Balancing everything in our lives is incredibly hard. Work, school, friends, significant others, errands, exercise, recreation, all of these things compete for our time and our attention. It’s tricky to balance all of these things, and no one does it right all of the time. However, you may be feeling that lately, things have been less balanced than they should be. If you’re having trouble finding balance between your relationships and everything else, read these seven tips for a more evenly distributed life.

1. Prioritize.

If you haven’t seen that one friend from college in a while and you keep putting him off, maybe it’s time for him to climb to the top of your list. Or maybe you really have to finish that presentation for a meeting tomorrow, so that’s really what you need to work on tonight. Whatever you need to focus on more is what you should put priority on. Write things down, make lists, leave reminders around the house, whatever you need to do to order people and tasks appropriately.

2. Don’t kid yourself.

If you want to hang out with someone but have other, more pressing things to do, recognize that. What you feel and what you need are sometimes different things. Don’t let your emotions guide your behavior too much. Step back and look at things as objectively as you can. Feeling sad about missing out on a hangout with your friends is better than getting in trouble because something wasn’t turned in on time. Likewise, jeopardizing a friendship is not worth getting a task done a little early.

3. Compromise and multitask.

Maybe you can work from home while hanging out with your spouse. It’s often quite easy for people to work on their computers while simultaneously being around others. While this does mean that neither the task nor the relationship is getting as much attention as they would in other circumstances, it’s a good balance to strike between work and play. Doing this too much can cause neglect on both accounts, but every once in a while it can be a life-saver.

4. Don’t feel guilty.

Sometimes, you simply have to say “no.” However much you hate letting others down, feeling guilty won’t do anyone any good. Instead of beating yourself up about it, try offering an alternative or a different time. “I wish I could, but I’m totally swamped at work this week. Can we reschedule for this weekend?”

5. See beyond the present.

Make plans with others. Even if you’re busy right now, you can always plan for tomorrow, this weekend, next month, whenever. Simply having plans with others makes them feel important. It demonstrates to them that you are trying to include them in your life, and that you value the relationship that you share.

6. Expect interruptions.

This goes for both tasks and relationships. You’re not always going to get through an evening with someone without getting interrupted by work. You’re also not always going to get through a day at the office without a personal phone call. Things happen, and it’s ok. Take the interruptions in stride and don’t let them derail your day.

7. Make time for what is important.

Sometimes the only way to have time for something is to make time for it. Cut something else out of your day, put something off, move things around in your schedule, stay up late. If something is important to you or someone else, make sure you listen to your needs (and the needs of other people) and act accordingly. It might take some work to accommodate everything, but with a little effort, you’re sure to get everything balanced.

Featured photo credit: Kristina Alexanderson via flickr.com

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