Editor's note: This article was originally published on Anita Fowler's blog, Live Like You Are Rich. It has been republished here with permission.
The vast majority of us have more to do in a day than we can possibly get done. We often have to-do lists that are very long and schedules that are jam packed. Despite us doing so much and working so hard, we often neglect ourselves. Other times we may neglect important things that we value such as our hobbies, projects we want to accomplish, etc.
Sometimes we focus so much time on a few important things each day that after a while we may realize that these few things have monopolized our time and that we haven't made time for other important areas of our lives.
If you were to go to the gym every day and only work out your biceps, your other muscles would not grow or get strengthened. There would be an imbalance in your body and overall strength. In just the same way in our lives, if we focus and work on only one or two aspects, the others get neglected. When we are really strong in one area the others may suffer. As a result, we may get "burned out," feel neglected, become overly stressed, etc.
It is always a good thing to seek for some kind of balance and become more well-rounded in all areas of life that are important to you and your loved ones. This helps your overall well-being, gives you more strength, and ultimately makes life more enjoyable.
I've experienced different times in my life when I was really unbalanced. I was focusing so much on a few things in life, I was failing in many other areas. It took a while, but eventually I began to see - or was forced to see - that my life had become unbalanced.
Recently, I realized this was happening again in my life and I decided to chat with my husband about it. I told him that every day I had an endless list of things to do. And that the list causes me a great amount of stress and anxiety because it is so long that I can never get everything I want to done. Naturally, I also seemed to favor certain tasks over others on a daily basis which left the less important or pressing tasks continually undone.
He told me about a concept he had read about in a time management or business book. The concept is to create short lists. Instead of one long list that I would jot down daily he encouraged me to start creating short lists of the most important things to do and work on them.
I tried this concept and it was helping me. By focusing on only a few tasks things were better " but it wasn't quite working the way that I needed it to. Because I have so many roles, focusing on only a few most important tasks was still not getting the life-balance I desired.
So I took the concept a step further and decided that I would create a short list for each aspect of my life. I would choose one to three things in each important area in my life and work to get them done. I have been incorporating this for a few weeks now and I feel like my life is so much more balanced, productive and enjoyable.
How I do this is to classify my life into eight main roles/areas. Then I put one and two below each one of these items. I prioritize and write the two most important things that I need to do in that category for the day.
For me it looks like this:
Motherhood - Wife - Home Maker - Business Owner - Life Details Manager - Christian - Me - Project: Book 1. 2.
Then I have a long list which I do not categorize and that I keep on the notes on my phone. Throughout the day when I remember something that I have to get done I open up my long list and place it there. I know that it will go on my short list in order of importance in the following days.
It is such a relief to feel like I have all of the different bases in my life covered. I do not feel guilty for working on the book that I'll be releasing soon, or spending too much time doing one thing over the others because I am working on two (sometimes three) things each day in every important aspect of my life.
I also do more than is on the list. Naturally you cannot plan out every minute of every day. I will spend more time with my son and husband than I "plan" to. I may decide to declutter a drawer or write a blog post that I hadn't written down. But I find that putting one to three things on the list in each important area of my life has helped me make sure that necessary things I need to get in each role/life category I have are addressed and accomplished.
For example, the other day my short list looked like this:
- 1. Read 30 minutes to son, 2. Spend time outside together.
- 1. Print off husband's invoices (for his business) 2. Drop off wallet to husband at work
- 1. Do three loads of laundry 2. Make dinner
- 1. Blog Post 2. Answer comments and emails
Home Finances/Details Manager
- 1. Pay certain bills 2. Call for quotes on car insurance
- 1. Take food to a neighbor 2. Read scriptures 3. Say prayers
- Put on makeup 2. Meditate
- 1. Send cover of book to graphic designer for a few revisions 2. Email editor and check on the progress of book edit.
My long list of items has many more things on it that I'll check off and move up to the short list as needed. Some days I only have one item in a category and some days I have three. I try to keep it to one or two though so I can accomplish everything I need to.
Setting up my list like this has been immensely helpful in keeping a balanced lifestyle. So recently I told a friend about it. She said it was such a great idea that I should share it with others, so I decided to share it with you.
Do you think something like this would help you keep a more balanced lifestyle? If not, what do you do to cover all the bases in your life?