Like many of you, I have a very full and busy schedule with professional and personal commitments, projects, and activities.
I am passionate about achieving all my life goals and even though my professional priorities are extremely demanding I go out of my way to make time for personal commitments like exercising and spending time with my wife and kids.
Trying to manage everything is often an emotional rollercoaster. Sometimes it feels overwhelming like I have too much to do and I am not able to get it all covered. Whilst at other times, even when the load is extremely full, I feel that I am completely on top of it with time to spare.
But, no matter how I feel during the rollercoaster ride I seem to always somehow manage to get everything done in a timely and workable manner. Some things seem to go smoothly from the start while other things tend to squeak, push and kick all the way to the end. However, I don’t recall the last time I failed to achieve a significant personal or professional project, deadline or milestone.
When it comes to managing the balance between our professional and personal life there seem to be two dynamics occurring simultaneously. One is the actual events and activities that take place. The other is all the internal self-commentary and self-criticism that accompanies these activities. We often get these two things tangled and confused. Especially when we have a lot on our plate.
For example, my goal is to exercise five times a week, when I am not on the road. I try to keep that routine religiously in order to stay in shape. However, there often seem to be good reasons why I don’t have the time to do it. My internal commentary often sounds like: “Today is not a good day for exercising”, “You are going to miss your deadline if you exercise today”, and “You don’t feel like it anyway”.
When I buy into these considerations and put off my exercising, I always feel frustrated and dissatisfied.
The good news is that I have learned that there is no actual correlation between my internal noise and commentary about what I can or can’t do, and how much I actually get done. In other words, no matter how insistent my internal chatter is, and how convincing its argument is that if I exercise I will miss my other commitments, in reality, most of the time that is simply not the case at all!
As a result, I no longer give credence to the internal commentary. I just let it go on and I go ahead and do what I planned and promised myself to do anyway.
I have learned to trust that if I stay true to my commitments in all areas, and just do what I say, no matter how I feel, I will always manage to get everything done and I feel gratified at the end. 95% of the time that is exactly what happens. In the other 5%, I typically end up renegotiating the deadline or in some instances working longer hours to pull it off on time. But, the long hours routine doesn’t happen often, and things seem to always have a way of working out in the end.
Unfortunately, most people buy into their internal considerations and excuses far too often and quickly. As a result, they stop short of pursuing, carrying out or achieving their objectives. And, most of us also put our professional priorities before our personal ones, so when we are under pressure we tend to sell out on our personal things first.
If you want to manage your life balance more powerfully, here are a few practical tips from my personal experience that could be of help:
- Be clear about your personal and professional long-term and short-term commitments and objectives.
The more you occupy your consciousness with, and focus your intention on your dreams, commitments and goals the less space there will be for noises and excuses.
- Schedule clear activities associated with fulfilling your commitments and goals in your calendar.
Bring your commitments and goals to life by turning them to clear actions and practices that populate your calendar. For example, schedule time for writing the proposal, reading the report, returning calls. Schedule a specific time for exercising three times a week, date night with your spouse, quality time with kids, etc.
- Keep to your schedule, no matter what.
Relate to all commitments as equal. Don’t cancel your exercise or time with your kids because of workload or because you are afraid these will interfere with or jeopardize your success at work.
- Say no to others who want to double book things with you in timeslots that are already allocated to other personal or professional commitments.
Be courteous and responsible about it and offer alternative times for conflicting activities. However, don’t sell out on personal commitments and priorities because of professional ones.
Obviously, things are never perfect. At times you will need to be flexible and innovative, including perhaps rescheduling things or working longer hours to get everything done. However, if you take a stand for having it all, and you manage your schedule with the relentless commitment to never sacrifice or sell out on anything important. And, if you make sure that all your professional and personal commitments are equally accounted for, you will find that the noise has less and less influence over your actions. As a result, your ability to have a well-balanced professional and personal life will keep growing.
Try it and see how it works…