5 Tips For Creating A Balanced Life
I don't know about you, but I've learned life can definitely feel like a balancing act.
There's just SO. MANY. THINGS. TO. DO. AND. NOT. ENOUGH. TIME. TO. DO. THEM. ALL.
Well, this year, God has really challenged me to pull back. To create more margin in my life and stop trying to do all the things.
I think a big reason why he is teaching me this lesson, or at least one of the reasons, is because when "I try to do all the things" - see how that sentence started?
It started with "I"
When I'm juggling too many things, for some reason, it becomes about what I CAN DO, and not WHAT GOD CAN DO THROUGH ME.
My schedule gets busier, and it seems the first thing that I push away is God.
Maybe you resonate with this. Or maybe you have a different story entirely, but definitely are feeling that struggle bus of doing too many things at once.
Whatever your story, hopefully these few tips I share with you can be an encouragement to you.
As much as I'm sharing these tips with you, I'm also reminding them for myself.
As we get ever closer to meeting our son this fall, I know that my trying to establish healthy routines and balance now will be absolutely crucial when we're in a season that kind of feels like chaos.
Because if there's one word I hear from every mother to every mother: give yourself more grace.
And I know I won't be able to do that without a heavenly Father reminding me that He's got the ropes, even when I don't.
So originally, this post was going to be how I juggle working a day job and my "side-hustle," as many reference their entrepreneurial businesses, along with being a wife, friend, dog mom and soon to be human mama.
But I realized,
that we all crave balance, no matter what we're juggling.
So whether you're a stay-at-home mom that's wanting to start something new, working full time and dreaming of a starting a business, enjoying climbing the corporate ladder while raising 3 kids, or a college student working full time and just trying to pass all your classes...
I think we all could use a little more balance.
I've learned that whatever season I'm in, it always seems like it's a lot.
And usually the reason it tends to feel like a lot is because, surprise surprise, I'm trying to control the schedule and outcome and results and just everything.
I'm depending a little too much on me, and too little on God.
So I'm excited to share a few tips with you that you'll hopefully be able to implement in your lives and find a little more calm in the chaos.
Ready for it? Let's get to it!
So how do you create a balanced life?
Here's a few tips I've learned over the years:
1. List things out.
We're going to do a little exercise. First, grab a piece of paper and a pen (yes, we're going old school) and find a cozy place to sit for a few minutes. Jot down the following columns:
a) Things that I have to do
b) Things that I want to do
c) Things that I currently do, that I don't have to do
Now put the things in your life under each of these categories. And be honest with yourself.
I know Daniel and I recently had to look at our lives and find the place(s) that we could step away from, because we felt overwhelmed by our commitments. So for us, that meant having to step down from serving at church for a season, because it was one of the areas that we could say no to right now. We prayed about it and felt like God was giving us the "okay" to step down for this season. This wasn't an easy decision or made lightly, but I can already tell a difference (and it's only been a month).
Maybe for you, that's social media (it's a big one that takes up more time than we think). Perhaps you set very specific limits, or go through a cleanse of no social until you can get some of your other priorities in order.
Or maybe you stop saying yes to every opportunity that comes your way, because you want to be known as the dependable one (guilty). Or even saying yes to every social event that can fill your calendar - while they all sound fun, is it worth not having any free evenings to yourself?
Here's a few other questions for you to think on:
- What are the things that are important to you?
- What do you want to happen in your life?
- What are the things that you don't enjoy?
Again, this is a time to just take a look at your life.
Have you always wanted to run a marathon, but never thought you had the time to do so? Well maybe you have more time than you think, and if you prioritize this (see next bullet point) you can actually make it happen!
I promise you won't be upset with prioritizing yourself and your goals from time to time.
I know for me, I absolutely love to read. So in order to make that happen, we try to carve out time on Sunday's to have a Sabbath, where we do things that fill up our cups. For me, that's reading. I'll also try and crawl into bed 30 minutes early, so I can enjoy a few chapters before falling asleep.
Does this always happen? No. But do I do my best to prioritize it as a frequent part of my life? Yes.
2. Prioritize Everything.
So you've created a list with three different areas of your life (have to, want to, don't need to). Once you have your list of things, you can now take a highlighter (or fun, colored marker) and literally highlight the areas that you want to prioritize.
