There is a ton going on in my life right now, and I bet it’s the same for you. Between work, family, friends, church, school, and life in general, it’s hard to find time to breathe, let alone do laundry or clean my house. For those days (and weeks, months, and years) where our lives feel unbalanced, all is not lost.
In fact, you can create a work life balance schedule to get back on track and restore healthy work life balance to your days. It’s not an easy task, but it’s a rewarding one you can complete with these 5 practical tips for creating a balanced schedule.
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What is a Balanced Schedule?
A balanced schedule is less about what’s on the list and more about how much of each activity or task is on the list. Work life balance schedules properly prioritize your responsibilities and leave room for your passions and social life, while also allowing time for rest and rejuvenation.
However, the process of crafting a balanced schedule can be difficult. It involves prioritizing how you spend your time, dedicating time to each activity or task, and—what I find most difficult—cutting things from the list. But though the task is challenging, knowing how to balance time and schedule your life has benefits, too.
Why is it important to know how to balance time and schedule your life?
Balanced schedules help us live a more well-rounded life and split our time in positive ways that prevent burn out, unneeded stress, and frustration.
One of my more recent work life balance examples is from the second semester of my PhD program. I spent 3 months straight doing nothing but school, and my health mentally and physically started to suffer for it.
Finally, I said enough is enough. I joined a gym and I started exercising regularly. I needed a healthy outlet for relieving stress and frustration. And, exercise, especially in the morning, has helped to clear my mind and energize me as I start my day.
Above all I needed balance in my life. I needed a constant reminder that there is more to life than work.
How do I Create a Balanced Schedule?
Now that we’ve gone over the importance of having a healthy work life balance, here’s more about how to balance time, schedule your life, and how to manage a busy schedule. My best advice for creating a balanced schedule is to keep it flexible.
Making a strict schedule is the quickest way to fail because our lives are uncertain and circumstances are constantly changing around us. So, when we try to create a fixed work life balance schedule, it can’t adapt to the way our lives work. And in those moments when we’re frustrated that the rigid schedule didn’t bend, we’re likely to throw it away, give up, and let chaos and stress rule our worlds.
1 – Determine blocks of time for priorities
First, if you’re wondering how to create and manage a balanced schedule, start with determining blocks of time for priorities: work, play and rest. We often block our time for work but neglect the other areas of our life. As a result, those items can easily be pushed to the side.
Overtime, frustrations mount when schedules are unbalanced and there is no time for our passions, hobbies, social life and rest. Eventually, this will negatively affect our work, too, since we’ll be physically tired and burned out.
Instead, make a plan now of how you will include time for hanging out with friends and family, spending time on your hobbies and other passions, and relaxing or recharging. I recommend blocking off time every week for these activities, like “appointments” or “meetings” you have for work. Then treat them as such, and don’t let work overtake your schedule.
2 – Make room for “white” space
While blocking off time to create a better work life balance schedule, be sure to include “white space” into your schedule. “White space” is unscheduled, buffer time or dedicated time for rest and catching up. This white space is important for four reasons:
- It gives you time to reflect. Introspection is key to processing feelings and emotions, surprises and changes, or challenging situations. I’m guilty of not reflecting enough and then letting my emotions boil over or blow up later on. Since I’ve been allowing myself ot have more introspection time, I’m calmer and more peaceful throughout the day. Here are some key reflection questions you can use to reflect on the past and look ahead to the future.
- It gives you time to pray. 1 Thessalonians tells us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (5:16-18 ESV). When our schedules get hectic, that’s when we need God the most, but it’s also often when we think we don’t have time to pray. Even if our prayer is a sentence, one minute, or ten minutes, our prayers matter. As 1 Thess. 5:18 says, this is the will of God for us.
