“Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness or Friends: Pick 3,” is an aptly named article and a paraphrased version of a quote by entrepreneur and author Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Marc Zuckerberg.

This quote resonates with many of us today who are struggling to do it all—and feeling frustrated when we can’t manage to fit everything in.

Family, work, hobbies, and even volunteering: They’re all important and meaningful areas where we’d like to focus! As much as we’d like to though, all-too-often it’s impossible to do everything that we want to. There are simply not enough hours in the day and not enough energy to do it all; while still giving our very best to each task. Attempting to do so will only lead to frustration and eventual burnout.

Balance, then, is important. We need to discover, for ourselves, where our priorities lie; and which areas we want to focus on. For some of us, this involves scaling back on certain hobbies; for others, it may involve putting some items on the back burner in order to focus on other things.

Balance, though, isn’t something that you can find. It’s a constant work in progress—something that you create. We all have many areas of our lives that comprise our days and fill our weeks. Taking the time to evaluate those things—to see which areas we’re neglecting and which areas we’re spending perhaps too much time on—can be a real wakeup call. Consciously allocating time to the areas that are most important to you is a vital step towards taking control of your life.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few ways that you can take charge of your time, balance your priorities, and ensure that the most important things make it to the top of the list!

Evaluate Your Life

First, it’s important to step back and take a bird’s eye view of your life. Take stock of the things that make you happy, and ones that leave you feeling the most fulfilled. For many, there are a number of things that we count as important. For others, it may be easier to narrow it down to just two or three things. No matter how many interests and passions you have, take the time to jot them down. Putting them down on paper will help you visualize all of the elements that you’re working with and, like a puzzle, will help you to arrange them for a balanced end result.

Common elements include:

  • Work
  • Family
  • Social
  • Fun
  • Hobbies
  • Rest
  • Reflection
  • Health
  • Giving Back

All of these things are important and require your time! However, when left unchecked, it’s easy for one area to begin to start eating into your time more than it should be. When this happens, your time is taken away from another area and before long it’s easy for things to become unbalanced. Putting everything down in writing will show you what you’re working with—and allow you to start prioritizing.

Set Goals

Next, it’s time to start setting goals for these areas of your life. What are your goals for your health and your family? And for work? What about your social life? Are you getting enough rest? You’ll want to ensure that you set goals that will help you live a more balanced life—one that’s truly fulfilling. What areas of your life are you unhappy with? Creating goals will help you to know exactly what it is you want from those elements of your life and will make it easier for you to map out your schedule to include those goals.

Plan Your Week

Finally, it’s time to put those goals into action. Break them down into manageable pieces and find ways to balance them throughout your week.

For example, you’ll want to plan out your work schedule. If you’re especially busy, ask yourself if there any areas that you can outsource at home, such as cleaning or maintenance tasks. Maybe it would help to have a couple of quick dinners on hand that you can throw in the oven on some nights—allowing you to spend extra time with your family in the evenings. Find a schedule that works for you, and look for ways to maximize the amount of time that you have to spend on the things that you care about.

If you’ve determined that volunteering is important to you, consider finding a project at school that can also fill the social bucket for you, or a weekend project that you can involve the whole family with. Before you commit, ensure that you can realistically fit this commitment into your schedule. Perhaps you’d like to start with just one day per month?

“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.” – Jana Kingsford

Finally, no matter what your week looks like, or how overwhelmed you feel, there’s one final thing that you must do: Set realistic expectations! We all want to have it all; to excel socially, have a great family, and succeed at work but it’s important to realize that for most of us, we can have it all—just not all at once—and as Zuckerberg says, that’s ok!

“As long as it balances out in the long run, it’s OK if some days you’re very focused on your family, other days you’re very focused on your job, other days you’re very focused on yourself,” she says. “I think it’s OK to be, well, lopsided some days.”

Life is busy, and it’s important to recognize that we don’t have to do it all, all of the time, in order to live a balanced and fulfilled life. As long as you’re able to do the things that are important to you; don’t sweat the small stuff. If you’ve missed out on your workout, hobby, or outing; just find a way to fit it in the next day or later in the week. Above all, be kind to yourself—you’re doing a great job!

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How do you find balance in your life?

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