In order to find balance, everybody should devote a certain amount of time to a certain number of things. If you work 80 hours every week, then come home and neglect your wife and children, you’re doing it wrong. Likewise, if you devote your weekends to sitting on the couch and watching football until the sun goes down, you aren’t filling your cup with anything of substance.
There are philosophies about finding happiness through anything from tiny homes to positive affirmation (I’ve even listened to some podcasts before big meetings that tell you to say things out loud like “people respect what you have to say; your words are meaningful.” All I could think of was that SNL skit where Stewart and Michael Jordan tell themselves, “gosh darn it, people like me!”).
I am the kind of person who understands something best if it is broken down in front of me. There are things in our lives that change week by week, but if we break it down, we find that our lives can be summed into six core areas: Sleep, Work, Family, Hobbies, Exercise and Religion/Meditation.
Each area requires a different focus and a different amount of effort. Sleep, while requiring the least amount of effort, should be made a priority if you are devoting too much time to another area. If you put more effort into one area and forget another, you will suffer in all areas. For instance, if you are training for a marathon and neglecting sleep in order to keep up with work and maintaining something of a family life, you will suffer across the board. Below is a basic breakdown of how much time in a given week you should devote to each area.
- 30% Sleep
- 25% Work
- 20% Family
- 15% Hobby
- 5% Exercise
- 5% Religion/Meditation
Now, everybody works differently, and it’s up to you to determine how to adjust the above list in order to work for your life, but if you stray too far from one area for too long, you will not be performing at your best. Life balance requires a certain amount from each area, and maximizing each area will allow you to excel in all aspects of your life.
With that in mind, here are five ways to create balance in your life.
Make Sleep a Priority
Force yourself to get seven hours of sleep every night. One of my best friends is one of those guys that stays up until 3:00 a.m. He is also someone who can’t get up in the morning, can’t find the drive to move up in his company because he’s exhausted all the time. (It also wouldn’t be a bad thing to leave the phone on the dresser when you go to bed).
Purge Unnecessary Things from your Life
It’s a natural tendency for humans to hoard things. Sometimes, we can’t control ourselves and end up on A&E. We assign value and meaning to meaningless things. We save birthday cards in drawers, or shove more hangers into closets that are full of clothes we barely wear. If you need an excuse, donate things to Good Will or the Salvation Army. Unneccasary things aren’t always physical things, either. Get rid of cable if you can’t make yourself get off the couch on Saturdays. Whatever it is that you don’t need, consider how important they really are to your overall well being and make a hard decision.
A healthy diet gives you more energy during the day, and allows your body to properly shut down at night. A healthy body allows you to operate at 100% at your job, with your family, and gives you better focus when it comes to meditating or exercising. If you don’t have the self control to cook food on a Wednesday instead of ordering a pizza (again!), then you are enabling yourself to short change yourself in all aspects of your life. Practice some discipline, make a game plan, and make it a priority to make the kitchen the most important room in the house.
Break your Routine
It seems counterintuitive to think that you can find balance by breaking your routine, but by doing things a little bit differently, you will find yourself paying more attention to those things you do over and over when you come back to them. Breaking your routine can be anything from trying a new recipe to going on a vacation to somewhere you’ve never been. Introduce “new” into your life and allow yourself to experience something in a different light.
Learn new Things
Learn new things to teach your kids. Learn new things in the bedroom. Learn new things at work to make yourself a bigger asset (hello, job security). Whatever the reason, learning new things is something you can do across the board to keep things fresh and interesting, and allow yourself to always be improving.
Balance is something that allows us to always be at our best. If you find yourself to be overly stressed at work, unable to lose weight, fed up with whatever your family life is, or just in a rut and you aren’t sure how to make left from right, challenge yourself to adopt balance in your life. Remind yourself what it is you want and understand that the best way to get that isn’t to run a million miles per hour at it, but to focus on the end goals and make the necessary steps toward them.