Work-life balance takes some thought and planning, but it’s achievable. This approach clarifies where you are compared to where you want to be in terms of balance and helps you develop strategies to get there.
In steps 1 and 2 you determined where you want to be spending your time. In steps 3 and 4 you assessed where you’re currently spending time and re-evaluated what you thought about your goals. In step 5 you developed strategies for creating new habits and making time for them. Step 6 is all about sticking to the plan in the face of established behaviors and temptations.
6 tips to help you stick to your strategies for work-life balance
This is where the rubber hits the road. You’ll need to be disciplined about what you add and about what you delete. Consider that anything you currently do repeatedly is a habit, in that it is done naturally without much thought. There’s comfort in its repetition and it can be done quickly and/or automatically. Breaking any habits or creating new ones can feel like work, or like discomfort, and may consume more time at first. Here are 6 tips to help you succeed. There are also a number of resources on the internet with a wide range of good ideas to help you out. Just google “creating a new habit”.
1 – Make a deliberate schedule and stick to it
Use the color coded calendar, but this time pre-schedule your activities throughout the week and treat the schedule as you would if you were being watched by a boss. Stay focused on the activity you’ve scheduled until your time is up. When your mind wanders to other activities, make notes so you don’t forget what you were thinking and then put them aside.
2 – Maintain a list of productive activities for unplanned moments and be prepared
Your schedule is your new best friend through this process. When it goes off track through no fault of your own – your friend is running late, your meeting gets postponed, your bike gets a flat or other such unplanned events that mess up your schedule – if you have other useful activities on hand to fill the space you’ll be less inclined to default to your comfortable time wasters.
3 – Introduce new habits incrementally
Readjust thoughtfully and take it a step at a time. If you’ve scheduled an hour for yoga for instance, take it easy at first. Spend some of that first hour learning about yoga and some practicing it. This balance will shift as you progress but it will also help to reinforce a learn-as-you-go model that will be useful in advancing to higher levels of practice. Joel Gascologne describes an incremental process that has served him very well in creating a new and balanced morning routine.
4 – Be accountable to someone who’ll be disappointed if you renege
If you can, schedule new habits with friends so that you’re accountable to them to show up. For me this works for many well being and hobby activities, and naturally works for the social category. At the same time it enables me to take advantage of combining activities. So I’m more deliberate now about scheduling yoga and outdoor pursuits with friends as well as painting or cooking sessions. A monthly book club keeps me reading.
If you’re self-employed, a possibility to consider is sharing an office (or coffee shop if that’s your work place) with someone you like and who prefers to have you around to help motivate them to work as well. This works the same way as having an exercise partner.
5 – Expect new activities to take longer and be harder
Don’t get discouraged by the unfamiliarity or discomfort of doing something new. Instead, look forward to when these actions become second nature, acknowledging that you have to repeat them to get there. Don’t give up, even when you break your stride. Persistence is one of your most critical tools.
6 – Savor and enjoy
The single most important action you can take to ensure your success at re-balancing your life is to have a positive attitude about it. Look forward to every step of it, marvel at what you’re learning from it and how your perspective is changing and notice and congratulate yourself on your progress. Maintain your hopefulness about where it’s going to get you and your excitement about the benefits you’re expecting.
How’s it going for you?
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