Finding balance in the day-to-day

Posted by on Jul 26, 2013 in Work-life Balance | 12 comments

Ever since I quit my full time job I’ve learned a lot about work-life balance. I work a part-time job, write two blogs, attend Toastmasters, volunteer with my local animal shelter, take care of my pets, my husband, myself, and my home, and live my life. My current schedule is more flexible and yet often harder to find my happy balance.

My situation perfectly shows how balance isn’t the result of some magic number of hours worked versus number of hours at rest. You can’t plan or schedule balance. Balance itself is the result of interacting with each moment as this second flows into the next. Balance is paying attention to the things that matter most, when they matter most.

balancePhoto via Kolette Hall

To keep physical balance you must engage any number of bones and muscles that constantly move, expand and contract; to keep a happy life balance you must engage your body, spirit, heart, and mind, continually adjusting and resting and taking action. There’s no formula for work-life balance, there’s no definitive how-to- balance is found moment to moment.

These past months I’ve learned some things about myself, and some things about finding my balance. I’m not truly happy when I’m not engaged, when I’m not tackling some exciting new challenge. I have more exhilaration and energy when I assign myself tasks and deadlines and work on them even if I think there’s something I’d rather do- like watch TV or compulsively check Facebook and Twitter. I thrive on activity- but not too much, of course!

I’m not truly happy when I’m overstimulated and overworked. I need at least 7 hours of sleep per night- 8 is even better! I have to take a break at least every 3-4 hours, and every day I need some quiet time to myself even when I think I have more important things to do or think I need to finish a task before I can rest. I’m an introvert and I need alone time to rejuvenate and replenish my energy levels.

Too much activity and I go kablooey, too little rest and I go kaflooey! My happy balance is somewhere between activity and rest- I need plenty of both, though they don’t have to be in equal measure. The hardest part in finding my balance is letting go of the “I shoulds” and “I’d rathers” and just live my life, moment-to-moment, day-to-day.

To find balance in the day-to-day I need to exercise my body, mind, and spirit, and spend quiet time in reflection and repose. All of these elements are necessary to stay balanced but the ratio of activity to rest may change each day.

To find balance I must work mindfully and make intentional choices about my day. I do this by deciding what kind of day I’m going to have, and how I’m going to respond, not react, to whatever happens in my day. I do this by minimizing distractions and focusing on the things that are important to me. I do this by listening to my body and my mind, making small adjustments as needed.

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I love your comments! What does balance mean to you? How do you know when you’re unbalanced? How to do find balance in your day-to-day? 

12 Comments

  1. I just spent a week in Chautauqua, NY and was able to enjoy connecting with other people and really thinking about these issues. We are all in a hamster wheel of busyness these days. Everyone has so much to do and is reluctant to step away from whatever they are working on. Taking a break and being intentional about what we our actions is so important.

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Jen!

      I like your analogy of a hamster wheel- it does feel like that much of the time. In the day-to-day we’re often spinning in our wheels, trying to make progress but more often than not just getting through the day- sometimes we all have days like that but hopefully those are few and far between!

      Taking breaks and being intentional works for me, even if I find just a little balance in each day.

      I appreciate you stopping by! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  2. Hey Chrysta,

    I know what you mean about the balance. For the most part I have a very active schedule even though the majority of the day I’m online working.

    I’ve adjusted my schedule since my Mom moved next door so I take a break for lunch and dinner which means I actually get off this computer. I take Kayla out four times a day so those are my breaks and the last time is our evening walk.

    I’ve found that it really helps me balance my day so I’m not just exhausted because I’ll work myself to thin threads if I’m not careful. It’s hard because I love what I do but at the same time I seriously need a break.

    I have to have at least seven hours of sleep each night, eight is perfect for me and I learned this past weekend getting ready for our family reunion that this heat just drains my energy. Of course I was shopping and carrying it all inside then out to the car then back inside then back to the car then back to the house. It literally wore me out and I was useless yesterday.

    We have to learn what works best for us and do something about it. That’s the only way we’ll truly be happy.

    ~Adrienne

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Adrienne!

      I agree! No matter how much you love your work, it’s still important to have balance. Taking regular breaks and getting enough sleep are two great ways to achieve balance and live a better life.

