Would you say that you’re living a well-balanced life?

There’s always a lot of discussion about achieving a work-life balance and living a well-balanced life, but most people I talk to not only have no idea how to achieve it, but they really don’t know what it is they are trying to achieve!

Balance is quite simply, the distribution of weight enabling one to remain steady and upright.

Think about everything you have going on in your life. Your family, your job, your home, social commitments, exercise, volunteer commitments – the list is endless! And it’s a lot of weight to carry.

There is a limited amount of time each day or each week to do the things we have to do, and the things we want to do. But when we don’t give the things that are truly important to us the time it requires, we disrupt the distribution needed to keep us balanced.

For example, let’s say the things that truly matter to you, the things that make you feel at your best are dinner with your family every night, furthering your career with studies, and spending an hour at the gym three times a week; then these are the things that must be given priority and time made for.

If you’re pulled in other directions such as a really active social life, and a slew of volunteer commitments that have you missing dinner with your kids most nights, you’re going to feel like life is off kilter and out of whack. You’re going to feel like you’re running but not getting anywhere, and your energy drained.

The things that matter the most to you need to be given the time that’s required, in order for you to be balanced. These are your core needs. The distribution of time for these things need to be allocated first.

That means not committing to anything that falls during your family dinner time if that is one of your core needs. It means setting regular times to hit the gym, and protecting that time. It means scheduling your study time first, then filling in what’s left over with social time.

If you allocate the time, and protect it, for the things that are your core needs, you’ll feel better. You’ll feel balanced. You will have a lot more energy, and all of the other things will fit in the time that’s left.

There’s a popular example I love to use in the workshops I give on time management.

Grab a vase or a jar, a handful of golf balls (about 4 or 5), and some sand, enough to fill about half of the container.

The container represents your time each day or week. The golf balls represent the truly important things in your life, your core needs. And the sand represents everything else.

If you put the sand in first, or fill your time with the less important things, you’re not leaving yourself space for the golf balls, the things that really matter.

So put the golf balls in first. Make time for those things that matter, first. Then add the sand. It will fill the space left over.

There are variations of this. I’ve also done this using golf balls to represent the core items, marbles to represent important but not core item, and sand to represent the things we do as downtime, or basically ‘time-wasters’. For some people, it’s how they relax so it’s a part of their lives. And who are we kidding…. with social media as prominent as it is, we all get lost down that rabbit hole periodically!

The point is, know what’s truly important to you to maintain balance in your life, and prioritize them. Place them in your ‘jar of time’ first. Fiercely protect that time as if your life depends on it, because in a way it does.

Then everything else will fall into place where it should.

If you find there are things that don’t actually fit and at the end of the day or week there’s no time left for them, it will be the things that are less important, or not important at all and it’s okay to let some of those go. As long as you make time for the important things, the rest is just sand. And you’ll keep your balance.

I’d love to hear if this technique works for you! Give it a try. Go a step further and label those golf balls, and use a clear container. Make it visually appealing. When it’s all arranged, keep it where you can see it daily as a reminder to put the truly important things first. And call it your balanced life.


Featured photo courtesy of Jared Rice