You need balance.
Balance between life and work, family and friends, exercise and rest, fun and boredom.
But let me tell you this.
Balance is a load of bullshit.
Balance is impossible.
It’s impractical. It doesn’t exist. It’s a fairytale created by all those active-wear- loving, look-like-you-have-it-all type of people who hide in the bathroom and scream their heads off because they can’t control their child but telling you that everything is oh-so-perfect on the outside whilst their searching for a nanny, cleaner and chef to buy them more time types.
Yes. I’m stereotyping. So what?
I’ve been searching for some sort of balance for years. I’ve realised that it’s never going to happen. Not in the way that I imagined it at least.
You can’t have a perfectly balanced day between work, play, health, fun and responsibilities and still manage to sleep, eat and shit in peace (you’ll understand if you have kids banging on the door begging for your attention at the most inopportune times because they just have to have a glass of water RIGHT NOW).
I make time for everything but there’s no way that It’s balanced.
There are weeks were I’ll be constantly working, my brain buzzing with energy and ideas, and if it’s not I force it. Then there are weeks that I have to recharge and no matter how much I push nothing coherent emerges.
I’ll go through periods of manic training where I can swim, cycle and run for hours through the week. Then I’ll stop and do nothing.
It’s crazy. It’s certainly is not balance.
I work. I write. I hang out with my son. I exercise and take part in marathons and triathlons. I spend time with family and friends. I sleep six to seven hours most nights, and make time to put my feet up for a glass of wine. Occasionally, I might even pick up the vacuum or cook dinner.
If you call that balance, then yeah I have it. Or at least I create some type of resemblance of the concept.
Most of my week is spent working. If I’m not working in the office, I’m spending 12 hours commuting. During that commute I’m working on my side hustles, like The Naughty Investor, or I’m living in a fictional world writing my novels.
After work I rush to get some training done whether it’s a run, 20 minutes of yoga or a 16 minute Tabata workout that my son loves to do with me. His burpees are better than mine! So that doubles as quality time.
Then it’s a quick moment of play, dinner, bath, watch a bit of Cars or Finding Dory and tuck him into bed, sing a song and hope he doesn’t postpone bedtime by asking to go to the toilet a dozen times.
By this stage it’s 8pm and I’m exhausted.
If I can muster the energy I’ll write a blog post, edit the book I’m working on at the time, attempt some marketing, read a book or occasionally watch a movie or episode of a series – if I’m lucky. At the moment I’m hooked on The Night Manager. OMG, Tom Hiddlestein, amazing. And not just the looks department – the man can act.
The majority of my waking hours are spent working. Even now whilst I should be relaxing in the evening watching trashy tv or having a deep and meaningful with the hubby, I’m working.
Then it starts all over again at 5ish the next morning.
Friday’s are fun days. And the weekend is whatever happens.
But I try to get in 4-6 hours of training (swimming, cycling, running) during the weekend and that usually starts at 5:30am so it’s about of the way by the time my son wakes up.
I see friends. Spend time with the family.
Lots of quality time with my son.
And hope that I will still be able to fit in a few hours of work for my side hustles although that doesn’t always happen which is frustrating.
Do I feel balanced?
Most of the time I feel like I’m running in high gear and I don’t know how to stop.
What I have learnt is that balance is not the same for everyone.
There is no one size fits all.
For those who hate work, your balance will mean less time working. For workaholics like me, balance means working when I need to so shit gets done and I’m not frantic and grumpy later on.
It’s impossible to divide your week into perfectly equal segments of work, play, sleep and whatever else is on your to-do list.
You need to divide it between the segments that are most important to you.
Seek quality over quantity.
6 STEPS TO FINDING YOUR OWN KIND OF BALANCE
1. Think about the things that you want to do.
For example: go for a run, have a bath, call a friend, host a dinner party, read a book, play in the park.
2. Consider all the things that you need to do.
For example: clean the house, go to work, homework with the kids, wash the dog, pay the bills.
3. On a scale of 1-10, where one is least important and ten is most important.
Rate the wants and the needs.
4. Grab your weekly calendar.
I’m still a bit old school so I use a paper calendar and an excel spreadsheet. I need to learn to use Google Calendar or something similar. But I like paper. You use what makes you feel comfortable.
Add all the items into your calendar that you rated a 7 or above. That includes your wants and needs.
Where can you fit in that run? Can you delegate the cleaning to your teenager son or husband for once and call a friend instead?
No, that’s not selfish. It’s teaching everyone responsibility.
Then move on to your needs. Where can you fit in all those prickly things that you just have to do.
5. Learn to delegate.
You don’t have to do everything yourself. You shouldn’t. If you have a family, get them to contribute.
My 3-year-old son cleans his room (with a parent watching over), he even likes to help unload the dishwasher and even takeover the vacuum cleaner.
Get your husband to clean the house or make dinner if his hours are better. Stop fretting it’s not going to be up to your standard.
Running a business?
Delegate or outsource all the things that you don’t like doing or seem like time wasters. You want to spend your time doing the things that are going to bring you the most reward.
6. Rinse and repeat.
Each Sunday consider what you want to achieve throughout the week. Goals are important both in your personal and professional life. They keep you accountable and ensure that you’re not living on autopilot and driving yourself mad constantly living out groundhog day.
Make sure to make room in your schedule for the things that are important to you and that includes professional development, your health and fitness, building relationships, quality time with yourself.
By making time for you, slowly you will find your equilibrium. You will find a balance that works for you.
Will you always be balanced?
Life is crazy. You don’t know what’s around the corner.
But that’s ok. You don’t need to know.
As long as you’re making time every week to follow your dreams, invest in your health, fitness and sanity, and fulfil your responsibilities then you’ll be right.
Just remember. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be good enough.