Forget work-life balance, try work-life harmony.
The thing I get asked most often is -- how do you do it? Being a single mum who goes to uni and runs a business, people always want to know -- how is it that I can juggle it all and not lose my marbles.
Well, the short answer is, I do lose my marbles sometimes, and it is often the things that I have in my life outside of parenting that help me find them again.
Right now it's 8.30 p.m. and my little girl is asleep. I'm tired and I could go to bed, but I know that I will sleep easier if I feel like I have had an 'outlet'. We all need an outlet, and writing is one of mine.
For me, there is no such thing as work-life balance, because my work and my life are not separate entities that constantly compete for my time, in fact they actually go hand-in-hand. I need the different aspects of my life to work not-so-much in balance, but in harmony with each other.
My child, my relationship, my study, my work, my health and fitness, my social networks, my personal development - all of these things are important to me and they are all linked.
I need to feel healthy so that I can have the energy my child demands of me. My social networks fuel my personal growth which feeds into my work. Studying feeds my mind and fuels the amazing connection I have with my brilliant man. All of these aspects of my life compliment and benefit the others.
I am not perfect and there are times when I am not able to focus on some areas as much as I'd like. There are some things that I do to make sure that I am giving oxygen where it's needed.
Radical self care
When you have a lot to juggle, the most valuable thing in the world is energy. The only way you can have energy is to nourish and move your body. Water, clean eating, small regular meals, fresh air, sunshine, exercise. Without these things my energy levels will inevitably drop, so I know I must prioritize them if I am to get everything else done.
Choose wisely who you spend time with
I don't spend time with anyone who drains my energy or drags me down. I'm an introvert who needs time on my own, or else I start to get edgy and overwhelmed. Throughout my life I have been drawn to narcissistic people who seem to suck the life from me. As I have gotten older I have started to pay attention to how I feel when I am around different energies. I prioritize time with those that enrich me, and maintain boundaries with those that don't.
Remember your values
Any decision I ever make is made based on my innate set of values. I have a clearly defined list of the things that matter most to me in my life, and every thing that I do reflects this. I recently had to make a decision that meant giving up a sum of money, but avoiding a lengthy and emotionally draining battle in the process. Harmony is one of my top values, much more so than justice or fairness. When I reflected on my values, the decision was easy. The same goes for prioritizing how I focus my time and energy. If I am feeling really unhappy, you can bet that I've been living outside of my values and its time for a reset.
Create a system
Planning is a huge one for me. Literally every Sunday night I sit down and reflect on my week, looking at how I'm tracking and planning for the upcoming week. I use a Daily Greatness Journal which makes this very easy and is just beautiful to work with. Each time I do this, I reflect back on my current goals and ensure that I have plotted time for each of them. Juggling so many balls in the air would be impossible if I didn't plan and organize myself well.
Know your cycle
There are four distinct parts to a woman's cycle. The first week is our reflective phase, the time for planning and big picture thinking. Then comes the dynamic phase, which is my time to really smash out my to-do list. Third is the expressive phase, an awesome time for networking and communicating. The fourth week is the creative phase, where emotional stuff can come up so not a time for making big decisions. Since I began to honor my cycle and build my workload around it I am so much more effective.
So that's my top five tips for creating harmony in a hectic life. If you are keen for some support in this area and would like to chat about coaching please do get in touch.
Carlie Maree is a writer, life coach, student and mum. She blogs about all things life and love over at More Than Mum.