It’s All About Balance

Who thinks they lead busy lives? Who feels overwhelmed by the demands on their time? I would say most of you said “me”. The sensational advances in technology make communication and everything else in our lives, so much more efficient. The problem is, we think we have to do absolutely EVERYTHING and it all has to be done TODAY! The fact is, it doesn’t.

Remember the good old days when we only had snail mail? Now I’m showing my age. You received a letter by post and in due course, you answered it. Even if you received several a day, this task was do-able. Nowadays with email, we are swamped with bundles of e-books, e-courses, newsletters, personal and business letters, jokes, cartoons, uplifting stories & photos and so on. The input into our lives is astronomical. Because we still hold onto the notion of reading or at least glancing over everything, and responding to everything as soon as possible, it all takes on an urgency that is unreasonable. The telephone is the same. If it rings, I HAVE to answer it, NOW! No you don’t. Turn it off when you need a break and let the answer-phone do it for you – that’s its job. Make sure your message is recorded when you are feeling up-beat, not exhausted and fed-up as it will show in your tone of voice. Even in a school or nursery centre you can put the answer-phone on when appropriate for whatever reason, including taking a five-minute sanity break. You will deal with the call much more effectively when you call back because you’ll be in a better frame of mind.

My husband took the day off work last week to attend to private business. As I mostly work from home I organize my day to suit myself, so I chose to go to the gym first thing in the morning. I told him I was stopping at the café for breakfast after my workout and suggested he join me. He grunted at me that he’d already had breakfast. When I suggested he join me for coffee and a muffin he grumbled that he didn’t have time to have a break. Does this sound like you too? In a bad mood, not valuing yourself enough to even stop for half an hour to have a coffee? I told him that if I waited until I had done everything on my “to do” list before I went out the door, had a meal or went to bed, I’d never leave the house, never eat and never sleep. Instead I recognize that my “to do” list is always unachievable, that is, for any one human being to possibly achieve in any given day, so I take that monkey off my back. I prioritise. If I can achieve the most important or urgent thing on the list, or maybe two or three things, then that’s a huge win for the day. It’s an interesting phenomenon that somehow all the things that have to get done, actually get done. Have you noticed that? And the things that really aren’t that important, or aren’t important enough that you HAVE to do them TODAY, either don’t get done because they weren’t that important after all, or they get done when the time is right. To put ourselves under such absurd pressure that we give ourselves nervous breakdowns and other severe health problems as a result, is just ridiculous.

Make time for the gym or your favorite physical activity, for partners and family, for your friends and colleagues, your hobbies and interests, your social life, and you’ll find yourself so much more productive when you are at work because you have valued you. You are not just a cog in a wheel or a number on a paysheet; you are a vital member of a team. As such, you are no good to God nor man if you are exhausted or playing the role of the martyr. You just become resentful. No-one expects you to go above and beyond the call of duty so stop putting that pressure on yourself. It doesn’t make you a better person. I’m not suggesting you don’t give 100% at work and in all that you do. Quite the contrary. What I am suggesting is that you don’t neglect yourself in the process. Oscar Wilde said “All things in moderation, including moderation.” He was right. There are times when you need to pull out all the stops to get a project completed and there are times when it’s appropriate to do absolutely nothing. For the rest of the time, think balance.

When I finished my workout last week and went to the café for breakfast (my occasional treat), my husband was there enjoying a coffee and reading the paper. His mood was much more relaxed and positive. He’d ridden his bike over to the café so he’d got some bonus exercise, had got to read the paper and have a break, and had had the opportunity to spend some quality time with me which wouldn’t have happened had we stayed at home. At home you notice all the “stuff” that has to be done so there’s no time to talk about bigger picture issues. What’s more important, the “stuff” or you? The “stuff” will always be there. You won’t.

Take time out, get some balance in your life and review your values. Top of the list should be you. Value yourself and you’ll find everything gets done that needs to be done – maybe not by you – learn to delegate. You’ll be much happier which, in turn, will make everyone around you happier, more productive and more co-operative.