Knowing how you spend your time is the first step in reclaiming control of what work-life balance is for you.
As a woman, I find myself wearing many hats: Mom, Wife, Mentor, Business Owner, Friend, Volunteer, Missionary…the list goes on.
People consistently ask me how it is that I do all that I do or make comments relating to how busy I am. My answers usually revert to intentionally being organized or simply nodding and laughing.
I know that I am not the only woman out there with a list like this and have personally struggled with challenges in work-life balance.
Work-life balance for women can seem like we just work, and life fits around it. We often lack the ability to operate from an overflow and end up trying to pour from an empty cup.
What is work-life balance, anyway?
It’s the balance between rest, work, and play.
Rest isn’t just sleeping, it’s sitting by the water, reading, or listening to music. Work is more than what we do to earn a living, it’s cooking, cleaning, driving kids back and forth, it’s the duties we have in caring for the basic needs of others and ourselves. Ladies, getting up and getting ready each morning is WORK, not self-care!
Play is whatever makes you happy, healthy, and energized.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 explains that there is a season for everything in our lives and gives us the okay to take the time to experience them all. It’s part of being a human operating from a place of Grace.
There is no such thing as a perfectly balanced life.
We all require time to work, time to play, and time to rest. At times, things get off-kilter and it’s usually because we have spent too much time at work.
Signs of an unhealthy work-life balance come up in so many ways. At times, it’s our mental health in the form of stress, anxiety, and depression. Then in our physical health through weight change and decreased immunity. At times, even the quality of our relationships with those closest to us suffer.
I’m not perfect at this whole balance thing, there are times I struggle with living a life that feels balanced, but there is a concept that has helped me keep things in a healthy perspective
Truthfully knowing how I spend my time vs. how I should be spending has been really freeing. There is a concept that a friend shared with me that was really overwhelming at first because I was so out of order, I cried when I first sat down and looked at everything that was on my plate.
In spite of that, I was able to take a step back and look at how I was spending my time and was able to start making changes to regain the balance in my life. It takes time-blocking to a new level.
There are 168 hours in a week.
72 hours a week to work
72 hours a week to rest
24 hours a week to play
Let’s talk about rest. We all need to sleep about 8 hours a night, 56 hours of sleep, and then 16 hours to “rest” leftover. I want you to define what rest looks like for you. Make a list.
Let’s Get Intentional
From one self-proclaimed workaholic to another, it’s not sustainable to work every day, so my goal is 12 hours of work six days a week, that’s 72 hours of work. This includes housework, yard work, school work, and work -work.
If there are 24 hours in a day and 12 are dedicated to working and 8 are dedicated to rest, there are 4 hours a day left to rest and play as needed.
Here’s an example of how I plan a week Monday through Friday:
6am: Wake up and spend an hour drinking coffee and reading the Word.
7am-9am: Get the kids ready for school and get myself ready.
9-3pm: 6 Hours of “work- work.”
3-5pm: Kids coming home, sprinkled with continued work, and getting dinner started.
5-7pm: Gym time.
7-9pm: Eat dinner and get ready for bed.
Following a schedule like this M-F gives me 12 hours a day of work, 10 hours of rest, 2 hours of play a day.
Saturday’s flow includes sleeping a good 9 hours and then waking up to spend an hour in our own quiet time. Can you relate to not wanting to conversate until you finish a cup of coffee, or two?
The rest of the day is spent cleaning, grocery shopping, doing laundry, feeding everyone, you get the jest. It’s a good 12 hours of work and somewhere in there we have a football or baseball game which accounts for the two hours of play… but then there’s Sunday.
My 72 hours of work is up, I have 12 hours of play left and 12 hours of rest to enjoy life and start the week as intended, with joy and rest not worried about what tomorrow brings.
Knowing how you spend your time is the first step in regaining control of what work life balance is for you.
Reclaiming Control of Your Schedule
Grab a planner. I prefer The Passion Planner, and start tracking how you are spending your time and where you see deficits. Then allow this knowledge and awareness to empower you to:
Take things off your plate– for me, this was stepping down from a Board of Directors I was serving on.
Ask for help where it makes sense– I started teaching my older sons how to make healthy meals so they could help out when needed.
Choose one thing that you love and try to incorporate it into your schedule a few days a week– I go to yoga or lift weights at least three times a week and try to paddle board a few times a month.
Read. The good stuff that makes you better, not the smut. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry has been one of the best books about balancing work and life. It helped me put things into perspective and slow down to enjoy a little more of what life has to offer.