People are always asking me how I get everything on my to-do list done. How do I find the time to read ? How can I travel while keeping up with my blog? How do I maintain a healthy work life balance? What’s my secret for a balanced lifestyle?
There are many answers, but one of them came to mind this morning as I sipped my morning cup of tea– mindfulness. Being in the present placed my usual monkey mind to rest. Mindfulness freed my mind from the thoughts of an unclear perspective as I concentrated in the here and now.
I no longer had the problem of not enough time and balancing my life with my work; I had the gift of more than enough to do.
Why is this a gift? Consider this. When you are invited to brunch with your best friends. You are served many delicious foods, more than you can possibly sample. From among the offerings, you choose the ones that you want most. What you choose will depend on your needs, desires, and values. Do you want to try something new? Is there a dish you want to make sure to taste again?
Sure, you could approach the brunch in a state of “reality show” drama as a die-hard-diva. You can show a face of frustration because you were invited to a brunch to be forced to eat all the selections of food on display. Clearly, it’s more than you can possibly eat. But why would you adopt that point of view? What would you possibly gain?
As I thought about this notion of having more than enough to do, I knew intuitively that I did not have to write every thought on my to-do-list. I don’t have to eat everything at a brunch buffet either. I also knew that accepting that I could not do it all was part of acknowledging my choice. I’m free to choose what I want to do.
This mindset shift frees your thinking:
- When I notice that I have more than enough, it is natural to ponder on what I want most and why. Asking “what and why” motivates me to set priorities. What would be the most fun? Why do I need to accomplish this task? What would be the most productive?
- When I notice that I have more than enough, it is fine to look for how I can share it. It gives a whole new twist to the notion of delegating work. Who would enjoy helping me with this work? Who would enjoy learning how to do this?
- When I notice that I have more than enough, I allow myself to act from gratitude and to express gratitude through good stewardship. For the sake of what shall I make this choice? What makes the most sense under our current circumstances? What selections support healthy ambition? How can I preserve or conserve opportunities for another person or another day?
I encourage you to become self-aware of the things you have to do. Check your work life balance and emotional climate as it relates to planning either for the day or for a specific project over a period of days. Then notice the physical sensations that correspond to this emotional climate. How does this change if you move towards a positive growth mindset?
Once you have made your way into this different mindset, see what new possibilities show up. What actions flow from your growth mindset?
Choose Your Actions
So many of us rush blindly through our days, fall into bed exhausted, and wake up the next morning to do it all over again. For many of us, our lives are composed of millions of meaningless moments, all strung together – perhaps with a sprinkling of cherished moments. I’m sure you can think of a few cherished moments in your own life. Maybe your marriage, the birth of a child, or perhaps a heartfelt moment of connection with a good friend. These are the moments when we are consumed with joy and awe. At these moments, we are fully being present. We aren’t worrying about tomorrow. We aren’t trying to rush through the experience to get to the next. We are in the now.
But, why do we wait for major events to honor these moments? Why can’t every day be a cherished moment? Every moment – if we decide to make it that way. I stated above that our lives are filled with meaningless moments, but those moments are meaningless only because we don’t value them. We are hurrying along, focused on other things, not stopping to notice them at all. They come and go without so much as an acknowledgement from us.
Cherish the moment
Cherishing the moment means simply choosing to make each moment count. It is a tiny shift in perception that assigns meaning and importance to each moment. It means stopping to notice the beauty and love around us, and within us. It means being fully present in each moment, because only the present moment truly exists. So many of us worry about the future, hold regrets about the past, and completely ignore the present. When we give the now our full attention, even mundane tasks can become important. Nothing can be changed except our perception, but it makes all the difference.
