Do you ever feel like this girl here? Overwhelmed? Stressed? Trying to juggle too much? Trying to meet too many needs? Having difficulty balancing it all?
The good news is that you are not alone. I feel that way. I have friends who feel that way. It’s hard trying to find the right balance between focusing on work, kids, spouse, friends, yourself. It’s a lot.
A friend of mine, Rebecca, asked that I address this topic on the Music Therapy Maven. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ll share ideas that work for me. I hope you find something that you can use…and hope more that you share what works for you in the comments below!
- Nurture your relationships. Your relationships with your spouse, children, family, and friends are the most important things in your life. Period. End of story. You need to spend time on your relationships. If you have kids, this is time spent reading, coloring, and riding bicycles (can you tell I have a two year old?). If you have a spouse or significant other, it’s time talking over a glass of wine, going out on a “date,” or going to a concert together. It’s having a picnic, watching a movie, or going out to eat with family and friends. Investing in your relationships should always have priority in your life. It’s amazing how a little quality time with loved ones will re-charge your emotional battery and get you ready to work.
- Budget your time. I look at my schedule every morning and map out how I am going to use my time. Being specific about how I plan to spend my time helps me avoid wasting unnecessary time and energy. For example–my schedule yesterday: 5:45am wake-up; 6:00-7:00am workout; 7:00am-12:00pm get the kids and myself dressed, fed (breakfast and snack), showered, do dishes and laundry, spend 45 min writing 1 blog post while kids played; 12:00-5:00pm nanny’s here, during which I spend 1 hour on email, 30 min on social media, 45 min prepping for autism resource fair, 45 min on new email newsletter list, 1 hour on blog post, 1 hour on free ebook; 5:00-5:30pm prep kids to leave the house (yes, it takes that long); 5:30-6:00pm drop off brochures with music therapist and meet husband at marching band practice; 6:00-8:30pm autism resource fair; 8:30pm go home, get kids in bed, relax and unwind with husband. It took me longer to write out my schedule in this article than it did to plan it out. I find that planning my time in this way greatly improves my productivity.
- Be selfish. Earlier this year I was a guest on The Music Therapy Show with Janice Harris. The original topic was secondary trauma, but our interview morphed into a talk about the importance of self-care. Although I go more in depth in this article, I want to highlight one point–there are things you need to be selfish about. You have special, sacred rituals that are yours and that keep you grounded. It may be your workout. It may be reading 1 hour every day. It may be sipping a cappuccino every morning at your local coffee shop. Whatever your ritual, hold on to it and don’t give it up.
- Get (and stay) organized. I firmly believe that being organized makes life easier. This means getting your bookkeeping organized, your computer desktop, your client files, your children’s medical records, your grocery list, your planner, your phone list, your Christmas card list, your email, your procedures, etc. It is beyond the scope of this article to go into detail on how to get organized. There are books and articles galore on that subject (some people create whole careers in the area!). I suggest listening to the Get-It-Done-Guys Quick & Dirty Tips to Work Less and Do More. He has some great suggestions on how to organize your life.
- Batch your tasks. This is related to budgeting your time. There are certain mundane tasks that are best done in batches. These tasks include: email, phone calls, and social media. Start delegating a certain amount of time during the day where you take care of all those tasks. I typically spend an hour each day on email. It is a much more productive use of my time than checking my email 5 times a day. Same with phone calls. I have a running list of phone calls that need to be made and spend about 30 minutes a day making all those calls. Plus, unless I am expecting a call (or it’s my husband), I rarely answer the phone. The caller leaves a message, then I return the call during my designated time (this has the added advantage of buying me time to prepare any information the caller needs).
- Get Others To Do It. “Outsourcing” has many connotations and is generally a taboo word these days. I don’t understand why because we all do it. Outsourcing simply means that someone else does a task for you. We outsource our mail service. We outsource our trash collection. We often even outsource bagging our groceries. The beauty of outsourcing a task is that it frees you to spend time on more important tasks. There are many daily living tasks you can outsource: lawn mowing, house cleaning, grocery buying, bookkeeping, taxes, and drycleaning pick-up come to mind. And here’s the best part–you only need to outsource what you want to outsource. I enjoy grocery shopping, so won’t be outsourcing that anytime soon. But house cleaning? Not my favorite, so we have a service that does a thorough cleaning once a month and we do maintenance cleaning in between visits. Now look at your life: what are some areas you can afford to outsource that will free up time for more important matters?
So those are some of my suggestions based on techniques that work for me. But I am not alone in this struggle to find balance! If you have anything to add, please leave a comment below.
I am working on a free ebook that goes more in depth on many of these points, plus offers other suggestions on how to do more in less time. To receive your advance copy (available in a couple of weeks!), sign up here: