What is this thing they call “balance”? Seems like everyone is seeking it. Everybody wants to find it. Personally, I think we need to change the definition of balance. Recently I was asked how do I stay so balanced. I laughed because instead of thinking of balance in my life like a simple weights and measures if one side is heavy it goes further down, or light it is up. I think of balance in terms of a carnival ride, like the octopus. Lots of cars, all spinning and moving up and down constantly.
I, as some of you know, I have 6 kids, ranging in age from 10 to 30. The 10 year old is home schooled. I also have two adorable grandchildren. I run my own business as well as the operations for my joint venture (innerOvation) with three other wonderful coaches. As we grow and get more business balance has become a daily act. There are days, occasionally, where things go as planned and I feel successful in the balance of my day. Those days are few. More often than not there are interruptions and changing priorities. Those days feel more like the carnival octopus ride.
So how do we keep balance? How do we arrange babysitting so we can be in Boston for the day, and not get behind in the home-schooling? How do we stay awake long enough to return emails to new prospects? What does balance between work and family really look like?
The absolute best tools I have found to help with this are my ideal week, important few list and focus. My ideal week comes from my days in Finance. I set out times for everything from eating and showers to prep work and meetings on an excel spreadsheet (color coded). It really helps me know how I can fit everything into my week. It also shows me where the best time to be scheduling clients is for me. Now I can’t always schedule the clients there but I can adjust what ever was scheduled in that time to else where in the week.
Focus is also hugely helpful in staying balanced. When I am teaching school I stick to teaching school. My concentrated focus helps the school tasks flow better and get completed sooner. I help myself keep this focus by having a task list available. When something comes up that is not where I am focused right now I write it down in my book. Each day I choose no more than 6 things from the list in the book (my important few) to accomplish today. This allows me to feel the success of completing tasks without the overwhelm of the big list. It also helps to keep me on track as things shift.
The best thing I have learned is to be gentle with myself. I am juggling a lot and some times a ball is going to drop. There will be the kid who goes to school looking totally shabby on picture day. Or the karate test that I can not attend because I am working. Even the agenda that doesn’t get done or has misspelled words on it. The trick is to balance your values and trust that in the big picture you are successful in all of the octopus arms on the ride…just not all at the same time.
If you would like the ideal week tool, please shoot me an email and I will send it out to you!