Living a Balanced Life

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges most of us face is knowing how to live a balanced life within a 24-hour day. To do so requires some discipline.

Between our employment, learning to improve our skills, inundation from the media, the attraction of the Internet including e-mail and blogs, so many good books to read, wanting to get enough sleep, maintaining social relationships, and the list goes on and on, balancing life is a challenge. How do we do it? It is no wonder that seminars on time management, books on simplification, and even garage and even closet organizers for all the “stuff” we accumulate are selling so well.

One way to become more effective is to evaluate how we use our time. You may have additional items to add to the following list: (1) Prioritizing, (2) Time for oneself, (3) Waiting in line, (4) Shopping, (5) Using a calendar, (6) Being aware of procedures—or the lack of them.

Following are some tips that may assist in increasing your effectiveness:

(1) Begin each day with a list. Prioritize it. The beauty of priorities is that you get to select what’s important and when you want to work on them.

(2) Set your alarm clock thirty minutes earlier than usual. Do the math and see how much extra time it gives you. How you use the extra time is your decision.

(3.) Wait productively. No one likes to wait; yet everyone must at times. Rather than being surprised by it, plan for it. Always have a magazine, book, or a note pad with you. When waiting on the phone, have some key thoughts written down to review.

(4.) Evaluate your possessions at least once a year. Some of the items in your file cabinet, desk drawers, or computer hard drive may not have been looked at for years. The often heard, “less is more” is applicable here. The less you possess, the freer you are.

(5) Make your calendar essential in your planning. Protect your personal time by reserving it on your calendar. Identify what’s important to you and put it on your calendar. Your family belongs on your calendar. Your vacations, exercise, reading, and hobbies belong there, too. Your calendar will keep you headed in the right direction and minimize distractions and temptations.

(6) Most of what you do involves a procedure. You have one when you first get up in the morning and, if you will notice, you use procedures and routines throughout your day. The adage applies here: “First we make our habits, and then our habits make us.” You may be engaging in some of your daily routines by force of habit. Just for one day, be conscious of every thing you do. You may find that one of your procedures is counterproductive. For example, if you are a writer, checking your e-mail first thing in the morning may deprive you of a higher priority. If the morning is your most productive time, change your routine. Block out one hour for writing first; then as a break, check your e-mail.

You will find yourself feeling much more in control and more productive if you are aware of your habits.It may help to remember that being busy is not synonymous with being successful.