This might seem overwhelming, and maybe you have to do it a few times to figure out what you truly want to prioritize. Because you can't prioritize everything. You can't take a step forward and a step backwards. You have to choose one first, then the other one second.
So look sincerely at your list and figure out what the most important areas are to you.
Maybe you put #1's byour top 5 things, and then #2s on the things that follow, and so on and so forth.
I can't tell you how to prioritize your life. But if you look deeply at your heart, pray about it, and ask someone you love and trust to help you if you're stuck, I can guarantee you'll see the things that matter pop out to you like they're in bold on the paper.
One other thing to note: You have to add in things that you love and enjoy - so don't skimp on these!
Yes, we all have to work. We all had to go at school at some point. We all have people to take care of and responsibilities that are mandatory.
While these can be draining at times, they are a gift! I would first recommend you look at these areas with gratitude - how blessed you are to have a job when so many are still looking, how blessed you are to get to attend school because you are learning new skills and getting a piece of paper that will help you in the world. It's important to look at these with a positive spin, even if it's not the best situation (i.e. I'm not telling you to stay at a horrible job, but I am saying if you find happy things amongst difficult seasons, it will make them more bearable).
But on the flip side, these things can be draining on our character. They often "take" from us (which isn't always a bad thing) so it's important to find areas that "fill" us back up.
This is where I think most people lack.
So I want you to find areas that fill you up, and prioritize these in your life as well.
So for me, this looks like what I already mentioned - prioritizing time in my life to read because it brings me so much joy. I also prioritize my quiet time every morning, like a prioritize making my coffee. I also prioritize working out, because it's something I enjoy and know that it's good for me, so these days (#thirdtrimesterlife) that means prenatal yoga and walks in the evenings.
So I want you to prioritize whatever it is that fills your heart tank, alongside the commitments that you choose to prioritize (work, family, etc.).
I'm talking the kind of things that you literally finish doing and you feel rested and fuller.
Here's a few more examples:
- Prioritize your faith. If you're a christian, I would say this should be your #1 priority. If you have time to make coffee or swing by Starbucks every morning, you have time to get up a little earlier and read your Bible. I'm not trying to guilt trip you, but I am trying to say this
- Prioritize self care. Pampering yourself with a bath or a face mask, going to the spa or getting a massage, working out, doing meal prep so you can eat foods that make you feel well nourished. Go grocery shopping, read a book, or talk a walk outside. Whatever helps you feel more "you."
- Prioritize your marriage/family. This is another one that I think if we were honest with ourselves, we might shock ourselves with how much we don't do this as much as we think we do. I know I'm guilty of it. Guilty of doing something else on my to-do list instead of stopping what I'm going
- Prioritize real friendships. I'm talking actually hanging out with your friends in person - going out for lunch, coffee or inviting them over. It doesn't have to be fancy, it can be a "come chat with me while I fold laundry cause that's the season I'm in" kinda thing.
- Prioritize your health. Again, I mentioned this partially in the self care category, but I think it's important enough to call out on its own. We're only given one body, and I think it's absolutely crucial to make this a priority. You can't pour out from an empty cup.
You get the idea!
Let this be a fun exercise, and maybe even one that's eyes opening for you.
If eating well is something you want to prioritize but cooking isn't, then maybe you sign up for something like Hello Fresh. You can get crafty with your responses and what realistically works for your life.
3. Create a Schedule (Plan it Out).
Okay, now that you have a list of priorities in your life, it's time to actually look at your schedule and figure out how you're going to make it happen.
While it sounds like a nice idea to wake up at 5 am every morning so you can brew a fresh cup of coffee, drink it slowly while doing your quiet time, do a 30 minute workout or yoga session, shower and get ready for the day while also making and having breakfast done and all the lunches for the day by 6:30 a.m. sounds like a good idea in theory, how realistic is it?
Now if that is your goal - darling, you go for it! But I want you to look at your list and figure out how you're actually going to make that happen. Maybe in order to do the above example, that means you're in bed and asleep by 9:30 and you tell your kids they can't get out of bed until 7 (just to give you a few extra minutes, just in case).
Or maybe you wanted to actually have date nights with your hubby - so put those on the calendar right now! Find and book your babysitter or a friend (offer to trade nights) and then plan the evening out. Or let you hubby plan it out.
