I admit, I LOVE my to-do list! Most nights before I go to bed I think through what needs to be done the next day (or within the next couple of days) and I either write it out or email myself my list of tasks for the next day. It helps me feel organized and stay on top of the mountain of “stuff” I have to do to keep my house running with some semblance of sanity! I even have a separate list for work that stays on my desk. I break each big project or goal into small tasks and crossing off those tasks as they are completed gives me total joy!
But as much as I love a good to-do list, at times I get too caught up in all I have TO DO, and it can feel like an insurmountable pile of work! And if I get overwhelmed with all that there is to get done I can get paralyzed and actually not get anything done at all!! Can you feel me?
In search of a solution for the overwhelm, I read an article recently about planning breaks. You read that right, like literally making a “break-list” the same way you make a to-do list and when you do the things on your break list cross them off! Sounds easy enough but how can a break list actually help?
Break lists can create more awareness of the things that help you relax and recharge. Just as your to-do list helps you stay on top of the tasks you need to complete, a break list can help you recognize all of the ways you like to relax and recharge. My break list may include things like go for a walk, have coffee with a friend, watch my favorite TV show, go to a yoga class or plan a family vacation. These are all things that help me relax, recharge and be ready to do more! The important thing is making sure your list includes things that help you relax and recharge in a meaningful way so that when you get back to your to-do list you are ready to be productive. Your list should include things that give you an actual break, not that focus on getting stuff done for others.
Break lists create awareness of how you are spending your time. A break list can help you keep track of how often you are (or are not) taking time to relax and recharge. Just like you cross things off of a to-do list, you cross things off of a break list so you can become aware of how often you are taking a break and which activities you are choosing to do. Awareness is actually a super important, and typically overlooked, step to take when you are trying to be more productive and feel more fulfilled. Creating both to-do lists and breaks lists are easy ways to become more aware of how you are spending your time and which activities help you recharge.
Planned breaks help avoid burnout. You can take the awareness you gained form creating a break list and actually start to schedule these breaks into your day. I know when I take the time and purposefully work break time into my day (like a walk or 30 minutes to read) I find myself to be more productive, happy and relaxed throughout my day. Taking some time, even if it’s at the end of the day and it’s only for 10 minutes, to connect with the things and people that help me feel recharged is a gift I give myself (and in all honesty my hubby and kids too because I am much nicer!!)
Try it out and let me know if it works for you!
I recently did a search for articles/blogs/whatever on finding greater life balance as a mom and I came across a ton of strategies for time management, planning ahead, being organized and delegating (including “involving dad and the kids in household duties” because you know that's our job too!). But let’s be real here, these “strategies” may help your life LOOK more balanced, but will you FEEL balanced?
What if we – as busy moms – changed the way we define life balance? What if we stopped trying to fit it all in and instead focused more time on the core things that bring us and our families the most joy?
As a life coach and a mom myself I talk with a lot of mothers. When we talk about life balance we don’t talk about what their schedule looks like but rather what their life feels like. Do they feel out of whack, pulled in a million directions and sometimes lost in the shuffle? Or do they feel happy, fulfilled and like they have meaningful relationships despite the fact that their lives are really, really (sometimes insanely) busy?
For me, life balance does not mean each task gets equal amount of time and attention but rather it’s that feeling that comes from being intentional about what you choose to devote your time to, and ensuring that those things fill your proverbial cup. It does not mean you won’t be busy or that you won’t have days where you feel overwhelmed because you are juggling a lot of balls. But, it does mean that you will have a greater sense of fulfillment in
your life because you intentionally CHOSE which balls to juggle and how many of them you have in the air!
I know what you are thinking, easier said than done, right? I thought that at first too to be honest and it took me a while to embrace this whole notion. But after some practice – and a bit of hindsight – I saw that when I take the time to define my priorities (I’m talking deeper than just “my family is my priority”), am aware (honestly) of the things I do spend my time on, then do the work of drawing boundaries, asking for help and letting go – I feel so much calmer and happier! And to me THAT is balance!
If you are ready to dive a little deeper into this yourself, my guide to Choosing Balance walks you through the self-reflection necessary to help you find balance on your own terms. Sign up to receive your free copy here.
Cheers to living your Life on Purpose,
Hi, I'm Tina! Life Coach, Mom and Lawyer who loves small furry dogs and big glasses of wine and knows that increasing your self awareness and connecting with your purpose can be an interesting (and sometimes challenging) journey. That's why I'm here to help!!