- It gives you time to meditate on Scripture. When we don’t have the words to say in a prayer, but need encouragement, then we can turn to God’s word. Mediating on Scripture throughout the day or listening to the Bible are ways we can stay connected to God through the craziness and find balance and rest in Him. (Psalm 119:27, 48)
- It gives you time to rest. We weren’t meant to be going full speed all day every day. By adding buffer time into your work life balance schedule, you can take advantage of the “white space” to rest, reflect, pray, and catch up on previous tasks that took longer than planned. It also allows you to adapt your schedule if priorities change throughout the day.
3- Know what’s important for you
Above all, when it comes to how to balance time, YOU must prioritize. Not your friend, not your neighbor, not your boss or coworkers, not even me. The key to a balanced schedule is deciding for yourself before even laying out the schedule, what is most important to you.
It may not be how anyone else would rank their responsibilities or choose to spend their time, but that’s okay. Your work life balance schedule has to work for YOU.
So be ruthless in your prioritizing. Be honest with yourself. Don’t overcommit. With these things in mind, you’ll have a better grasp on how you should spend your time and what a balanced schedule means for you, right now, in this season of your life.
4 – Make a plan to manage a busy schedule (and adjust it!)
The last and final step is to actually make the plan to manage your busy schedule. If you prefer to write your schedule, I recommend these planners and organizers, which have space for work and home responsibilities. Otherwise, there are online tools you can use like Google Calendar, your computer calendar, or Trello.
Before you begin, make sure you have your priorities straight. Once you start making your schedule, first write in your top priorities. Then make sure you have time for “white space.” Add in any leftover commitments, responsibilities, or activities.
Now take a step back and look at your schedule. Do you feel overwhelmed? Then find something to remove. Do you feel good about your schedule? Then do it for a week, and adjust as needed. (Trust me, you’ll probably need to make adjustments).
- How do I maintain work life balance?
When you have found the sweet spot of a balanced life, the next step is to maintain it. It’s easy for work or other tasks to creep in and take over the time you’ve blocked off for “play” and “rest.” If you’re not diligent, then a balanced schedule can become unbalanced rather quickly.
In the meantime, here are some quick tips you can use to help you with maintaining work life balance:
- Establish good work habits
- Get a good amount of sleep
- Schedule in me-time and taking time for yourself
- Maintain focus at work, be present, so you can be the most productive
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help at work
- Don’t be afraid to say no (but do it politely and professionally)
5 – Think progress not “perfection”
When finding a balanced schedule and creating a weekly schedule template, it’s important to have the right perspective and expectations. A balanced schedule is not the end-all-be-all solution to your work life balance problems. It is a tool that you can use to schedule your life and manage a busy schedule.
However, balance means adjusting priorities as life is constantly changing. Flexibility is important as it allows for white space, for rest, and for us to change to new demands.
Benefits of a Balanced Work Life Schedule
When wondering how to manage work life balance for a woman, people often ask “How do you do it all?” The true and honest answer is always the same.
You don’t do it all.
The biggest challenge with finding work life balance is realizing that you can’t do everything. You prioritize, you plan, and you adjust so that you can live a balanced life where work is not taking over your life and neither is anything else. Where you have time to pray, meditate on God’s word, and rest. Where you can spend time with friends and family without feeling guilty about logging off your work laptop.
With a more balanced schedule, you can also experience the benefits of a balanced work life schedule, such as:
- Increased productivity
- Avoiding burnout
- Having a better attitude about work
- More focus and less distractions
- Higher quality work
- And other benefits from maintaining a healthy work life balance
Above all, I believe the greatest benefit of having a work life balance schedule is cutting down on the stress, frustration, and chaos of a busy schedule. Adulting is hard enough as it is. Let’s not overcomplicate it with no work life balance.
How do you create a balanced schedule?
Leave me a comment below!
Don’t miss this! More posts about Working and the Young Professional Lifestyle:
- 9 Benefits of Maintaining a Healthy Work Life Balance
- How to Prioritize and Plan for a Busy Day
- 7 Secrets for Setting Work Boundaries & Getting Better Work Life Balance
- Avoid the Guilt Trap: How to Say No at Work Professionally
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