Balance. How do you find balance within your life?
Lately I have been struggling with how to find balance when each task before me seems to be more important than the previous one. Simply put, I can narrow down the big areas of my life into these categories:
- Family and Friends
- Healthy living
- Sleep, rest, relaxation
- Extra curricular activities
Each one of these categories is important to me, and an important part of living a balanced, fulfilled life. However, when one task, such as the hours and hours of homework (reading, researching, writing) required for the two summer courses I am currently taking, makes it’s presence known in a stronger way than normal, something has to give. When two or more of these items (such as homework, friends visiting from out of town, the need to schedule physical therapy sessions, and the time to plan for summer professional development workshops) become critical at the same time, it gets harder to find a balance. Not only does some area need to suffer a little, but the stress of prioritizing weighs heavy, at least for me. Especially when I enjoy what I do and I want to create a balanced life within each day, week, month and my life.
Here is what I am doing to help myself find and retain the balance that is essential to my physical and mental well being:
1. Time management: I am naturally a list-maker and a woman who lives by an organized calendar, but this has become even more important during this stressful time period. If I know I have X number of hours of homework to get done within a week, I map out exactly how much I need to do each evening to be prepared. My calendar includes tasks from all of the key categories I need to balance. If I don’t schedule time for my workouts, they won’t get done. If I don’t schedule time to plan the professional development workshops, I won’t be prepared to facilitate the important learning journey our entire district is continuing on this summer. I make time management a priority to create the balance I need.
2. Prioritize me: This is not easy for most of us, but it is necessary. I realize that there is value in saying no to optional tasks to avoid needless obligations. More importantly, I have learned that if I don’t take care of myself, I suffer physically and emotionally. I worked too hard to lose weight, get in shape, and transform my lifestyle into something more healthy than I ever thought possible, to ruin it all by stressful, unscheduled moments. Therefore, I never let myself forget that healthy living is an important part of my balancing act!
3. Reflect: The busier I get, the more I want to skip this step, but I’m forcing myself to stop, reflect and jot (through journaling, blogging, or collaborative conversations with friends, colleagues, and classmates). Reflection not only helps me process where I’ve been, but also helps me see more clearly where I need to go. I learn by reading, writing, and talking about my learning. Reflection is a crucial element in my learning journey and to skip it because I am busy would take away quality from the work that I am doing.
What do you do to maintain balance during stressful time periods? How do you prioritize the important tasks, say not to that which can survive without you, and take care of yourself in the process?