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How to Manage Time for a Truly Balanced Life

How to Manage Time for a Truly Balanced Life

Health and meaningful relationships add years and quality to our lives. Few people contest this fact.  Does it then follow that more people are focusing on these areas of their lives?  Do you regularly exercise and go for holidays or fun meals with your spouse/partner and family?  If the answer is no, why not?  Expense could be an issue.  If your reason is  “I can’t find the time,”  you’re not alone.  You keep track of your expenses and know how much your bank balance is, but do you also know exactly where your time goes?  Here are simple tools to manage time and become conscious of how you spend it.

1. Pause and review your past week.

You attend to many things at work and after work.  How do you decide on which tasks to prioritize?  Usually, you first do those that need to be finished sooner or whose deadlines are looming.  This generally works, but over the long term it could turn into crisis management rather than a way to manage time.  Cheryl Richardson in her book Take Time for Your Life challenges us to check where our time goes. Determined to get an accurate indicator for the exercise, I came up with these forms that assign colors per Life Area to make it visually easier to track time.

First, look over a typical week.  On the Time Tracking Daily Form, block the hours spent per day according to color of the Life Area they fall under.

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    Next, total those hours by Life Areas on the Time Tracking Weekly Totals Form. An optional step is to convert those weekly totals to a pie chart for a more dramatic visual.

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      So just where does your time go?  Aside from sleeping and eating, which area of your life do you spend the most time on? Which life area gets the smallest portion?  I had expected work to eat up a big chunk of my time, but was surprised at how little I spent on Spiritual well-being and on Fun and Adventure.

      2. Make a plan to manage time; decide which life areas need attention.

      These forms are not absolute and have room for improvement.  Exercise, for example, is grouped with sleeping under Physical and Emotional Health. Although this area gets the largest share of your time, it does not necessarily mean you are spending that time on exercise.  Watching TV falls under Fun and Adventure, but it’s a poor substitute for traveling or participating in a hobby. Reading falls under Physical and Emotional Health when it could actually be considered a hobby.  You can tweak the activities that go under each life area or even change the colors altogether.  What’s important is you’re aware of the other areas of your life you may be neglecting and can then decide to manage time so these get more attention.

      The Simple Abundance Companion author, Sarah Ban Breathnach remembers the shock she had felt while looking at her calendar and realizing, in her own words, that “there was no space in the day, week, or month for me to take care of my needs.” She talks about how our inability to say no to family, friends, colleagues, and volunteer work can quickly fill up our calendars, leaving no time for ourselves. Taking action, she set aside two hours a week on her calendar just for her.  She didn’t label it, but blocked the time with a bright yellow marker. This visual prompt made it easy for her to say no to any activity that was in conflict with her “just my own” time.  Her color-blocking tip inspired me to use colors on my weekly and daily schedules.

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      3. Prepare your weekly to-do list and daily schedule to prioritize those life areas you want to focus on.

      Planning what you want to accomplish on a weekly basis works well.  List the tasks by Life Area on the Weekly To-Do List.

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        These tasks can then be carried over to your Daily Schedule.  At the end of each day and week, review what you have accomplished.  The colors will clearly show which life areas you spent most of your day and the week on. You can then decide to focus on the other areas in the coming days and weeks.

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          Often, there will be demands on your time beyond your control. These effective, colorful tools will equip you with some leeway for deciding how you spend your time.  Consider it like a bank or expense account that shows you where your money goes.  Unlike money, time is a finite resource.  Once spent, it can never be recovered. When you consciously manage time, you can balance not just your finances, but more importantly, your life.

          Featured photo credit: Hour Glass, flickr, Nicole Gaunt via flickr.com

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          Last Updated on January 17, 2019

          8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

          8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

          In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

          Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

          Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

          Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

          Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

          The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

          There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

          How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

          According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

          Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

          Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

          The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

          Listen carefully:

          We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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          The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

          Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

          8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

          There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

          Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

          1. Pray Daily

          You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

          When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

          Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

          Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

          2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

          A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

          By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

          Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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          If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

          This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

          How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

          3. Smile Often

          Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

          Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

          Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

          The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

          4. Organize Your Working Desk

          A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

          When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

          Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

          Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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          5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

          I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

          Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

          What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

          6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

          God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

          I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

          I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

          7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

          You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

          How do you do that? This is my formula:

          First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

          If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

          If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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          If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

          Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

          8. Go Exercise

          Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

          The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

          You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

          12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

          The Bottom Line

          It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

          It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

          Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

          More Resources About Mindfulness

          Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

          Reference

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