5 Tips for Balancing a Busy Lifestyle
Updated: Jan 16, 2020
"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." - Stephen Covey
I’ve spent a good portion of my life attempting to manage a chaotic lifestyle packed full of events and activities, so staying organized is an absolute necessity. Becoming a parent definitely added some new and interesting challenges that have forced me to make adjustments to figure out the best way to manage my time. Being a working mom who is also involved in multiple activities outside of work while trying to make taking care of myself a priority, keep the house in order, have dinner ready on time so my family doesn’t starve, and be a good partner to my husband and mother to my daughter is a constant balancing act.
A few weeks ago, I had received some requests to write about how I balance a busy lifestyle. At that time, I was settling into a great place in life in terms of managing all of the things I had going on day-to-day and felt overly confident in my "work/life balance" for the first time ever. As it goes, life decided to throw yet another curveball at me as I found myself taking on another task to be added to my schedule, and so the balancing act began again. (Life is funny that way.) In the midst of it all, I was able to pull from my experience and follow my own advice to find a way to make it all work. If you find yourself seeking balance in your daily life, I hope this helps.
Here are my top five tips that have helped me to balance a busy lifestyle:
1. Get on a schedule.
I have always been a major proponent for schedules. My daughter was on a schedule by six weeks old, because I fail miserably at life and cannot function without a certain amount of routine and predictability. If I didn’t have a schedule telling me where I’m going and what I’m doing at all times, I’d be a complete disaster. The calendar on my phone is constantly loaded full of color-coded events each day. I have reminders for every single work event, extracurricular event, personal event, and family event that occurs and I have used this practice to stay organized throughout my life. Yet somehow, it took me nearly a decade of owning our own home before I realized that including the [daunting and unbearable] household tasks (that I had an old habit of putting off as long as possible) into my schedule would be life changing. I started by picking a day during the week that I would tackle the regular chores that keep our household functioning, and I added the events to recur on my personal calendar for that day each week. Week after week, I started to feel less stressed about chores building up over extended periods of time and felt more accomplished and relaxed once they were finished each week. Implementing a schedule for everything that I need to accomplish has been extremely beneficial for my overall productivity.
2. Plan ahead. When it feels like I’m stretched in a million different directions, the last thing I want to do is try to figure out how to squeeze something else into my day at a moment’s notice. On Sundays, I look over my schedule for the upcoming week so that I can figure out exactly what we have going each day. This process helps me to mentally prepare and it also keeps me on track with eating healthy. I know firsthand that if I do not have a meal planned or the ingredients necessary to make a healthy meal, we’ll be going through the drive-thru or eating some junk processed food at the last minute. Planning meals ahead of time allows me to visit the grocery store once a week to get all of the ingredients we need for the week and helps me to plan for the crazy busy days when crockpot meals are a must. (Check out my favorite recipes for some ideas on quick and healthy meals for those super busy days.)
3. Make time for yourself. Self-care is so important, and because I spent many years putting my own self-care last on my list of priorities (if it was even there at all), I know all too well how easy it is to push to the side when you are pulled in a million directions. This is where analyzing my schedule and planning in advance comes into play again. When I’m looking at my calendar for the week, I add my workouts to my personal calendar because it holds me accountable and helps me to see that I actually do have time to squeeze in that much-needed self-care. I am not a gym member, so I work out independently, often when my daughter is present. I am able to accomplish 30-60 minute workouts regularly by incorporating her or keeping her busy with her own activity during that time. When the weather is nice, we enjoy stroller runs together or family walks and bike rides. (Check out some of my favorite at-home workout videos here.)
4. Be flexible. No matter how much planning and scheduling you do, sometimes things may not work out as you had intended. Unforeseeable events are part of life, and when they happen, you have to make adjustments. If something unexpectedly pops up that doesn’t allow you to get your laundry done that day, or you aren’t able to fit in that workout you had promised yourself you would do, or you find yourself off track with your healthy diet, don’t throw in the towel and make excuses for why one setback or one bad day gives you permission to go back to old habits or to quit making yourself a priority. When things don’t go as planned, be flexible and allow for adjustments to your routine so that you can reset, reschedule, and start fresh.
5. Ask for help. Sometimes asking for help can be the most difficult thing to do (coming from the Queen of Doing It All Herself), but it is so necessary and so worth it. Have your spouse keep the kids during your "me" time/time with friends and do the same for them when they need it. Allow family members or friends to take turns babysitting, or seek out someone trustworthy that you can hire to spend time with your kids so that you can accomplish the things that you need to do in order to be as healthy and happy as possible. Taking help when it’s offered and even asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It will make you happier, healthier, and stronger in the long run.
If you generally aren’t a scheduler or planner but want to figure out how to get more organized and find balance with your life, ease into it by recording your activities as you go along for few days, or even a week, to see how you’re spending your time. No matter how full your days are, you’d be surprised to see that there usually are windows of time to take care of yourself and accomplish all of the tasks on your list. If it seems overwhelming, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to figure it all out at once. Even one change at a time will put you on the path to finding that balance.