Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.

Everyone struggles with the balancing act of career, home, and family. Yet, there are ways to manage our lives and find true happiness and contentment in the craziness. This article takes a look at a variety of ways to help you achieve a more balanced life, as well as offers some suggestions for fun family activities that everyone will love. In addition, there are a few resources for you to explore and learn more about ways to achieve the well-lived life we all desire to live.

Build Downtime into Your Schedule

Schedule fun activities scheduled on your calendar. Be productive about scheduling and plan ahead of time. Committing to a night out with friends or a movie with your husband will keep you from letting work get in the way. One good idea is to schedule a family activity every Sunday afternoon such as time at the park or a family bike ride. It might sound crazy to schedule in time for your family, but for many of us, if it’s not on our calendar, it’s easy to let time get away from us and we end up not getting in that quality time that we need. So get out those calendars and start adding some fun activities to your schedule.

Quit Activities that Drain Your Time

Stop wasting time on people and activities that are not enhancing your personal or professional life. Learn to be more productive at work and stop wasting your time doing things like jumping on social media or constantly checking emails throughout the day. Instead, stay focused throughout your workday. Do you have a co-worker who likes to chat with you while you’re trying to work? Find a way to end that situation. The less time we waste doing things that are not beneficial to our professional or personal life, the more time we’ll have to do the things that are.

Set Small But Realistic Goals

You don’t need to make big changes to bring more balance to your life. Set small but realistic goals that will allow you to fit more things that you enjoy into your daily schedule. For example, set a goal to leave work an hour early once a week and take that time to get a manicure, or if you work from home, set aside 15-20 minutes a day to take a quick walk with the dog. Making time for yourself goes a long way to achieving a better work/life balance.

Turn Your Phone Off

While technology has helped our lives in many ways, it has also made us constantly accessible. Phone notifications affect our ability to relax. Being reactive to every update from work makes us feel less in control of our lives. So turn your phone off the next time you’re spending time with family, and make quality time true quality time.

Exercise & Meditate

Not everything we do needs to be about achieving a task. Sometimes, it’s more important we focus on self-care. Exercise is an effective stress reducer, pumping feel-good endorphins throughout our bodies. In addition, meditation activates our parasympathetic nervous system which helps to calm us down. Not just in those moments while we meditate, but practicing meditation regularly will improve the way our bodies respond to stress (our autonomic nervous system) in our day-to-day lives. Start by performing short, meditative exercises such as deep breathing a few times a week, or do a five minute meditation session to begin and end your day.

Focus on One Thing at a Time

When we multi-task we can become overwhelmed. That is because it’s not possible to focus when we’re doing two or more things at the same time. Without focus, we feel off-balance. When you’re working, work. When you’re with your family, focus on them and what you are doing together. Devote your full attention to one thing at a time for better balance.

Learn to Say No

If something doesn’t fit into your schedule or align with your priorities, taking it on will just overwhelm you. Learn to say No. For many of us, saying No can be very difficult. But, if you’re looking for a better work/life balance, learning how to effectively say No is key. Realsimple.com offers 10 guilt-free strategies for saying No in this article: http://bit.ly/1BBSv2k.

Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

We all have natural energy cycles throughout the day. Determine when you feel most productive and focused. Then, instead of trying to push through a low-energy cycle, schedule tasks according to when you’re at your most productive. Save the lower-energy administrative tasks for when you’re in your lull period.

Let Go of the Worry

It appears a big culprit behind an inability to achieve a good work/life balance is worry. We worry about our work. We worry that we will disappoint others. We worry that we can’t keep up with what others are doing, either personally or professionally. Many methods for achieving a better work/life balance include slowing down, meditating, and doing less. “When your brain is in a more relaxed state, it is easier to see new solutions and possibilities.” Take a few minutes today to read the Psychology Today article “Letting Go of Worry” at http://bit.ly/25jrS2J to learn ways we can shift pessimistic thoughts to a more optimistic way of thinking.

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

Start a Family Book Club

One great way to improve your work/life balance, as well as promote an appreciation of reading to your children, is to start a family book club. Choose stories that any age can enjoy such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Jumanji.” Choose one person to read the story out loud each time you “meet” or take turns. Once you’ve finished the book, kick back, relax and watch the movie version (if one exists) together.

Build a Time Capsule

Name a project you can enjoy doing now with your family, then again when they are all grown. A family time capsule!

Start by keeping the silica-gel pack that you get with your next new shoe purchase. Find big stuff such as school work, artwork and notes to your future selves, along with smaller items such as sporting event ticket stubs and a few favorite toys. Pack everything into a sturdy box (including the silica-gel pack to absorb moisture) then store it in a cool, dark place. Avoid including items such as delicate clothing, food, or things that won’t withstand technological advancements such as tapes and discs. Then set a date for the big reveal in 25 years.

Schedule Day Trips and Weekend Excursions

Day trips and weekend getaways are a great way to get in some quality family time and escape from the pressures of the work week. Local parks and libraries sometimes offer some fun adventures, or try and arrange a behind the scenes tour of a local bowling alley or movie theater with the kids. For those in and around Boston, check out some fun day trips and weekend getaway ideas from mommypoppins.com at http://bit.ly/1Rd3fen.

Read

  • The Mayo Clinic takes a look at some of the issues facing many people today in “Work-life balance: Tips to reclaim control.” Read the full article at http://mayocl.in/1QXb3Rk
  • How do you create balance in your professional life?” Hear Edward Fleischman, chairman and CEO of The Execu|Search Group, explain why it’s ok to ignore email on vacation and to leave work at the office over the weekend. Allowing yourself to step away from your professional life is going to make you happier and less stressed out in the long run. Read the full article on Fortune.com at http://for.tn/1TFEGbV.

Think

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the Air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.

But the other four Balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.”

Brian Dyson, former CEO of Coca-Cola

Watch

What’s a life well-lived look like? Watch this 10-minute TEDx talk from Nigel Marsh on why we need to take control of our lives when it comes to work/life balance. “I’ll have a life when I retire.” can not be our mantra. We need to live our lives now. This talk is powerful. Well worth a watch.

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Note: Quotes within article are attributed to Stephen Covey