balancing act

If there's one thing I get from my mother, aside from my physical appearance, it's that I cannot sit still. Since I was a child, I've been involved in anything and everything that remotely interested me. That is to say, I never do something just to do something, but I do have many varied interests. I like to fill my "free" time with activities and obligations, which leads people to occasionally ask "how do you balance it all?"

To be clear, I honestly don't feeling like I'm balancing all that much in my life. Mostly everything I do is a choice and is something I enjoy! I don't have a crazy work schedule or children to care for or even homework to do- just hobbies I am pursuing. But despite all of that, I do sometimes have a lot on my plate and have learned at least a little bit on how to keep all of the plates spinning. Read on for my tips on how to handle it when you feel like your life is a little bit of a balancing act.

~ Make downtime part of your schedule. How much downtime you need (or will be able to get) varies by person. For example, most weekends I try to leave half of a day with nothing scheduled. During that time, if I feel like doing something (dishes, budgeting, etc.) I will. But, I don't go into it expecting to be productive. That way, if I really need to just zone out and watch TV for a couple hours, I don't feel guilty about not getting anything done.

~ Use small gaps of time. Start taking notice of when you have small pockets of time in your day and take advantage of them, even if it means using them to zone out or daydream. Not every second of your day has to be productive. Take something like your work commute. You can use it to listen to inspiring podcasts, catch up on the news, or call your mom. Or you can put on some quiet, background music and let your mind wander. The key is to be intentional about how you're using these pockets of time.

~ Focus on what you are doing. I find that sometimes when I have a lot on my mind, I get distracted by all the thoughts running through my head. This only serves to stress me out! So I've learned to focus on only what I'm doing at that moment and worry about other things when I have time to address them. Another thing that helps is to write down random thoughts or to-do's that pop into my head, so I don't have to worry about forgetting them.

~ Go for a walk. This is how I solve most problems in my life. When your mind is running a million miles per hour, sometimes you just need a couple of minutes away from whatever it is you're doing. If you can get outside for a short walk, that's even better.

~ Separate "must-do's" from "to-do's". I like to keep a very comprehensive to-do list, but sometimes having every little thing I could or should do on it becomes overwhelming. Instead of taking everything that's not a "must-do" off of the list, you can split it into two sections. One is a list of things that absolutely have to get done that day/week and the other is a list of things that would be nice to get to. You should only focus on the second section once you complete the first section, or if you have a small pocket of time in which you wouldn't be able to complete any must-do's.

~ Go back to basics. Don't spin your wheels making complicated dinners, putting together ultra fashionable outfits, or crafting perfect texts to your friends. If you know you will be short on time for awhile, rely on easy-to-make meals, simple outfits, and other basic habits you can fall back on. 

~ Decide what must go. I wrote here about how being "busy" is often a matter of priority. So if you feel your plate getting too full, you have to prioritize and decide what can drop off. For many people, sleep is the first thing to go, but that's not necessarily the best answer for everyone. For me, I'll take a good night's sleep over writing a blog post (sorry to my faithful readers!). Decide intentionally what you can forgo, rather than just letting the day run it's course and decide for you.

~ In the words of Nike, just do it. Time and time again, I've noted that as humans, we can usually rise to the occasion. Life just happens and whether or not you know how, you just do it! Sometimes I look ahead at my week and think, "I'm honestly not sure how I'm going to make it through." But every time, I just do. And you can (and will) too!

What are your best tips for balancing it all?