It seems it gets harder and harder to find a way to feel balanced, especially with the influx of information coming at us around the clock. I remember as a child when the TV screen would turn into “snow” at midnight because there was no more programming available for the night. Then, things seemed to shut down and rest for a period of time. I’m not sure that exists for much in today’s world. It’s a constant barrage of information, notifications, and endless opportunities and while there certainly are benefits to this, it makes it hard to keep a healthy balance of work, play, and rest in our lives. I believe it can lead us to feeling significantly depleted. Balance is important because it allows us to focus on the aspects of our lives that matter the most while we are feel refueled and at our best.
How do you find that balance that you are seeking? Here are some suggestions for those who are interested in making improvements with finding balance.
1. Create a list of those aspects in your life that matter to you and/or you’d like to enjoy or accomplish. Prioritize this list. Evaluate how much energy you are giving to these important areas of your life right now (Perhaps on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not giving enough energy and attention to 10 meaning giving it plenty of energy). Examples of these areas that many find important to them are: family time, time with friends, time with a significant other, hobbies, self-care, physical health, and work to name a few.
2. Determine those areas in your life that cause you to be distracted or get off track. How often do these occur and when do these occur? An example of a distraction that is common for me is my use of technology (checking social media, email and text notifications, etc). There are also apps that can monitor our use of technology on phones/iPads/tablets/etc and can give us a close estimation of how much we are being distracted by the use of technology as well as when these distractions are occurring.
3. Create a plan to reduce these distractions and determine a schedule that will allow you to be more intentional with your time and give more energy to areas that are lacking. An example of a plan to reduce these distractions would be the following:
If I am struggling with being distracted by email and text notifications and I find that I am interrupted 47 times a day by this, I can set aside time when I will turn off my phone for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon so that I can be more intentional about where I am using my attention and energy. I can also make it a goal not to check these notifications until I am awake for at least one hour in the morning.
4. Find an accountability partner with whom you can share your new plan and check in with your progress. For me, my best accountability partner is my spouse due to him noticing most of my technology use in the morning, after work hours, and during the weekend. And he loves and cares for me enough to speak honestly and open about what he is noticing. Who would that person be for you?
By evaluating areas in our lives that are important to us and determining if sufficient time and energy are being given to these areas, we can begin to take steps to feel more fulfilled and balanced in our lives. If one aspect of my life is not receiving the energy it truly needs, such as self-care, I may find myself truly exhausted and out of sorts. Each of us has a varying degree of energy and time that we feel best when devoting to these different areas and we uniquely have differing priorities as well so my list may look quite unlike your list. There may also be things important to you that may not make my list and vice versa. No “right” answer or way of doing this really exists for anyone. It is individualized. But I think we do begin to feel out of balance when there are aspects of our lives not getting our attention and energy and we find we aren’t quite as fulfilled as we’d like to be. Hopefully by taking an honest look at what truly matters to you, evaluating how well you feel you are able to give adequate energy to those areas and making the necessary adjustments, you will find that you are enjoying a life of balance.