Keeping balance is something that I’m struggling with at the moment. This post doesn’t just apply to work life balance, but anything in life where something is out of kilter and is having an impact on everything else. For me, that’s because I’m putting a lot of effort into one part of my life, which means that I’m not getting everything done that makes me feel happy and like I’m accomplishing something. This is very basic for me, like being able to prepare healthy food myself so I don’t eat junk, get some exercise and spend some time with friends and family. I don’t have any children or other responsibilities to mix into the equation and at times like this, I wonder how other people manage to keep so many plates spinning at once.
There are some things that I find can help me to keep things on track. At the moment, a few of these things have slipped, but this is how I normally try to keep things in order.
Meal planning doesn’t mean that I eat everything exactly as I’ve planned it whether I feel like it or not. But it does mean that I do all my food thinking in one go (usually at the weekend), I make sure I have all the food I need for the week and I can switch my brain to auto pilot the rest of the time. I really struggle to think about what I want to eat when I get in from a long or tiring day. All that ‘PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA’ chanting makes it really difficult to think straight. If I have my little list written down, I can pick something off it and know I have everything to make it. I can also usually get myself to spend a 20 minutes preparing for the next day’s lunch so I don’t have cheese, ham and mayo baguettes every day (true story). I try to have healthy convenient snacks in the house as well so if I’m travelling around, I can grab some for my handbag and then won’t buy a KitKat and some toffee waffles when I’m hungry on a train. You may have noticed from this that I have pretty shocking self restraint when I’m hungry.
Equally, doing meal prep at the weekend prompts a bit of exercise planning too. Knowing when I’m due to exercise and making sure I have all my workout clothes ready gives me fewer excuses. This is especially important for early morning workouts when I need to roll out of bed, fall into my workout clothes and get out the door easily. At that point my brain is usually saying ‘but you feel a bit tired, you should get some more sleep. You could be dangerously tired. Stop and get back into bed, this exercise malarky could be DANGEROUS’. Being in control of what I’m eating has a big psychological benefit for me as well as the physical benefits of feeling better if I’m not eating rubbish all day every day. Plus, I cook far more interesting food if I actually think about it in advance.
Sometimes I think I can organise myself to within an inch of my life (which isn’t always a good thing). I seem to be able to sustain this professionally, but I’m less likely to do this at home. My house gets messy and time seems to get away from me, so I suddenly realise at 10pm that I had that really important job to do and now I’m too tired. I try to keep my planner with me all the time so if I’m out and remember something I really have to do that night, I can write it down before I get distracted.
I also try to be proactive and get annoying things done straight away. This might be something like calling my phone company or changing my car insurance. I am pretty epic at putting these things off for ages, until I’ve created a menacing looking Mount Annoyingtasks that seems unsurmountable. If I reach that point then it feels like I’m clawing my way back to being organised. Little and often is key here.
Make more plans!
If I make plans to spend time with my friends and family I am generally very reliable. Short of violent illness or transport breakdown, I can be relied upon to be there. Making plans a little while in advance means I will stick to them and spend time seeing the people that I really want to see. Sometimes it can feel like having an extra few hours to sort things out (tackle Mount Annoyingtasks) would help the world feel a little lighter, but really spending time with the people I enjoy seeing is what will actually make me feel happier and more balanced. I’m not known for being impromptu so making plans even a few weeks makes sure I stick to them.
I hope this post might help me to kick start some of the good habits that have fallen by the wayside recently. But, ultimately I think that sometimes I beat myself up more than I should when it happens. Really, it’s that when I’m organised, I feel happier and calmer, which is even more necessary when other things in life go a bit crazy. I’d love to hear what other people do to stay organised too!