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Jude's avatar

How do you successfully create a balance in your life?

Asked by Jude (32126points) April 5th, 2009

Work, kids, spouse (partner), extended family, friends, social, exercise (health) and taking time for yourself; how do you do it?

The stress and the drama that may come along with these things; how do you manage and keep relatively sane and happy?

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16 Answers

Zen's avatar

It’s not easy, that’s for sure. It’s so different for each person, though. I’m a single dad, and I’m sure it’s different when there are two parents involved.

Jack79's avatar

First of all, look for the “life hack” thread. I know people who spend the whole Sunday tidying up the house, get tired, arrive to work on Monday late and stressed, and never get enough rest.

There was a time when I did 3 jobs, took care of my daughter all by myself, and still had time for friends and hobbies. The trick is to use up as many of the 24 hours in the day as possible. Here’s a crude example.

A typical weekday.
7.00 alarm starts ringing (but you’re too sleepy)
7.30 start getting up
7.50 hastily make breakfast, while trying to brush your teeth
8.13 realise you’re running late, leave everything and grab a toast to eat in the car.
8.22 assuming you didn’t drop the toast in the car or had an accident, you’re happily stuck in traffic.
9.07 Get to work late and have a row with your boss
5.10pm talk to a colleague
5.30 get home
5.45 turn on the telly
8.01 realise you have nothing to eat, go to the supermarket but find it closed
8.34 find a corner store after half an hour driving around, buy things at double price
8.57 start preparing dinner
9.26 eat in front of TV
11.00 realise it’s 11, then start the washing up (including the plates of dry eggs and the coffee stains from breakfast).
11.45 go to bed knackered.
12.00 hopefully fall asleep for 7 hours

Alternative:
7.50 alarm goes off, get up immediately and turn on kettle
7.55 come back from the toilet, make the tea, drink a couple of cups, have some bread and butter whilt it cools down
8.10 drink up, wash up, leave kitchen clean
8.18 go to work
8.48 by starting off only 4 minutes earlier, you actually got there a lot faster, because in your town there’s heavier traffic around 8.45
8.50 walk into work with a smile, taking your time, chatting with your colleagues. Take a breath before work starts. Maybe even a coffee.
5.01 leave work straightaway. No matter what (strict rule of mine)
5.06 stop on the way home and get everything you need (list prepared during lunch break).
5.38 get home, prepare for your 6 o’clock date with your friend.
6–8 two hours to spend with your friend whichever way you like
8.10 get back home, make dinner
8.30 wash up pan while your meal is cooling.
8.40 eat up and also wash that plate.
9–11 another 2 hours to spare
11.00 have a nice relaxing bath, go to bed at 11.40 for 8 hours instead of 7.

Saved 5 hours in the above example out of nowhere. Yes it’s crude, and yes it’s not the same for everyone. It’s just an example. But I find that saving seconds here and there (eg taking the rubbish on my way down anyway, or putting my clothes straight into the washing machine instead of dropping them on the floor) saves enough time to do anything you want. Mutlitasking is also very important. I am writing this while a kid I’m taking care of is playing next to me and I’m waiting for my biscuits to cook in the kitchen next door. Gotta go now :)

Mr_M's avatar

The key in keeping a balance is to keep your work at work.

Judi's avatar

In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey emphasises focusing on things that are “Important and not urgent” and eliminating things that are not important and not urgent and minimizing things that are not important and urgent. To do that you need to know what your goals are, understand your personal “mission,” and schedule time for those things that are personally important and not urgent to you. For some it might be scheduling and prioritizing the gym, for others it might mean allowing yourself and prioritizing time to read a book. You will never know without some sort of self evaluation and really defining your personal priorities and goals.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Some of it is a good scheduling system, planning, and being able to delegate. Being overwhelmed spills over. @Jack79, I look at your schedule with envy. When my children lived at home, My day usually began at 5:00 am, a residual from having to have kids at the bus stop by 6:30 am, because high school and middle school started at 7:20 am. If they missed the bus, I would have to drive 20 minutes each way to get them to school, and that would mess up the whole morning routine. I would get up at 5:00 am so I could have a little time to myself, or in many cases, do laundry, clean up, take the trash out, etc. After the kids were on the bus, I would get myself ready to be at work by 8:00 am. Usually 8:30 was more like it. The kids would come home by bus around 3:00, to an empty house. This is where the juggling came in. In order for them to participate in after school activities, I would have to leave work early to pick them up, or they would not be able to participate on teams, clubs, etc. unless I could get a stay-at-home mom to agree to drive them. At one point, I used a paid children’s taxi service to pick them up. The kids hated that, and hated me, because everyone else’s mom or dad took off from work to pick them up at 4:30. It was all extremely stressful. They would come home hungry, and eat junk. By the time I got home and cooked dinner, they would not be hungry any more. Then we would either start homework, or there would be activities that happened at or after suppertime, or evening school events and programs. Often I would go to the grocery at 11:30 at night because that was the only time I could go.

