What good is it to be successful in your professional life, but have your personal life falling apart? Is it really possible to have it all? I love the steps that Michelle Garrett from Divas with a Purpose shares about how to balance it all.
Balancing it all. A few years ago while facilitating a breakout session for a women’s group I asked for a volunteer to stand in front while we listed off the multitude of roles we all carry – wife, mother, sister, friend, worker, confidante, entrepreneurs, caregivers, volunteer, etc.
With each item listed, I placed a ping pong ball in the hands of my lovely volunteer. Of course, as the list got longer, the pile of ping pong balls got higher until they all began spilling over.
Different people in the group came to help out, pick some up, hold some for the original volunteer, and one person made a cup under her hands to catch any that fell over.
Sometimes the different roles in our lives are just like that. We take on too much (sometimes without even realizing it) and ask for too little help. In worst case scenarios, this can lead to serious health issues and breakdowns. As business owners, we have to do better.
The thing about work-life balance is that many of us have been approaching it as a one-size-fits all solution for fitting all aspects of our life into neat little boxes. The reality is it just does not work that way.
My work-life balance looks different than yours. And that’s okay. Throughout life, your true work-life balance will go through some changes. Rather than attempting to mirror what others appear to be doing, reflect on your current personal and professional situation to determine where your attention and focus needs to be. A simple task to do is to print out weekly calendars with time-blocks. Add in your commitments and block off sacred time for family and self-care. Looking at what you have committed your time to in black and white will give you a snapshot of what your current balance (or lack-of) looks like and help you to begin shifting and rearranging commitments.
Balancing It All Starts With Simple Steps
1 – Ask for help when needed and even when it’s not needed – it’s called delegation.
Take a look at your commitments calendar. If after adding in all of your responsibilities there seems to be no space left for self-care and family time, it is time to look at delegating and eliminating responsibilities. In today’s society, busy-ness is given a badge of honor. An essential question to ask ourselves is if we are being productive with the numerous tasks, activities and commitments we have. Do these commitments reflect our true purpose and focus in life? If not, it may be time to start delegating and eliminating some of them. It is okay to say no or refer requests for your presence to others that are just as competent as you are to handle them. This keeps you from being over-committed, overwhelmed and unproductive.
2 – PRIORITIZE – What things in your life can you cut down on or cut out all together?
Balance may not equate to equality. Many women feel they should be dedicating equal amounts of time to their personal and professional lives. Realistically speaking, that just is not feasible or attainable for most of us. There will be times you must dedicate more time to your work – peak seasons, a large project due or if you work for yourself this could be during the initial start-up of your company. For most the ideal solution is to spend more time dedicated to your family and friends. Keep this in mind when choosing to spend additional time taking on business tasks. This is a very elementary cliché but remember that your business “yes” may mean a personal “no”. It is important to reflect if this is a choice you need and want to make.
3 – Learn how to say “No” and stick to it. “No” is a complete sentence. Embrace it.
4 – Make time for YOU – even if it’s just a 10 minutes a day to just sit and be.
Often when focusing on work-life balance, we think about our careers, our family, our personal and professional commitments, everything and everyone but ourselves. Proper self-care is essential to ensure we stay healthy and whole.
While the “perfect” balance may not be easily attained, the “right-for-you” work-life balance can be with small changes and a commitment to your personal and professional priorities.
Michelle D. Garrett is the founder of Divas With A Purpose, a website that provides tools and resources for women in their personal and professional lives. The owner of The Divatude Collection, a home-based t-shirt business, Michelle is passionate about helping other women tap into their potential as “divapreneurs” and staring their own home-based businesses. She works one-on-one with new female entrepreneurs to plan and implement their personal and professional goals.