How To Mindfully Achieve BalanceWhen it comes to leading a balanced life, I'm a true believer that while this is a very romanticized and idealistic thought in my own personal life, perfect balance is seldom achieved. This would mean I'd have to give equal attention to everything and everyone at all times... and being that circumstances are constantly changing, this might never be the case.
The reality is that we only look for balance because we live in constant pressure. If we learn to live intentionally we immediately take that out of the equation and automatically learn to live in the in-between.
A couple of years ago, I was working 20-hour days both at home and outside of home and doing extra hours, often consisting of 8 hours on a Saturday and 8 on a Sunday. Needless to say, I didn't need to have someone telling me I was going to have a breakdown. I did.
Life and work are sometimes a matter of redefining and reshuffling to me. The same way I rearrange my living room, I rearrange the how, when and where I do things. Focusing too much on balance itself deviates from doing what’s important when it's needed.
I’ve always thought about this subjet with a bit of guilt - that is until I realized there's nothing wrong with shifting my focus and giving my undivided attention to what feels to be the most important thing to me at that time. In order to do that, I needed to learn not only to be very perceptive and aware of the needs of those around me, but also my own needs.
For the most part, this advice will sound like a list of no-brainers but more often than not it’s the simplest, most practical things that we overlook that brings us the highest benefits:
The first shift you need to make is realizing that taking care of yourself is not selfishness – it in fact allows you a sense of readiness when it comes to taking care of things and people other than yourself. There's no point in trying to achieve so much and slide towards a breakdown.
Just as kids need boundaries, we – the infamous breed of workaholics, also need them: carefully planned 8-10 hour work-days with breaks in between and a way to draw a line between work time and personal time are crucial.
I’m not saying you should have it all together but you should strive every day to see your work tools (desktop, laptop, iPad, iPhone) as your "place of work", understanding that if you’re off the clock, you shouldn't even be near those tools. Making a pledge to simple shifts like: Neither will you eat at your desk nor take it with you while I'm on holiday.
Although I find exercise to be of utmost importance in my life, this point has nothing to do with it. It has to do with being stuck in your office for long periods of time.
This little change will make an incredible difference in your life.
I frequently use my office for my design work but once I'm in the replying to emails stage, I move to a different location every day. I set my times and I dedicate myself to that – fully aware of what I’m doing.
These tiny shifts of location can help you, honestly, not to lose your mind.
When a pressing matter consumes your every waking moment or you get sick (as with every other human being), you need to learn to listen what your body is trying to tell you. Be safe that the internet will be OK without you and that you will be OK without it.
If something goes terribly wrong, then you'll have the time to explain yourself, apologize and move on. Of course, I could only get to this point after getting sick and realizing that although I am a very responsible and hardworking person, we all experience misfortune and have our ups and downs.
There’s a time to be productive but there’s also a time to feed our bodies and our souls and the latter shouldn't be at the mercy of how much we are able to get done in a day.
Wrap It Up
At the end of each day, go through all the things in your productivity list. If there are things you didn't manage to do within those 8-10 hours, simply move them to the next day.
Closing off your day means you have already gone through your set work hours and that you need to regroup. Forcing yourself to work further can result in sloppy work and work that you’re not proud of. Don't be ashamed to log out – confident that you did everything you could and enjoy some special time of cell regeneration, otherwise known as sleep.
When you start your days, Do not jump in with both feet too fast. Waking up early and allowing yourself a leeway of 30 minutes to 1 hour can benefit you more and make your mind and home less frantic in the morning.
Easing into your routine is something you can condition yourself to. Maybe even try a few minutes of meditation, sitting in the quiet and stillness of the morning.
After these bits of advice, the most important advice I always give, is to do whatever's best for you and your family. Remember that all of this will one day pass... so treasuring everything in the mix, not only work is important.
Be honest to yourself and to the ones who rely on you. You cannot do everything but you sure can do enough.
How do you maintain balance?
Photography: Ana Degenaar (From my latest roadtrip).