So how do we shift our mindset? What does it mean to stay in the present moment? Let’s use an example: washing dishes. When most of us wash dishes, we hurry through it, often thinking about the other things we need to get done that day (or the next day). Our minds are scattered all over the place, focusing on everything but what we are doing now. Who can blame us? Washing dishes is not the most exciting experience. However, if we choose to make it a cherished experience, we will want to focus on it. We want to take our time and really pay attention to how the water feels on our hands, how the soap cleanses away the grease and grime, and the sense of satisfaction we get as each dish moves from the dirty pile to clean.
Maybe that still doesn’t sound very thrilling. Let’s look at what else is happening. As we give our full attention to washing the dishes, we are not only “doing,” we are being present. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing or not doing in each moment of our lives, it matters only that we become aware of our own state of being. In those moments, we are fully alive and conscious.
By being in the now, you can show kindness to yourself and others. Kindness is a generosity of spirit. It comes to life when we give of ourselves and our time to be of help to others, without expecting anything in return. When you show kindness to somebody you bring out the best in yourself.
Pay attention to the impact your behavior has on others. Notice your own feelings in association to their reactions. Think about how you feel yourself when somebody else shows you kindness. What you give comes back to you in even greater quantity. When you are kind, you not only get an immediate payback in terms of a feel-good factor, but you will also receive kindness from others .
It is so easy to find ways to be kind to others. Say something supportive when you instinctively feel someone needs to hear it. Offer help without being asked for it. Smile and listen without judgement.
Being kind to yourself means getting your needs met. Be gentle with yourself instead of critical when you feel you’re not performing at your best. Forgive yourself when the need arises instead of beating yourself up. When you get into the habit of treating yourself with kindness, it becomes much easier to extend that consideration and behavior to others.
How to balance your work and lifestyle
We all feel a little off balance at times. Maybe we are having difficulty sleeping or we are stressed. Often during these times our life is focused area too much in one or more areas. Dividing our attention between different activities and finding routines helps us to restore balance.
Here are some tips that may help you to restore balance, especially when working from home. With the COVID-19 pandemic, my situation still hasn’t changed. I am still teleworking. Since we are at home, the fine line between work and home life becomes blurred.
So how do you keep a balance between work and “you” time?
Have A Separate Work-Only Space
Whether you are an entrepreneur, or your company allows you to work remotely, you need to have part of your home that is only used for business. A separate room for a home office is the best solution, but if you don’t have the space for that, a dedicated workstation will do just fine.
Make sure that this space is only used for business purposes (this can be important for tax reasons too). If you’re in your living room, make the boundaries clear by keeping the television and radio switched off and avoid the temptation of doing housework in between tasks. Keep work and home life as separate as possible.
Downtime is just as important as work time. You’ll soon suffer from burnout if you don’t ensure that you get some relaxation. Signal the priority you give to your downtime by scheduling it in your calendar. Be clear about your working hours and resist the temptation to peek at your work emails when you’re supposed to be relaxing.
Stick to A Working Week
Weekends are essential – you need time away from work to recharge. Keep to having specific days that are workdays and two days a week when it’s your weekend time. That doesn’t have to be Saturday and Sunday; you can choose which days work best for you and your business but do take a weekend’s worth of time off.
Self-care is vital when you work from home. You might feel tempted to work all hours, but just as you need time to chill, you also need time to exercise, get some pampering, and take care of yourself.
Working from home makes it easier to stick to a healthy, nutritious diet as you’re in control of what food comes into the house. Be sure to take lunch breaks, stay well-hydrated, and get a good night’s sleep.
These techniques may seem too simple to work, but they are actually perfect for helping you change your focus. While you are thinking of good things in your life, it challenges the thoughts that are making you depressed. And by choosing things to look forward to in this day, you notice and appreciate them much better when they come. Happiness does not lie in circumstances as much as it does in our thoughts. There are some who feel lonely even though they are surrounded by loving family, and others who live alone who feel blessed by the love in their lives. Some people have lost so much in their lives, and yet live each day overflowing with joy, because they focus not on what they have lost or don’t have, but rather on what they do have.