Note: This is a guest post from Angela G. Horn. Mostly mindful.
January was the month to get a balanced life.
Do you remember even that long ago? Moreover, why am I pointing this out when it’s already May?
We are now more than a third of the way through 2023. So we figured now would be the perfect time to see how things are going. Let’s start with a question.
How balanced is your life now?
I mean. There are many things you can do to get ready for the start of the new year. Tidy up, tidy up your inbox, tidy up your admin, and more.
But unlike the example above, balance isn’t like ticking off your to-do list and then moving on with your day. between work, between family, between friends, healthit often feels as if life is a never-ending juggle.
Most of us never reach a point where all areas of our lives are in perfect harmony. that’s ok. You can’t expect to put the same amount of effort into everything.
Depending on what is going on, one area will always need more attention than the other.
Big projects at work require extra time in the office. Self-care becomes a priority when health deteriorates. Families are given priority for small children and elderly parents.
That’s life. things happen. Life will feel like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole if you haven’t built a foundation of balance.
Let’s agree to make 2023 the year nothing happens. I’ll go into the steps to balance it later, but first, let me briefly talk about Stephen Covey’s his four-quadrant timekeeping system.
The Four Quadrants: Where to Focus Your Attention
Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants is a time management concept that helps individuals prioritize their activities based on urgency and importance.This concept is explained in detail in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
The four quadrants are:
- Quadrant 1 (Urgent and Important): Urgent and important activities. These are tasks that need immediate attention, such as emergencies or pressing deadlines.
- Quadrant 2 (not urgent but important): Activities that are important but not urgent. These are tasks that contribute to long-term goals and success, but do not have specific deadlines or immediate results.
- Quadrant 3 (Urgent but not important): Activities that are urgent but not important. These are time-sensitive tasks that don’t contribute much to your long-term goals or success.
- Quadrant 4 (neither urgent nor important): Activities that are neither urgent nor important. These are tasks that don’t contribute to long-term goals and often lead to scrolling social media, watching TV, and wasting time. get stuck in the latest news cycle.
Covey suggests that individuals should focus on Quadrant 2 activities to achieve long-term goals and minimize Quadrant 1 activities through effective planning and organization. Quadrants 3 and 4 activities do not contribute significantly to individual success and should be minimized or eliminated.
5 steps to a more balanced life
The purpose of these five steps is to minimize stress and maximize well-being. By lowering and raising these respectively, you will be able to achieve and maintain a sense of balance in your life. Doing so frees yourself up so you can focus on what’s important.
Implementing the suggestions below won’t make every day perfect Zen, but it’s sure to be a huge improvement over your previous status quo. Goodbye Whack-A-Mole. Hello balance.
1. Understand your best self-care habits
When life gets busy, taking care of yourself is often the first struggle. Between work deadlines, parenting and community activities, find time to you It can be tough.
Leading sustainable health behavioral science researcher Michelle Seeger says one of the most important things we can do is identify the best self-care habits for us. . It keeps us energized, energized and ready to rock.
For her it’s sleep. For her husband it’s exercise. Until I skipped my morning meditation practice three days in a row, I also thought exercise was my thing. It wasn’t very beautiful.
what’s your only thing? Whatever it is, make it a non-negotiable priority in your life. Put it in your calendar and stick to it no matter what. Remember that you cannot take care of others unless you take care of yourself first.
2. Decide which burners to turn off
learned about four burner theory From habit guru James Clear.
Imagine your life represented by a stove with four burners. Each burner symbolizes his one major quadrant of your life.
1. The first burner represents the family
2. The second burner is your friend.
3. The third burner is your health.
4. The fourth burner is your job.
The Four Burner Theory states, “To be successful, you have to turn off one of the burners. And to be truly successful, you have to cut two.”
As James points out, you have two options.
The first is to choose a more balanced life and accept that you cannot reach your full potential in any one quadrant. The second is to give your all in one area at the expense of others.
If you dream of going to the Olympics or launching the next Google, turning off the stove is the way to achieve it. If not, turning one off should suffice.
But how do you decide which ones to turn off?
You need to be clear about what is most important to you. Six months from now, a year from now may be different, but focus on what matters most to you in this moment. Once you understand what it is, you will know which burner to turn off.
When work is paramount, health and family can come next. So friends are out of the question for now. Turning off the burners can be tricky, but your intuition tells you which ones need to cool down for a while.
3. Create a solid system
This is another tip I learned from James Clear. He says we need to focus on building systems rather than setting goals. I’ve always been the type of person who sits in the seat of my pants and jumps around, but since I read the book, Atomic HabitsI am a convert.
I finally understand the importance of building a solid system. No need to think, just think. How does this help? Does being on autopilot kill your creativity?
The opposite is actually true. Avoiding decision fatigue frees up your brain to focus on what’s important. whatever it is for you.
These schemes also act as insurance. I’m not saying you’ll never forget something, but it’s much less likely than in Whack-A-Mole mode.
Write down all the things you need (and want) to do each day. Some are already ingrained, like brushing your teeth or driving to work. The thing we tend to forget is that we need to install the system.
Those systems can be simple. I tend to forget to write down my gratitude journal before I go to bed, so after I make my bed in the morning, I put it on my pillow. Problem solved.
Think about how you can apply this strategy in your own life. For example, do you always wake up late because your kids can’t find their belongings?
Do you always leave things behind? Give everything in your home a place. When I get home, I hang my car keys on the hook behind the door.
Ultimately, the idea is that all of this becomes a rote activity. Once you reach that point, your brain goes on autopilot. The possibility of forgetting something is almost zero.
4. Ask for help when you need it
Asking for help is difficult, especially for us women. Men hate asking directions, but we hate asking almost anything. ridiculous. I mean, why don’t you ask for help when you need it?
Assistance can range from hiring a cleaning service to hiring a babysitter to paying taxes. it doesn’t matter.
The key is to ask for help when you need it. Trying to do everything yourself will drive you crazy. Also, it’s a surefire way to keep your life out of balance all the time.
If you can’t afford to pay for the help you need, you can always barter with friends and family. We all have different skills. You may excel as an administrator, but someone else in your clan may be the maestro of food preparation. Perhaps it would be as simple as agreeing to carpool the kids, and everyone would have at least a few hours of the morning free.
Consider how it works among your close family, friends, and even work colleagues. We are all different, but one thing most of us have in common today is the lack of time. Teamwork makes dreams come true.
5. Breathe, let go, enjoy
No matter how well you plan, no matter how many systems you put in place, things can go wrong. It could be a clogged drain, a bent fender, or a flu attack.
What matters is how you handle these situations. You can argue (and lose) with reality, or you can take a breath and let go of reality. Accept that you are late for the day and do your best.
It’s easy to take life a little too seriously when you’re focused on balancing everything. Remember to set aside some free time to relax and regroup.
Downtime is as much a part of a balanced life as being productive. Go on a trip, get a massage, go to the movies, whatever interests you. You will come back more balanced than when you left.
Final Thoughts on Centering Yourself
Staying less busy can take some effort. We need to get out of the old ways. You have to retrain yourself to put the system in place and operate more efficiently. But getting it right can free up not just time, but mental space to focus more on Covey’s second quadrant.
Even better, you will find life to be more balanced.
Angela lives in Cape Town. She enjoys spending time drinking coffee and writing about hippie adventures in the city. mostly mindful.