Simple Hacks For A More Balanced Life
I believe the real answer to the question, “What do you want?” for everyone is, “To be happy.” And I also think this is true for everyone: a balanced life is key to feeling happy. Some people think they want power, so all they do is work, and spend time with work associates. Then they get that power and learn they aren’t happy. Why? Because their life wasn’t balanced. They only have the power, and nobody to share it with (at least nobody they really love). Some people think they just want the perfect body, and they get it, but they too are a bit lonely and feel they’ve missed out. They were always in the gym. They could never go out for pizza with everyone. Goals are good, but they should be the pillars that make up a structure: not the whole structure. If that makes sense. Your loved ones are the floors and walls. Your spirituality is the roof. If you just work on one aspect of a structure, it will eventually crumble. It certainly won’t provide shelter or comfort. Here are small hacks to have a more balanced life.
Call loved ones during chores
When you’re folding laundry or cleaning dishes, put some headphones on and call a loved one. You don’t need to use your brain to dust surfaces. This is a great 20 to 45-minute period when you’re free to catch up with an old friend or family member.
Listen to podcasts or novels on your drive
Feel like you never get to take in entertaining or enriching media? Why not listen to a podcast or a book on tape while you’re driving? If you live in a commuter city, that’s probably a substantial chunk of your day. You won’t feel like you’re missing out on that great book everybody is talking about.
Take friends to work events
Ask for a plus one to the office party of networking event and bring a good friend. Find a friend who’d find the lecture you’re attending interesting. If you have a hotel room for an out of town convention, grab a friend, make it a girls’ weekend: she can be a tourist during the day while you work and you can have fun at night.
Bring your work somewhere beautiful
Can you work remotely? If so, then find new, beautiful places to work away from your home desk. A hotel rooftop bar. A botanical garden. A cute new coffee shop. You can feel immersed in the world rather than isolated while you work.
Plan a work trip
Is there a way to combine work with travel? If it’s truly a work trip, you can write off the airfare, hotel, and meals in your taxes. If there’s an enriching conference to attend in a city you’ve always wanted to visit, go!
Do essential tasks first
This is a big one: every day, there are things you absolutely must get done that day, and things that it would be nice to get done. If you do the things that would be nice to get done first, you may be stuck still working on the essential items late at night. Do the essential tasks first thing, and only the non-essentials if you can still do them at a reasonable hour.
Keep a whiteboard
Sometimes we don’t quite realize how much time we dedicate to each sector of our lives every day. Keep a whiteboard with these three columns (feel free to add more but this is a good start): work, personal, admin. Admin is stuff like, getting a teeth cleaning or renewing your driver’s license. Try to mark off an even number of items from each one, every day.
Get fit with friends
You probably have several friends who want to stay in shape and feel they’re missing out on social time. Form a power-walking group with them. You can meet at new, pretty locations to walk and talk every week.
Take one day a month to yourself
Have a day dedicated to yourself every month. During social days, you probably have to amend your activities a bit to what everyone else wants to do. Not today. Today, you take yourself on a date to the restaurant or movie that just you want to go to. Taking a day to be selfish helps you be giving on all the others.
Map in some fun
If you’ll be doing some running around today, pull up a map of your city, and take a look at your destinations. Is there anything fun you’d want to do near that chore or that business lunch? Maybe a friend you never see lives on that side of town: ask if you can stop by. Maybe there is a museum you’ve always wanted to visit over there: pop in.
Make socializing a standing appointment
Maybe you can get a monthly game night going with your closest group of friends or a potluck. I’m sure everyone is craving some more social time. Trying to coordinate schedules is hard. But if you dedicate time to it—if you all decide that on the third Friday of each month you have a potluck—you can start blocking that time off for each other. No need to email back and forth about schedules every time you want to hang out.
Meditate every day
If nothing else, meditation lets you disconnect from everything for a few minutes. Do you ever feel like your brain has just been on for days…or weeks…or years? Consciousness is exhausting. Meditating just lets you pause and get away from it all. If you don’t have time to do anything else on this list, meditate for five minutes a day to feel less crazed.
Mix work and your passion
Think of ways to mix work and your passion. Is there some way to work with the types of companies about which you’re passionate? Or non-profits that you care about? Is there training, mentoring, or speaking you can do there? You don’t have to completely separate your work and your passions/interests.
Don’t forget that you can delegate. There is probably always an opportunity to delegate, if you think about it. If you’re at work, there are interns and assistants. If you’re at home, you have your partner or your roommate. You don’t have to take on everything yourself.
Give everything an extra 5
Schedule out your day, then add an extra five minutes for each thing. You know you’ll need it. And then, you won’t feel that panicked sensation of running late all day: you planned for that extra time.