All of this was because there was no family support infrastructure. My husband traveled for work, and was not interested in picking up the slack when he was in town, because it’s taxing. Not having neighborhood schools was also a problem. In order to participate in activities, kids were car-dependent. The alternative was to have them come home to an empty house, and spend time watching television or playing video games. With that, the chasm between the kids who had access to extracurriculars and those who did not, widened, spawning behavioral issues in the wake of boredom.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Having the scales calibrated every six months.

Jack79's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock this is not my schedule, not even close! lol

It was just a crude example for a single person working 9–5 and never having enough time for anything. Obviously, with children it’s worse.

When my daughter was a baby I had a schedule that even today seems undoable.

9.00 get up, feed baby, make breakfast for wife, have fight with wife
10.00 take baby for walk, talk to people, do shopping, go to bank, run all errands with her in my arms, pram or basket (worse part is that I could not walk at the time so I sometimes had to carry her while on cruches)
12.00 milk time, change baby, cook lunch for wife, fight with wife about how lazy I am and haven’t done anything while she’s so busy watching TV.
13.00 chores around the house while at the same time singing for baby
14.00 put baby to bed, go to job #1
15.00 go to job #2
20.00 come home, feed wife, feed baby, give her bath, play, sing, put her to bed
21.00 go to job #3
0.00 get back, feed baby, fight with wife about how lazy I am, do job #4
3.00 feed baby, do washing up/laundry, chat online
6.00 feed baby, sleep 2.59 mins until 9am

this went on for almost 14 months (even though after a while she’d sleep straight from 2–9am which meant I could catch almost 7 hours of sleep non-stop

ubersiren's avatar

I do what I feel like I need to do at any time. I let nature decide what I need, and it balances nicely. I work until I’m tired. I sleep until I’m not tired anymore. I play until I know there’s work to be done. It does require a bit of planning, though. If I know I have a big day of work or play, I go to bed earlier to rest up. If I know I have a school/work project due, I have some extra fun and rest before I’ll be bogged down. But I just do what I feel like I need to do. That’s just me though. I intentionally do as little (professional) work as possible so that I have time for everything else. That means making sacrifices, like new cars, new clothes, and the Sex in the City lifestyle. But that’s what it means to be balanced. I have everything I need by just letting nature take over and not expecting too much.

*Note: That’s not to say you can’t take a few years to really hone your skills and work on your career then when it pays off, take a grand vacation. OR- take a month to travel west, or far East to adventure and find yourself so you can then concentrate on your relationships and career. Whatever you feel you should be doing can be balanced.

*Tips: No job is so important that you should be drained of sleep and relationships.
No relationship is worth you sacrificing a job opportunity. Nothing is worth losing time for yourself and time to rest.

cwilbur's avatar

Figure out what there is too much of in your life, and aggressively say no to it when you have the chance. Other things will fill the space.

YARNLADY's avatar

For me, it has to do with choosing “time for myself” that actually involves the things you mentions in your details. If it wasn’t for those things, I would feel lost. Those daily interactions with others is my life.

JellyB's avatar

I have yet to figure this one out too.

zephyr826's avatar

My goal is to say no to one more thing each school year. Eventually, I’ll have my life back to a vague balance, at which point, I’m sure I’ll be bored and pick up some new commitment.

qashqai's avatar

Reading those answers is now very clear I live a totally unbalanced life.

FAHAD's avatar

my goal is to live in peace and see athers live in peace too….

YARNLADY's avatar

I make a pledge to myself to be happy every day for the rest of my life, and that seems to take care of it.

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