Whatever it is, I want you to take these dreams and things that you want to prioritize in your life, and actually schedule what they will look like and where they will fit.
Don't skip this step. I mean it. If you skip it then it will be harder to make it happen.
Now I get it, maybe not everything realistically fits into your schedule this week. So I would have a list of your priorities taped to the mirror or the fridge (somewhere you frequent often) so you can constantly be reminded of them.
But don't let "someday" become never, because in all honest, whatever season you're in, there really isn't an "ideal" time.
There will ALWAYS be an excuse, something else demanding your time and attention.
Ready for me to get really real with you (this one might hurt). But you have the time, darling.
Tell me, honestly, how many episodes you've watched on netflix this week. I'm sure there's a way to login to your account and check. I know there is a way to see how much time you spend on your phone and on specific apps (this can be so humbling to look at).
So you have time, darling. It's just a matter of being honest with yourself, choosing your priorities and actually making them happen. #action
4. Commit to Yourself.
Even once it's on the schedule, it's amazing how easy we are to flake out on ourselves and make excuses.
Darling, don't let this happen!
Commit to yourself that you will prioritize your goals/schedule/plans.
Does that mean that it happens every single time you planned for it to? Nope (see the next section on grace). But does that mean when you miss one you say, "Well, I missed it this time so I'm a total failure and I guess I might as well just give up on everything."
No, No, No, no NOOO!!!!
It's not easy to start a habit (the rumor is 21 days to start a habit, but Daniel told me the other day it's actually closer to 72 days). Don't let these numbers daunt you - just try to commit to one day at a time and see what you can accomplish.
Then the next day, commit to yourself and priorities again.
Then the next day, do it again.
Then the next day, do it again. and again. and again.
Slowly but surely, you'll see progress towards your goals. Towards your dreams. Towards the things that you've been wanting to do.
I know you're worth committing to.
You just need to know that you're worth it, too.
5. Give yourself grace and know it's okay to adapt as you go.
So you've heard all of the things to do and why it's important to fight for them. I believe this thoroughly. But I also understand that life happens and you have to adapt as you go.
This blog post isn't meant to be a metric that you beat yourself up against. Give yourself grace to know there are sick days (whether yourself, your spouse or your kids) and that changes things. There might be a death in the family or something else significant that throws you off course for a bit.
That's the beauty of seasons - there's a time for everything (just read Ecclesiastes) and know that even in the worst storm, "This too shall pass."
So if you have a bad day, just call it what it is and know tomorrow is a new one. Or if you can, say, "Okay, this morning didn't go as planned, but I can still work on what's ahead of me the rest of the day and change the outcome of this afternoon/evening."
It's crazy how much a choice in our heads and a firm stance on our attitude can change things. But if it doesn't, don't beat yourself up and let it get to you.
Over slept? Try to go to bed earlier tonight.
Let work overwhelm you? Maybe write out a list of your top threes to accomplish tomorrow.
Missed the workout? Go for a walk tonight and let that be your movement.
You get the idea. It's not an all or nothing game. There's grace to say that when you miss a moment, that the opportunity isn't completely lost.
Well, I hope this blog post was helpful for you! I know that it's been a game changer creating margin in my life and finding time for balance.
Now it's great to talk about things in theory, but I personally find it helpful when I hear some "real life" examples. So I'm going to share with you a few things I've done that's helped me find balance and keep a schedule that makes me feel peaceful.
Here's A Few Things I Do:
1. I prioritize my quiet time in the mornings (and let's be honest, making coffee).
For me, I know I'm going to make coffee every morning, because I'll get a headache otherwise if I don't (excuse, but I claim it). Knowing I'll wake up early to make coffee, then I know I can wake up a little earlier than that to do my quiet time. On rushed mornings, I just need 15 mins for the bare minimum. On mornings I wake up when I plan to (aka not hit snooze on the alarm 7 times) then I can have closer to an hour.
I give myself grace knowing that my schedule and my body (especially in pregnancy) have different needs at different times).
2. I have set work hours and I fight hard to respect them.
I work MWF at Chick-fil-A, from about 8-5. Then on T/TH I do my Rosalynne Love work, usually about 9-6. I try to reserve evenings for cooking and eating dinner with Daniel and taking Jace out for a walk in our neighborhood. Time to water and weed my garden. Or for our weekly Bible Studies.
