This post by Dorie Clark first appeared at Forbes.
Do you constantly feel stressed out? Like there’s not enough time to accomplish everything you need to? Jennifer Tuma-Young has been there. “I was always running and finding ways to fit more and more in, but I was never fulfilled. It was like I was on a wheel,” she recalls. That’s when she decided to become more proactive – and selective – about how she spent her time. “What if we really looked at our time and decided, ‘How do I want to live? What do I want in my life?’” She calls it a ‘day dump,’ in which she and her coaching clients would write down how they’re spending their time, and engage in conscious ‘day design.’ “That level of awareness allows you to make different choices,” she says.
The first step in creating the kind of schedule you want, says Tuma-Young, author of Balance Your Life, Balance the Scale, is understanding your “anchoring system” or core values. She uses the acronym BALANCE to represent it, and encourages clients to “Brain dump and breathe; Assess and accept; Let go and laugh; Add and appreciate; Navigate and find joy in the journey; Confront and connect so you can get to the root issues; and Engage and experience the gift of life.”
Next, it’s important to line up your schedule and your anchors and determine if you’re allocating your time appropriately. “You can say you value this, but your day-timer will tell you what you value,” she says. “Let’s be real with ourselves.”
She’s grappled with these issues herself. “I always said ‘I never have enough time,’ but I was just making myself busy, like going to every networking event with the possibility of meeting someone. [I had to realize] not everything is meant for me; the world seems to be a smorgasbord, but it’s not.” She tries to live out the same values in parenting her young children. “Many kids are in every activity you can imagine, but my kids pick one activity and commit to it fully. If they don’t like it, the next season they can pick another, but they’re not doing more than one in a season because I want them to understand the concept of choice.” That extra time allows her family to volunteer together, an important value she wants to instill. “She seems to love it,” she says of her daughter, “and we don’t feel the stress of running all the time.”
Saying no can be difficult in a go-go society. “It’s making peace with the fear of missing out,” she says. Sometimes that means putting your foot down and setting expectations at work. “I’ve realized the beauty of paring back and have worked with executives to put their Blackberries down and not expect their employees to respond at 9:30 at night. I don’t waver: the best companies force their employees to take down time. It’s not 24-7; you need to find your own balance.”
How do you find balance, at work and at home?
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Learn more about her book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press) and follow her on Twitter.