Life is busy. I think we all feel that way, don’t we? Maybe you find yourself with way too many things to do and far too few hours in a day. It can be completely overwhelming, maybe even paralyzing. You are so stressed out about how much you have to do that you don’t know where to start. Suddenly, it’s the end of the day, and nothing has gotten done. You wish that you knew how to start living a balanced life, but have no idea how to get there. Sound familiar?
If it does, you’re not alone. I’ve been where you are, and it’s a really difficult place to be. As recently as just a few weeks ago, I found myself at my wit’s end trying to juggle everything. On top of my full time job, I was trying to write a daily blog post (complete with creating graphics and advertising on social media) and start a photography business (by setting up a website, curating social media content, practicing my craft, and advertising). Even now, I have so much to do in all of my projects that it is a little bit daunting! Then, aside from my work and business commitments, I was trying to make sure that my sweet fiancé and my adorable furbabies got plenty of attention, as well. It seemed impossible, and after a few weeks of this, everything was starting to get strained.
But I found a way to juggle everything and start living a balanced life. And you can, too.
Not Enough Hours in a Day
Let’s take a look at a day, shall we? There are 24 hours in a day. My job takes up eight and a half of those hours (including a lunch break, which I usually work through). My daily commute is about an hour, round trip. I cook and eat for probably an hour total, and I estimate that hygiene (showering, etc.) takes me about half an hour. Let’s say that I spend about an hour straightening up the house and cleaning each day. If I get eight hours of sleep (ha!), then I’ve used up 20 of those 24 hours. That only leaves 4 hours for my blog, my photography business, and my family.
A blog post takes me at least two hours, and usually takes more than that. I tracked my hours one week, and I spent nearly 30 hours writing posts, advertising on social media, and researching different topics. There went most of my free time! Now add in a budding photography business where I am spending time practicing, fielding inquiries from potential clients, scheduling sessions, and actually shooting… well, let’s just say that my sleeping time went way down.
It didn’t take me long to realize that this wasn’t going to work. I was lucky to get half an hour each day for quality time with my family for the first week of 2017, and that simply isn’t acceptable to me. My family is number one in my life, and they deserve to have more of my time than that. But how did I make time for them without giving up my new ventures?
The Art of Compromise
The number one thing that contributed to my learning to juggle everything I was trying to do is compromise. And, let me tell you, as hard as it can be to compromise with other people, it’s harder still to compromise with yourself. You always want to think that you can figure out a way to do everything. Sometimes, though, that simply isn’t realistic. Such was the case with me.
For me, compromising meant writing three or four new blog posts per week instead of seven. It also meant some compromise for Cole, too – instead of cooking together, Cole now cooks the majority of our dinners while I write. I am spending less time on advertising during the week. Now I wait until Cole is at work on Saturday to dedicate a block of my time to sharing my most recent posts across different channels. I find that it is easier to do all of my advertising at one time as opposed to spreading it throughout the week.
We’ve made photography practice sessions into a family event. Cole is learning how to use a camera so that he can contribute to my growing photography business as a second shooter for weddings and other major events. Every weekend, we take the dogs out and use them (and each other) as practice subjects, which turns into quite a fun little outing! And we get some wonderful pictures, too.
How You Can Start Living a Balanced Life
If you are struggling to balance everything going on in your life, I recommend making a list of what you have going on. Rank the things you have to do as the highest priority, and then prioritize the things you want to do according to your particular needs. My list would look something like this:
- Work (Working is a requirement, as it is how we pay our bills.)
- Sleep (Sleep is a requirement, or I will probably murder someone due – I get grumpy when I don’t sleep.)
- Family (Cole and our furbabies are the most important thing to me, but unfortunately I can’t spend all of my time with them due to the reasons above.)
- Photography (As this is a business that I hope will by my major financial means of contribution to our family one day, this comes next.)
- Blog (This is something important to me, but it is not as important as everything else on this list.)
Then, assign hour amounts that you have to or want to spend for each thing. Here’s my plan for each day during the week:
- 9.5 hours – Work & Commute
- 7 hours – Sleep
- 0.5 hours – Hygeine
- 1 hour – Cleaning
- 3 hours – Family
- 2 hours – Photography
- 1 hour – Blog
Group some of your more time consuming tasks and plan to do those on the weekend. For example, I break my social media advertising into groups based on platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) and try to do one at a time. I try to do most of my advertising on Saturday, as I mentioned earlier, so that I don’t have out try and spread it throughout the week. Make use of lists and check things off as you go!
Figure out what you’re doing that you don’t need. Compromise with yourself – sometimes your ideals won’t match up with your reality, and that’s okay! Don’t feel guilty when you have to cut back on something. Ask your significant other for help, if you can. Take a deep breath. You can do this. Make a plan, and stick to it.
If I can do it, so can you.