- Set tangible boundaries. Boundaries can help you associate certain tasks with certain locations and creates rules that makes it easier to have consistency and motivation. For instance, my phone is not allowed in my bedroom. I used to say I’d go to bed early, and then get on my phone in bed and scroll until like midnight (achieving nothing, not going to bed early, and just feeling guilty and bad about myself for not following through on my goal). So, I set a clear boundary — removed the phone charger from the bedroom and put it in the kitchen, and didn’t allow myself to even carry my phone into the bedroom. Phone-free zone of the house. Since then, I sleep like a baby, go to bed earlier, and read in bed rather than scroll. Other ideas for you: email boundaries (ex. no checking email until after you’ve completed your morning routine or no emails after your drive home from work), or setting timers for social media or TV (there are apps to help with this!).
- Utilize natural divides in your day. Your drive, your lunch break, putting kids to bed, finishing dinner, etc are all natural dividers in your day. Break down how many clear ‘divides’ there are in your day, then think about what you’d like to utilize them for. The drive home from work can be great self-care time with an audiobook (so your boundary is: if I’m driving home from work, then I’m listening to a great audiobook), post-dinner can be great family time (boundary: no phone/email after dinner, only quality time with family), lunch break can be great for a walk (boundary: I will eat lunch away from my desk and not return until I’ve gotten 2,000 steps).
- Say no. Let me guess: you’ve heard this before! Saying no is POWERFUL and can help you be more realistic about your day rather than stretched. Practice saying no to at least one commitment you don’t want to do per week. If you don’t have one, try saying no to a task you have on your personal to do list. It’s empowering to say no if it means you’re serving yourself and your balance, and will make you feel great, I promise. Look at your to do list right now, pick one thing on it that doesn’t have to get done, and cross it off. Ahh, doesn’t that feel good? Now you have less on your plate and more time for the things you actually have to do.
- Color code. Whether your to do list/calendar/planner is on paper or on the computer, using colors can help you recognize whether or not your day is balanced. If every day includes every color, you’ve achieved balance. I have 5 colors: work (light blue), side hustle (dark blue), self-care (orange), social/home (green), and my soon-to-be daughter (pink) [in case you haven’t seen, I’m due in June!]. Every week day, I make sure all the colors are there. Take prenatal vitamins/do pregnancy squats/etc are in pink, spin class/time block for an at-home facial/going for a long walk are in orange, dinner with friends/grocery shopping are in green, etc etc. If every color isn’t there, I know in advance my day isn’t balanced.
- Space and time block. Time blocking is popular and great for balance and productivity (work on one task for X amount of time and then break), but for balance I recommend both time and space blocking, ie. never be in one space or on one task for too long. Anyone ever sit at their desk in the morning and all the sudden it’s 4 and you’ve barely moved? You could use space blocking. Set an alarm on your phone to go off every 2 hours, when it does, move to a new space and work on a different task. This is great for balance during the work day, so you’re not just slumped at the same chair all day. Maybe go to an office break room or lounge or nearby coffee shop for some fresh air, go run the stairs at your office building, or even a quick walk around the block. Taking these mental and physical breaks during the day help you feel more balanced overall, since you’re not in the same spot for too long.
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