Balancing a Lot of Life Spheres
Life is complicated and messy— no one will argue that. Often, it feels like we have to balance dozens of different things, and that can be challenging. Sometimes, we may even feel like we lose ourselves in this balancing act.
So how do you balance life and work? And what about every area of life? Well, let’s talk about some ways to help you do that.
Balancing different areas of life, energy levels, intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, and, well… everything, can be exhausting. As I write this, I’m in between classes, desperately trying to get some work done when I can— so trust me, I know it isn’t easy.
But that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. With planning, thought, and care, you can learn how to live a balanced life— or at least, a more balanced one.
It’s also important to mention that this is easier for some than others. I’ve seen a great analogy before that I’ll borrow now: imagine you have to carry 100 marbles, and so does everyone you know.
Some of you have a bag for your marbles, which makes them easier to carry. Some of the bags might have small holes, so every now and then, a marble slips through. Others have larger holes, losing whole groups of marbles. And some unlucky ones have no bag at all, and have to try to carry everything in their hands.
This is all to say: everyone’s circumstances are different. Maybe you don’t have a good enough bag to carry your marbles, and you need some help making a better one. So without further ado, let’s discuss that!
How it feels to be out of balance
When thinking about how to balance life and work, one of the most important things is being able to recognize when your life is out of balance. Although this can show up in many ways, these can often be a sign:
Exhaustion or burnout
Feeling like you have no control over life
Living on other people’s schedules
Not being able to have time for yourself and what you enjoy
Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list
If you’re feeling any of these, it could be a sign that you’re struggling with balancing multiple areas of life. And that makes sense, because there’s a lot to be balanced!
Many people work, and have to manage that. Some are in school as well. Most people have some sort of responsibilities at home to take care of. And then there’s social life— going out with friends, spending time with others, not to mention romantic ventures.
And what about yourself? Your hobbies and passions? Self-care and mindfulness? Physical and mental health? Making time for fun, relaxation, and passion projects?
Clearly, there’s a lot to consider when thinking about how to find life balance, which is why it can be so difficult to feel balanced. So now, let’s look at some ways to balance life and work, and other life spheres.
First, take stock of your life. It can help to write things out, as a list, map, or in any other form. What are your obligations? Your schedule? The things you want to do?
When thinking about these things, separate them by category— work, school, home, social, personal, health, etc. It can help to see exactly what all of your obligations are, and what things you’d like to do.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is figure out your priorities. Sometimes, feeling out of balance simply means you’re taking on too much, and even if it sucks, you’re going to have to cut some things out.
When creating your priorities, think about the things you absolutely have to do: what is not possible to cut out? For example, you probably aren’t able to quit your job, so fulfilling those responsibilities is important.
But the answer to how to balance life and work doesn’t just mean prioritizing work: also make a list of all of the other activities/life areas that are important to you. You probably shouldn’t fully cut out your social life— that’s important for you to keep.
Once you have this list, you have a starting point for what things are most important for you to keep. From there, you can figure out other areas or activities that might be able to be cut out— or at least pushed back until you have the energy to deal with them.
Figure out what needs more focus
When creating your priorities, you may realize that certain areas of your life have been being neglected. When I arrived at college, I realized that I had been terribly neglecting my social life— and that was having a detrimental effect on me. So I’ve had to work hard to make sure I prioritize that more.
If you notice any areas of your life that are important to you and feel neglected, be sure to make time for them.
Plan and create goals
Once you’re able to look at your priorities and things you want to focus on, making a plan can be incredibly helpful. Balancing multiple areas of life becomes much easier when you have a concrete plan to follow.
Of course, no plan should be set in stone— life is unpredictable, and you should leave time for any surprises or any unexpected opportunities that come up. So even if you have a thorough plan, always make sure to have some wiggle room.
Create plans for how you can get tasks done, create schedules for work or your whole day, give yourself deadlines, etc. Plan in whatever way you think will help you best. The important thing is to have a guide to follow, so you don’t end up lost and overwhelmed.
It can also be useful to create goals for yourself. Maybe “I want to spend at least one hour with friends every day” or “I want to write for 30 minutes every morning”. Whatever form your goals take, make sure they’re achievable and make sense for what you want.
Ask for help
My last tip for those wondering how to balance life and work is this: ask for help. Sometimes, you can’t do everything on your own, and that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.
If you need help figuring out your priorities and setting goals, you might want to talk to someone with experience: a therapist, counselor, life coach, etc.
And if all you want is someone to be near you while you work, or someone to help hold you accountable, you could ask anyone for that. Friends, family, partners, coworkers. Humans aren’t independent creatures, so there’s no shame in asking for help. And the worst thing that can happen is they say no.
Make time for you
As we’ve established, balancing a lot of life spheres is hard, especially in the busy world we’re stuck in. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and scary. Remember to prioritize, make plans, set goals, and ask for help when you need it.
And most importantly, take care of yourself. There’s no point in having a perfect work schedule if you’re mentally drained all the time. Make sure you take time to keep yourself healthy, and you’ll feel more ready to face the challenges life has for you.
Do you have other ideas for how to balance life and work? Questions about anything? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or reach out to us on social media (@llctherapeutic on Twitter and @therapeutichealingjourney on Instagram).