos”, for lack of a better word), and everyone’s silo situation is different. Usually, I’ll feel like I’m killing it in one of the silos, maybe even two, but the rest are nearly empty. If I get a bunch of time one week with my friends, I’ll feel like was slacking with work obligations. Or if I’m killing it at work, I’ll feel like my family and home-life got the shaft. I very rarely feel like all of my silos are adequately full, and if my silos aren’t all getting equal attention, how can I be balanced?
What I’ve learned over the last couple years is that different days/weeks/months call for different silo focus. Not all silos can be filled at the same time, so instead of trying to give your attention to all of them at once, fill them in waves. You may not be filling them all at the same time or at the same rate, but you’re also not completely leaving any out either- and that’s what’s important! It’s ok to not have them all filled at the same time or evenly. And once you are able to come to terms with that, I feel it lifts a huge weight off of your shoulders.
Below, I lay out a few things I like to do to ensure I’m staying as “balanced” as I can by keeping the attention on my silos. This is especially important to focus on during this busy season when there’s so much going on and it’s easy to leave a silo out.
Assess Your Silos Often: If there’s one big tip I can give for actually keeping that “balance”, it’s to regularly check-in on your silos. Think about each silo that’s important to you and see how you did that week, and keep tabs on what’s getting low. Set out a to-do list of everything that needs done, and then prioritize it so it’s more manageable. Lay out a general plan of attack so you know that what is on your list is doable and you don’t get overwhelmed wondering how to conquer it all. Doing this makes it so much easier to make sure you keep your focus on the silos that need it. I like to do this on Monday because I am off of work that day but the kiddo goes to school, so it’s the perfect time to sit in peace and do a check-in. Sundays are also a great option so you can start the week off on a positive note!
Pre-Plan Work: For many, work/career is one of those silos that we literally have to keep full to pay bills, so even though it may not be our favorite one to attend to, it’s important. So, how do you keep that silo full without losing control of all the others? Plan ahead! I know you obviously can’t plan all work in advance (Karen from the next cube over always has some catastrophic issue you have to help solve), but most of us can plan a good portion of it. If you have a 9-5 that you can leave and not bring anything home with you, it makes it easier to predict how your week is going to go. If you have a job where hours vary and the workload is different from day-to-day, planning ahead becomes so much more important.
You will have to adjust to fit your own personal situation, but the below tips are things that I do weekly to help me keep my work-life in check:
Create a project to-do list and put in order of deadline/importance.
Check your calendar (and your bosses, if you have access) for the week so you know what’s ahead.
Get rid of junk emails and keep the important ones as “unread” so they don’t get lost.
Keep your work emails & personal emails (hello all you sale notifications!) in completely separate accounts to reduce inbox clutter and distractions.
If you get ahead, keep right on working! It’s easy to slack off when you knock a bunch of things off your list quicker than you thought, but resist the urge! More often than not, something will come up that will set you back again in your schedule. It’s best to keep working ahead so when that thing does pop up, it won’t completely throw you off.
Set boundaries, and stick to them. if you need to leave Tuesday at 4 PM to make it to your kid’s recital, do not let anything get in your way of leaving at 4pm. Karen can handle her own shit for a day.
Delegate Tasks: For me, this one is hard because I can be a little controlling and don't like asking for help. While society makes us think that we should be able to handle it all ourselves with no problem, sometimes you just need someone to swap over the laundry for you or wash those dang dishes. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner, family member, or friend to help you out when you feel like you’re getting behind. Make it a fun friend night by ordering pizza and knocking out some things around the house while catching up and enjoying each other’s company. At work, take your coworker up on their offer to help if you’re plate is too full. Better to delegate than to let things start slipping through the cracks! It’s OK not to do it all yourself!
Take care of YOU: Of all the tips I could ever offer, this one is by far the most important. What’s crazy though, is that even though this one is the most essential, the “You” silo is usually the first to wind up empty. All of your other silos get filled from the You silo, so if that one runs empty how do you expect to fill all the others? This is one you need to pay close attention to and check in on daily.
Self-care doesn’t have to mean going to get massages, facials or fresh nails on the regular. While that would be amazing, most people don’t have the budget or the time for that. Self-care can be as simple as taking a walk on a nice day, reading a few chapters of a book, putting your phone and computer away and resting your eyes for a few minutes… you get the picture! Taking time for yourself to make sure YOU are good is the only way you can ensure that you have the energy to spread amongst all of your silos, which also means finding that ever elusive “balance” in your life.
Your silos may not all be full all the time, but that’s ok! Life balance doesn’t mean equal, it just means doing the best you can while still enjoying the crazy ride!