By Emily Anderson
If you cannot find a work-life balance, then you are doing “life” wrong. It is not a case of having the best scheduling app, or being more disciplined; it is about the fundamental way you run your life. If you are looking for an easy answer, then maybe you are not ready to work on your work-life balance.
Here are a few techniques you can try, and a few things you should consider if you are trying to find a balance between work and life.
Use the “Habit and Routine” Method
This method is used to help teach you how to retake control in your life. Start with a list of five things that you need to do every day. One of them may be a 10-minute Japanese lesson, another may be 15 sit-ups, and so forth. These are things in life that you tell yourself you will do each day.
Get into the habit of doing them every day no matter what. Stephen King writes 10 pages per day no matter if it is Christmas day or his birthday. If you find yourself struggling, then lose something and work with four things per day. Over time, you will notice things about yourself, such as how you get better at Japanese and how you have tighter abdomen muscles.
It seems silly at first, but this method shows your subconscious that you have far more control over your life, and that habit/routine will yield results no matter how little effort you put in. Can somebody really learn the guitar if they only spend 10 minutes per day on it? Ask that same person a year later, and you will be surprised what 10 minutes per day can produce.
Avoid To-Do Lists and Overly Complicated Plans
As Tony Robbins said, “What do you get if you finish your to-do lists? … More to-do lists.” Remember that your problem isn’t about being more organized, it is about how you are running your life as a whole. Your problem isn’t based in logic or higher thought; it is grounded in emotion, on whims, in distraction, in frustration and an almost willful ignorance. Your to-do lists and your overly complicated plans may be making your situation worse.
You may feel as if you do not have enough time for work, and you do not have enough time for life, and such feelings may exist because of your reliance on complicated plans and to-do lists. You are hoisting the responsibility of organization onto your lists/plans rather than dealing with them directly through your own personal grit and fortitude.
Stop Doing the Same Thing Too Often
Never do the same thing too often. If it is your job to clean out your rabbits’ cage every four days, then have alternating schedules where you do it for one time and your spouse does it for the next time. Doing the same thing repeatedly without a break will cause you to form low-level depression where you start to purposefully avoid unrelated tasks for (apparently) no reason. You find yourself with lots to do and only choosing the easiest tasks because you have this form of low-level depression.
We all have to do repetitive tasks, such as driving to work the same way, but occasionally you should be driven, you should take a different route, you should carpool, and you should take the train, simply to mix things up a bit.
Create a Simple Plan the Night Before and Change It In the Morning
If you are having a hard time balancing your work-life situation, then worry and frustration may be the hurdle you are struggling to get over. Create a simple plan before you go to bed so that you are not subconsciously worrying about smaller details like appointment times and places.
The world often changes when we wake up and get a phone call from work, or your kid is taken ill, so you should rewrite your plan in the morning and work with that. Do not make it too complicated, for the reasons mentioned earlier, and do not attach strict time limits because you need to remain flexible enough to stop and change your plan as your day goes by.
Plan for a Headache
Again, your problem is with the way you run your life rather than having anything to do with organizing, motivation, etc. With that in mind, if you are planning to do something tomorrow or in the future, ask yourself if you would still do it with a headache.
Some people are experts at planning things for tomorrow. In their mind, they genuinely feel as if they are going to exercise hard tomorrow, or start their business proposal tomorrow, but they never do.
To help control this form of healthy (but useless) optimism, you need to plan as if you have a headache. Next time you plan for something to do tomorrow, ask yourself if you would still do it with a headache. If you would not, then turn that task into an impulse task and forget about planning for it because your act of planning has become a facet of your procrastination tool set.
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