Week day nights I try hard not work (though this might change once baby is here) because it gives me to time to do other things that I enjoy and not feel guilty about them. My marriage, eating good food and spending time with Jace are priorities. I love my work and there are certainly times where I'll do some work in the evenings, but I don't ever want work to become a priority over the people and things that matter most to me.
3. I try not to check my phone the first or last hours of the day.
Phones are such a hard thing - I get it, I'm definitely addicted to my phone. It's something I'm becoming more and more conscience of, especially as we're about to have a new human enter the world and I don't want his impression of his mom to be, "She was always on her phone." So I'm working towards not checking my phone before lunch, and then putting it away at dinner time. That still would give me about 5 hours that I can access it, which is more than enough time for me to post, schedule, scroll, etc.
4. We reserve weekends for other work, fun and for Sabbath.
Saturdays fluctuate between fun days (hanging out with friends, farmers market, exploring areas around our city, going hiking, etc) and "other work" aka home projects (something Daniel and I both enjoy doing).
Sundays, we try to let be Sabbath days of rest. These are days that are guilt-free doing whatever you want that fills your cup. For me, this is usually gardening or spending a whole day reading a book. I might do a craft or something I enjoy that's out of the ordinary, go grocery shopping and meal prep for the week (believe it or not, these are both things I love to do) or just hang out with Daniel and enjoy long, unrushed married time followed by a nap.
Whatever it is that fills our cup that day, we try to focus on that.
5. I regularly check in with my schedule and what I've committed to.
I have a tendency to be a "yes" girl - I want to do ALL The things and not miss out on anything! However, as I've grown older and learned the need for fewer, but more quality things, I've learned that I need to check in.
There's weeks where I feel like life is too slow, so I tend to book up the next few weeks and then I end up doing too much and getting super stressed out. It's a constant cycle, but I've found that if I'm checking in on our schedule regularly and saying, "Okay, I wanted to do X this week but our schedule is pretty full - so instead of cramming it in, I'll be okay with the fact that next week also works."
That might sound like a pretty simple idea, but it's hard for me. Because in my mind I'm like, "Well, technically I have an hour between X and X time, so I could do this thing and have it done." But I don't take into consideration my capacity or the fact that a resting hour just to catch up on something simple like emails, a workout, etc. would be better than getting one more thing on my to do list done faster.
Does that make sense?
Anyways, I've found that creating a routine around my priorities, committing to them (with grace) has helped me feel more balanced in my life.
Hopefully these tips, ideas and suggestions will do the same for you!
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this post and learned a few helpful tips and tricks on how to create a more balanced life!
I know for me it's something that's constantly a work in progress, but I also know it's something that's worth continuing to fight for.
Do you have any tricks you do to help you feel balanced? I'd love to hear them in the comments below!
By the way, all the photos in this post are sponsored by Lily Jade! They sent me this absolutely beautiful diaper bag (it's called the Shaylee bag by Lily Jade) and y'all, I'm pretty obsessed with it!
I've been using it as my work bag for on the go, or my regular purse. When our little man cub arrives, I'll use it as a diaper bag, too (so basically it'll hold my laptop, purse things and an overload of baby things because #newmomlife).
I've been really impressed with the quality of this bag - it's made with premium, full grade leathers. No two bags are the same because they're legit that real and handcrafted. They use a tumbling method to bring out the texture instead of a "sand and stamp" patter that a lot of other bags use. And even though the Lily Jade bags cost way more to craft than major name brands, they deliver far more value at a price that is truly lower than it should be.
I appreciate the details they put in this bag - even the tassels are double sided leather instead of having one raw unfinished side. The beads are a natural Aventurine stone. This jade like stone is individually crafted and selected specifically for our tassels. Even the interior pockets are trimmed in the same fine leather as the shell of the bag. Even the stitching details and panels add dimension to the bag that shows time and craftsmanship when it was made.
Overall I can tell that this bag is built to last (which I'll be putting to the test with our little man and future babes). There's extra stitching in the critical points of the bag so that it will last through the baby years and all that life will throw our way.
So thank you, Lily Jade, for this lovely bag! Truly so excited to fill it with baby things in the next few months and use it for all the adventures we'll have with our little man.