      The heat gets to me, too. I have to watch my activity level carefully when it’s hot or I’ll end up with a useless day. It’s always a balance.

      Thank you for sharing your experience. Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  3. Hey Chrysta,

    I love this post, it really makes you realise how important it is to have a plan and goals, but also to be flexible around it.
    As you say it is essential to focus on the things that are important to you, and make sure you complete those tasks.

    This can be difficult when there are responsibilities to our children, partners and daily duties.
    Our plans need to factor in time for family essentials. Planning breaks, and planning Tasks.
    “Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail”

    I aim to spend one hour on each task and even if I do not complete it,
    I still take a break, Checkout my post on Goals.

    Onwards And Upwards To Success

    Gary

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Gary!

      It’s so easy to get wrapped up in family obligations and overwork ourselves, isn’t it? Yes, family is important, and so are we. Finding balance allows me to take care of myself so I can be there for my family. As you said, planning to take breaks helps me keep that balance- otherwise it’s all too easy to get caught up in whatever’s happening.

      I look forward to reading your post- thanks for sharing your experience!

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  4. Chrysta – I think you’re right, balance is personal. I’ve also stepped back from the 9 – 5 (which was more like the 8:00 – 10:00) and have learned more about my flow, myself and my happy place. Engagement is critical for me too! The best part of being in this place is taking a step back from “corporate life” to shine a light on what balance really feels like now. It’s all about making choices. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Alli!

      It was a surprise to me that I actually find it harder to maintain balance with a more flexible schedule then when I worked a corporate 8-5 job- probably because my days were more structured and now they have more variation. Still, I believe having more flexibility is going to help me have more balance overall- especially when I get the hang of my schedule changing on a day-to-day basis. It feels good to step away from corporate life- it was never a good fit for me!

      Have an amazing day! Thanks for stopping by!

      Chrysta

  5. Hi Chrysta

    For me balance comes and goes. When I am in balance things feel good. We are trying to get focused on a positive endeavor and it has been hit and miss out of the ballpark trying to find what works. It seems we (hubby & me) are on the right track now. So balance will return.

    I have been searching lately for improving health and it has taken me to many websites and I now know what I need to do to work on that issue. So, my websites and studies have taken a back seat on this journey. Not even sure about some of them as to will they survive another year. May be my one will at least I plan on it, but for the others probably not. Cannot juggle everything that I had started out to do. There is a projection at the end of all this “balance” and I just don’t see somethings fitting into the plan.

    Perhaps it is something we have to constantly adjust to fulfill our purpose.

    Mary

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Mary!

      You’ve hit the nail on the head- sometimes we have to let things go to keep physical health and balance in our lives. Just yesterday I was talking with my mentor about the possibility of letting go one of my commitments for the sake of my health as well as being able to really focus my life on what’s important to me. I enjoy this commitment and get value out of it, even, but that doesn’t mean it’s right to keep doing it if it’s not ultimately adding to my overall purpose and well-being.

      I wish you the best of luck pursuing better health and letting go of activities that take away from your purpose and balance instead of adding to them!

      Have a fantastic weekend! Thanks for sharing your experience!

      Chrysta

  6. Great insights Chrysta! This is a constant learning process for me as well. More recently I’ve been differentiating where I commit my time, energy and resources from things that are nice but not in alignment with my ultimate vision/goal and things that allow me to stay in my current. I’ve found that when I’m in alignment I feel excited with possibility despite the presence of uncertainty and expectation. Whereas when I’m out of alignment I literally feel like I’m being pulled in two!! There’s lot of pressure, both internal and external, to try and do it all but it’s not realistic and it only slows you down. Drawing boundaries is key! Love your disciplined approach :)

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Ariana!

      I love your insights about being in alignment- I’m the same way! There’s so much stuff I do that isn’t aligned with what I want in my life and this is exactly when I start to feel unbalanced. I do this stuff because I think I should, or sometimes because I’m just feeling lazy or uninspired, or just out of habit. It doesn’t matter how much I act or how much I rest if I’m not doing the right things- the things that are important to me and refuel my mind, heart, and body.

      I really appreciate you sharing your experience- you’ve opened up new insights for me.

      Have a grateful day! I’ll see you at lunch today!

      Chrysta

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