“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” -Lena Horne
Nowadays we all have a lot on our plate. Our day to day responsibilities can be very overwhelming, and balancing it all can seem downright impossible. I posted the above quote on Instagram earlier this week (you can follow me here: @coachtiko) and I encouraged everyone to consider these questions:
Are you carrying it all alone? Can you share the load? Can you redistribute it by delegating? Can you lighten it by renegotiating your commitments or saying NO? Are you carrying it begrudgingly or with gratitude? Are you carrying an deadweight?
I asked these questions because it’s important to know how to manage your responsibilities in a way that is balanced and supportive, so that you can grow in a sustainable manner. I learned this the hard way when I first started my business. I was working so hard to get my dream off the ground, that I neglected to take care of myself and ended up getting very sick. You can read the rest of my story here.
So, today I wanted to share some tools that I personally use to help me to juggle it all, without sacrificing my well-being. I’m currently a full-time business owner with a full-time contracting gig. My goal is to write two books this year and launch a group coaching program (so excited about it!). I work out regularly, eat healthy, spend quality time with my family and friends and try my best to have a personal life. How do I juggle it all without going crazy?
The very first thing you have to do is know what is a priority and what isn’t. This is very hard for perfectionists, like me, because everything is seemingly a priority. When walking my clients through this exercise, I ask them to make a list of their values. What is important to you? What makes your life feel full? Some examples are: spirituality, health, family, wealth building, service, travel, etc.
Once you’re clear on your values, the next step is to prioritize them. Knowing how your values rank amongst each other will support you in creating an ideal schedule and help you in making better choices in the moment on what to give your attention to. It’s tempting to want to put yourself last here but I want to remind you that you can’t give to others what you don’t have. If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, then you’ve heard the instructions to place your oxygen mask on first THEN assist others. You are your business’ greatest asset, so invest your best in maintaining you!
The final step is to build your schedule in order of priority. In other words, make time for the important things first, then schedule everything else around them. I love to tell the story about the jar of rocks, pebbles, sand, and water. The only way to make it all fit in the jar is to put the rocks in first, then the pebbles, then the sand, and finally the water. Any other order will result in something being left out. And in the case of our schedules, when we don’t prioritize we’re always left with something undone…and that something is often very important!
So maybe you’ll create time to exercise first thing in the morning, meal prep at the beginning of the week, or schedule time with your family in advance to avoid solely filling up your calendar with appointments with clients. Then you can schedule everything else around what’s most important to you. This way, even if you don’t get everything done, you got the most important things done and can still move forward.
When juggling a lot, your time is limited and you can’t afford a lot of distractions. Setting boundaries sets you up for success and allows you to give your full attention to what you’re focusing on at any given time. In order to do this you’ll need to be clear on what your distractions are.
In my e-book, 10 Ways to Get an Extra Hour in Your Day, I give great tips on how you can set boundaries with your clients, social media, email, and more, so that you can get more done, in less time. One of my favorite tips is turning off the email and social media notifications on your phone. This way your attention is not constantly being diverted.
You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you are when you set proper boundaries.
Know your bare minimum
You may have heard the saying that, “You can have it all, just not at the same time.” This is true because we each have only a certain about of time and energy to devote to everything in our lives. Sometimes emergencies or unexpected things will come up that we have to give our attention to while we are still responsible for a ton or other things.
Last year, my grandmother became very ill and I took the opportunity to come home and help take care of her. I initially went into it very naively thinking that I would still be able to maintain the same level of intensity in my business. I quickly saw that I was wrong. My priority was my family, and so I had to figure out my bare minimum with my business. This means asking yourself: What is the bare minimum I need to do to keep this thing going? And, what additional tasks can I delegate to someone else?
Once you know your bare minimum, JUST DO THAT until you’re at a place where you can go back to your normal routine. This is also good for when you get sick, or when you’re simply having a low energy day.
Increase your self-care
The more responsibilities you have, the more self-care you need. Like I said earlier, YOU are your business’ most important asset. And you must invest the best in you. The better you are, the more creative and productive you are.
Self-care is not just about bubble baths and eating your favorite dessert (although it can most certainly be included!). It’s about giving yourself whatever it is you need to be your best. So, if you need 8 hours of sleep, three healthy meals, water, and quiet time every day…give yourself that! Make time for it. Be a fanatic about it. Remember that self-care isn’t something that you have to earn!
I used to tell myself that I would take better care of myself once I “made it.” I thought I didn’t deserve to sleep 8 hours until I’d reached a certain income level in my business. I ate fast food every day because I didn’t want to pull myself away from my computer long enough to go grocery shopping and cook. I really thought I was making a noble sacrifice all in the name of being a business owner and pursuing my dreams.
But what I learned the hard way is, you either make time now or later. You can’t cheat your way out of taking care of yourself. You’re going to pay in some way. And If you’re waiting until you reach you goal, like I was, what if you don’t reach your goal until 5-10 years from now? You can’t just live for one moment in the future. You must enjoy the journey and give your best to the present moment. For, tomorrow is not promised.
So, if you don’t believe me, try it out for a week or two. Give yourself the best level of self-care you can, prioritize yourself first, and see if your productivity, creativity, and overall happiness increases.
Re-evaluate your responsibilities
Sometimes we have a lot on our plate that doesn’t belong there. Maybe there’s an aspect of your business that at one time you really enjoyed, but now not so much. Or maybe you’re working with an organization or on a project that is no longer in alignment with your values. As we grow, sometimes we grow apart from the things we once held dear to us. It’s important to recognize this as it’s happening and lovingly, with integrity, release those things that are no longer supportive of our highest good.
We’ve all been in a position before where we were begrudgingly keeping commitments. While it’s good to keep your commitments, it’s better to release the commitment to someone else who is better aligned for the role. When you do this, you make room for the things that are most important to you. You let go of the deadweight and create space for what’s meant for you to come into your life. It takes a lot more energy to hold on to something that’s not meant for you because it drains you and keeps you from being your best.
So take some time to re-evaluate your responsibilities and renegotiate your commitments, if necessary.
Just Say NO
Now that you’re clear on your values, what’s important to you, and what is/isn’t in alignment with said values, you can now make better choices on what to devote your time and energy to moving forward. Before committing yourself to something, ask yourself “How can committing to this support me in attaining my goals while nurturing my values?” If it doesn’t support you, don’t do it.
Not only do I have perfectionist tendencies, but I also have people-pleasing tendencies. Whenever anyone asks me to do anything, it’s hard for me to say no because I don’t want to let anyone down. So, what I suggest is that when you say no, try your best to offer another suggestion or referral instead.
Another pitfall to avoid is over-committing yourself. This happens when we say yes before really thinking through how much time something is going to require of us. To prevent this from happening, instead of giving an answer in the moment, practice saying, “Thank you for considering me! This sounds exciting! Please let me take a look at my schedule to make sure I can devote the necessary time. Let’s follow up with each other on ______.”
Then, after ensuring it’s in alignment with your values, create an estimate of how much time this will require. If you can make time for it, go for it! If not, say no and offer someone that you know would be ideal for the job.
Juggling it all can be hard, but it can also be done if you do it the right way. I love helping my clients rearrange and lighten their loads so that their day-to-day is more productive and enjoyable. If you need help with this, I’d love to help you, too! Feel free to send me an email here and I’ll get back with you!