Times of transition tend to be times of introspection. As the seasons change, it’s common to feel off-balance, spending more time on work than play or on others rather than yourself. Your Ideal Self is, most likely, a person who can spread her energy evenly across the board – finding time to spin, sleep, and everything in between – but how can you find this elusive “balance” in the face of real-life priorities and seemingly restricted time?
If balance is something you find yourself striving for as you enter the busy months of fall, try this exercise. Take out a piece of paper and write down the ten activities that you spend the majority of your time doing. Beside each activity, write down the approximate number of hours per week that you spend on it.
Now, ask yourself a couple careful questions:
-Was it hard to come up with ten things? That might be a sign that one or two things are dominating a lot of your time. If that’s the case, fill up the blank spots with things you wish were on the list and schedule one or two of them into your calendar for the upcoming week.
-Does the majority of your list include doing things with or for other people? That might be a sign that you are not prioritizing yourself at all. If that’s the case, pick up your calendar again, and schedule a chunk of time in the next week when you will be alone. Choose something fun to do. Don’t let anybody else come with you.
-Are you surprised by things not on the list? For example, do you feel like you work out a lot, but exercise didn’t make it to the top ten? That might be a sign that you’re not making as much time as you thought for the activities that matter to you. In the next week, take an hour away from something at the top of your list and give it to something you wish was on the list.
-Do you notice a theme? For example, do all your activities take place indoors? Do half of them require staring at a screen? Are none of them creative? If that’s the case, think about how you can tweak your list into a theme you want to see. Implement one of those changes in the next week.
-Finally, are the hours on your list not adding up? (There’s 168 hours in a week, by the way.) If there’s a surprising amount of time that you can’t account for, that might be a sign that you’re not using time as wisely as you could. Some of those lost hours could be used for activities you thought you didn’t have time to do!
Time is your friend, not your enemy. We’re often guilty of throwing our hands up and exclaiming, “There’s not enough time in the day!” But, once you become hyper-aware of how you’re spending your time, you’ll be surprised not only by the way you can manipulate that time, but also by the minutes and hours that become available to you. And that’s not encouragement to run yourself ragged, but rather encouragement to use your found time in a way that will help you reach for the balance you crave. Clump those found minutes together into an hour when you can go to a spin class, prep your meals for tomorrow, or simply go to bed earlier. You’re on your way to a more balanced life!