Busy. When you google busy, the definition that comes up is “having a great deal to do.”
When I ask people how they are, they frequently say “busy.” Busy is a commonly used word. For better or worse, we will be busy forever.
In the beginning of our careers, we will probably be busy working and getting to know our jobs. As you move up in your career, you will be busy. If you start a business, you will be busy. If you get married and have kids, you will be very busy. We will not stop being busy for a long, long time.
How can we begin to better balance out our time so that instead of feeling busy, we feel content and fulfilled?
I have a lot of things going on. But I am always hesitant to say I am busy for a few reasons:
- I worry that when people ask me how I am, and I say busy, I may be over glorifying what I am doing and diminishing what they have going on.
- I chose to do the things I am doing, so if I want less going on, I can make that happen.
- Few people actually care if you are busy. And it will probably make them frustrated if your business interferes with things they need you to do.
While I don’t like to talk about how full my life is, I do recognize that between work, community involvement, and attempting to have a personal life, my schedule is a bit packed. But I have worked to create a balance that allows me to say yes to these things, while also having a good quality of life.
Creating this balance is difficult, and happens on a very personal level. We all have to define what balance means for us, what our priorities are, and how much of ourselves we need to dedicate to each priority.
Here are 5 habits and things I’ve done for myself to create my balance. My hope is that you will find your balance and take care of yourself just as much as you take care of other people.
1. Decide what your one thing is.
Everyone has the one thing that they HAVE to do in a given day or week to feel sane. For me, sadly, it is watching tv or listening to a podcast. I need to just turn my brain off and relax.
For a lot of people it is going to the gym, talking to a parent or meditating. Decide what that one thing is and make time for it daily or weekly.
2. Take at least one night a week and one weekend per month for yourself.
As an extension of my one thing, I try to have at least one night a week and one weekend for myself.
This may look different for everyone, but for me, it means I have no plans. Zero. I can go home after work and sit and watch tv, clean up my apartment, read — whatever I want to do.
For you, it may look different, but try to block off some time that allows you to do something that you want to do. This is a non-negotiable time in your schedule. If someone tries to make plans, it’s crucial that you say “no” — you’re already booked.
3. Be thoughtful about what you say yes to.
I have seen advice that says – say yes to everything. Well, truthfully, that can become overwhelming. If I said yes to everything I was asked to do, I wouldn’t have time to sleep or do my job.
Think about the things you want to do and be a part of, and say yes to those things.
Do not be scared to say no. Saying no can be liberating and allows you to put yourself first, which matters.
But also: Please respect someone else’s right to say no. Most time it doesn’t have anything to do with you, but everything to do with them. Don’t take it personally.
4. Make time for friends and family.
Regardless of how busy you are, try to make time for your friends and family. This adds a lot of joy and fun to my life.
If your family is far away, that may be phone calls to check in. Make sure to be intentional about making time for these things.
5. Create goals and work to stick to them.
Think about what you want your life to be. What are your priorities?
Mine are work (obviously), community involvement, and leadership development. So I prioritize those things and make sure I have time for them.
Decide what matters to you and make sure you say yes to those things and plan around them.
Bonus: Special advice for the single ladies.
As single women, we frequently get left out of the balance conversation, but we shouldn’t be. Just because we don’t have a spouse or children, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be worried about creating balance in our lives.
You are your family. Period.
So make time for the things that matter to you.
Don’t feel bad about leaving work at 5 because you are fried and stressed. Don’t feel bad if you decide to be really productive and stay at work until 8.
Whatever it is that matters to you, own it, and be proud of it. Embrace YOUR life, and don’t feel like you have to change it around because of other people’s opinions.
Balance is hard. There are weeks when I am exhausted and have no time for me, so I am still working through this. But trying is the first step.
Create a calendar that includes work, play, and self-care. All three of those things matter, and your life won’t be complete without any pieces of that pie. Work to create the life that you want and that will keep you happy through the ups and downs that come our way.
What does balance look like for you? What is the one thing you have to do every week?