One topic that comes up a lot when I coach clients is finding a good work-life balance. It’s staggering to hear about how busy our lives have become. Between working, networking, taking care of kids and furry kids, grocery shopping and cooking meals, driving, running errands, cleaning, exercising, managing finances, staying in touch with friends, visiting family, keeping up with current events, taking classes, etc. there is very little space left for mindfulness – reflecting, meditating, praying, or doing anything that will allow you to just BE.
When I first suggest creating space and building in breaks into their days, some of my clients resist at first. “But I am too busy!” they argue. “I don’t have the time.” The irony is that by creating space to take a break and be mindful, we actually become much more productive for the remainder of the day. We become more present. We can think more clearly. We can actually get more done and the quality of our work improves. So what seems like something that takes extra time, actually gives us more time in the long run.
In his article “Why You Need More Margin in Your Life (and How to Get It)” Sean Johnson has some excellent suggestions on how to create space (which he calls “margin”) in your life:
- Pay attention to your energy levels. Some people do their best work in the early morning, some late at night. Notice when you are most productive and structure your day in a way so you do your most important work when you have the energy.
- Get enough sleep. Most people need 6.5 – 8 hours of sleep per night. If you have a baby at home, I know this is challenging. But if you don’t, make sure you take care of yourself and get the sleep you need. It makes a big difference in your productivity.
- Use the 80/20 rule. I first learned this rule when I worked in management consulting and it has proven to be pretty accurate. 80% of your results and effectiveness come from 20% of your efforts. Take a look at your tasks and activities and if they are not greatly moving you forward in your goals, remove them.
- Take an extra 15 minutes. Building in an extra 15 minutes into different parts of your day can give you the space you need. Here are ideas when you can build them in:
- Take 15 minutes in the morning, to stretch, read, meditate (or do another meditative activity), or journal.
- Show up 15 minutes early (to meetings, classes, appointments etc.) to give you time to settle down and feel relaxed.
- Schedule 15 minute breaks at work to take a short walk and clear your mind.
- Schedule 15 minutes before and after meetings to mentally prepare beforehand and for any follow-ups afterwards.
- Limit Social Media. This can be so addictive and lead you down a rabbit hole, so scheduling times when you will check it is really helpful to not let it become a big time sink.
When you are looking at your current schedule, do you feel like you have enough space in your life? If not, what is not giving you much reward that you can remove? What 15 minute opportunities can you add to give yourself more space?