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7 Ways To Stay Balanced And Happy Even When You’re Extremely Busy

7 Ways To Stay Balanced And Happy Even When You’re Extremely Busy

People are living busier and busier lives these days, taking on more and more with every passing month‒more work commitments, relationship commitments, family commitments, social commitments, the list goes on… therefore staying happy and relatively balanced seems a task of Sisyphus (the man in mythology who rolled a boulder up a mountain every day only for it to roll back down to the bottom at the end of the day), i.e. impossible.

Is it impossible to be balanced and happy when you’ve got a hell of a workload? No. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tricky tightrope act to master, but don’t worry‒plenty of people have their own ways for achieving everything they need to do and still have time for everything they want to do in life. This is the art of life-balance. Here are just seven of the best tips that I heartily recommend if you’re stuck looking for how to keep your balance and be happy at the same time..

1. Check your necessary needs.

Let’s get down to basics–if you want to stay balanced and happy, you need to make sure all of your basic needs are being met. Anyone who has ever pulled an all-nighter finishing up work or a project can tell you that while the sense of accomplishment remains, you physically feel a wreck and you can barely keep your eyes open unless you have an intravenous drip of coffee somewhere about your position.

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You should make sure you get enough sleep every night, that your diet has plenty of healthy, balanced food, and that your work is not completely taking over your life to the point of exhaustion, both physically and mentally, and you should make sure that even when you’re busy, you stay balanced by making sure your basic human needs are being met.

2. Plan ahead as much as you can.

One way to ensure that you have everything under control, minimizing the chances for missing something and throwing your busy day off course, is to plan everything you possibly can. People can plan things however they want–there are plenty of to-do list and organization apps on every kind of smartphone platform possible, or a good old pen and paper works well too (I use both).

I mean, it’s impossible to control everything, but in the end, making sure you have a list of everything you need to do, obtain, and achieve by the end of the day will make sure that going about your day, no matter how busy, will give you a reminder of everything that not only you need to complete, but what you have already successful achieved.

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3. Stay fed and stay hydrated.

This all seems like such basic stuff, but one way to make sure you stay happy and balanced throughout every instance of being busy is to keep up a solid eating and drinking routine. That’s not to say you should only stick to the same thing day in, day out, or even that you shouldn’t indulge on a daily basis (in fact: go for it, but in moderation); rather, I am simply proposing making sure you have three decent meals a day.

This is for the generation of people–myself included–who see something hot from Starbucks as a nutritious breakfast; coffee may motivate you for a little while, but then you’ll crash pretty damn hard. Make sure you drink plenty of water too; dehydration is the last thing you need on a busy day, and water also has the benefits of flushing out the kidneys and making the skin better, so that if an important meeting with a client is on your agenda, then looking your tip-top best is something we cannot help but advocate.

4. Keep an eye on your emotions.

There are some times when we’re running late or just generally having a bad day, when our emotions begin to spiral out of control. Anger escalates, stress skyrockets, anxiety soars. Our handle on our emotional experiences can drop and make us act extremely out of character, often to the detriment of our loved ones. We snap, we yell, and we lose our true selves when we’re under huge amounts of pressure.

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So what can be done to change this? After all, it doesn’t do to be snapping at friends and family. So how about keeping an eye on your emotions throughout the day, say every half an hour. Stop, see how you’re feeling, and then see if something needs to be done. Maybe make a mental visual picture of traffic lights; if things are all okay, see green lights; if they’re not, then use amber or red, so that you can realize what’s happening and then regulate those emotions. Take deep breaths, centre yourself, and then move on with your day.

5. Make time for yourself.

No matter what you go through in your day-to-day life, one of the best ways to stay balanced and maintain a feeling of happiness is to schedule in plenty of pockets of ‘me time’. Rather than rushing around and then trying to gain some kind of peace and serenity at the end of the day, it is better to carve out segments of time throughout your working day.

Ensure that you actually take time with lunch and it’s not on the move or at your desk. Spend five minutes at the beginning of your day with some breathing exercises. Make sure your shower or bath at the end of the day is spent without mobile phones, email, or anything more taxing than some relaxing music or a good book. Make sure that treating yourself and ensuring some relaxation time are spread throughout the day at scheduled intervals–they’ll allow you some breathing room, a chance to clear your head and reassess the situations you’ve been in at work, and allow your mind to be at its best.

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6. Don’t take on more than you can handle.

In this modern age, we’re expected more and more to take on more and more–it doesn’t matter that we’re already juggling impossible expectations, work, dealing with pressures of family, friends and social media; we always seem to find more and more stuff piled on our proverbial plate. My advice, in order to keep your sanity, is to therefore keep your load to a minimum amount.

There are, obviously, going to be commitments that you will not be able to shed–work, family, friends–but don’t go signing yourself up for extra projects and events that will take up more time than you’re secretly okay with sacrificing. Saying no doesn’t mean that you’re giving up, it means you’re selecting and dividing up boundaries, which is not a bad thing and will prove conducive to keeping your balance in check.

7. Learn your human limitations.

This final tip works particularly well in the wake of the New Year where everyone is making big resolutions that usually fall flat by the end of the first month–but let’s be realistic, all of us. When you’ve got a big day ahead, one teeming with errands and possibilities and commitments, it will make you much happier and more balanced.

You’re not a superhuman. You cannot fit more hours into the day, and if you’re following all the tips I’m offering, you’ll be getting plenty of sleep and personal time anyway. You’re a flawed, fantastic human being, so going around like a thing possessed trying to get everything done in the span of a few hours is not only unrealistic, it also suggests that you need to sit down and reconsider what’s important in your life. Staying balanced and staying happy are not impossible when you happen to be living a busy life. Sure, they require a bit of planning and contemplating about your life and what’s important, but implementing these tips might be able to help add some center to your life.

Good luck.

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on May 22, 2020

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge, high-ranking people: your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean s/he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

Good leadership is about acquiring and honing specific skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

The following are some of the many characteristics great leaders exhibit.

1. A Positive Attitude

Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

Even some simple things like providing snacks or organizing a team Happy Hour can make a world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

Even in the worst situations, such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figures out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

Walt Disney had his share of hardships and challenges, and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse[1].

The key is to break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

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Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

2. Confidence

All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high, and the problem will be solved more quickly.

If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go downhill from there.

Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

  • List 5 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll appreciate yourself more.
  • Work on your strengths and do your best to enhance them.

3. A Sense of Humor

It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the workplace.

As a president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes,”[2] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[3] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest, which no doubt helped during some tense moments in the White House!

Learn to laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, and when you do this, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

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Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

4. Ability to Embrace Failure

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear, and binge-drinking under desks.

Great leaders do, in fact, lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

By asking “why” 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

5. Careful Listening and Feedback

This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

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Encourage communication between team members and establish an open door policy.

Practice not interrupting team members when they’re talking. Instead, summarize what they say and ask for feedback after you have talked about your ideas.

6. Knowing How and When to Delegate

No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

Although Steve Jobs was known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members, Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even when he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

  • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
  • Talk with your team members more to know about their passion and interests.

Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

7. Growth Mindset

Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk[4] drew attention because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

It’s important to spend time talking with other team members individually to understand them.

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Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

8. Responsibility

Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind[5], This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

Always ask yourself what you can do better or what you should change. Take responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

9. A Desire to Learn

It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career. Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories or search your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake[6]. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely, and it shows.

To effectively learn from the past, write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. Have all the lessons well organized, and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

The Bottom Line

Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader, too.

Make small changes to your habits when you work with your team, wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs, but we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

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Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

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