Handy step by step guide on how to balance your life.

There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences- Jack Welch

Lack of balance is usually defined as spending too much of your time and efforts in one area while letting other areas of your life slide. The most obvious sign of imbalance is the vicious circle of negative feelings: unhappiness, incompetence and guilt.

You may be excelling in one area of your life, yet you have the distinct feeling of unhappiness and to an extent incompetence because you know that you are failing somewhere else or there is something else you really want to be doing. To top it off you feel guilty. Guilty for wanting more when you are already doing so well.

Do you have an amazing successful career you are really good at but you don’t feel happy because there is something else you’d rather be doing, e.g. run your own business.

Are you excelling in your career but doing so means you have less time to spend on your family, or on your health and fitness?

Or is it the other way around: You are a brilliant parent and loving spouse but you have no career and it is something you feel is missing in your life because you want a successful career.

So you know you need more balance in your life but where do you start?

1. Stop and take stock

Take 10 minutes to make 2 lists. On list A write down everything you are doing right now in your life. On list B write down what you want to be spending more time doing. These lists are not mutually exclusive, so it is perfectly fine to have the same items on both.

2. Now prioritise

Go over list B and write a number next to each item in the order you want to do them. You are now prioritising where you want to spend your time first.

3. Highlight the non-negotiables

Highlight from both lists the tasks/items you simply cannot do without or give up, e.g. your job if it is your main source of income. Or it could be school run, family time, etc.

4. Look at what time you have left in after your non-negotiables

Take your planner the paper type or digital one, and fill in the time you need to have your non-negotiables. What is left is the time you can devote to the other things on list B.

5. Planning where you will spend your time

From your list B, slot the things you want to do in your planner and away you go. You have already numbered them in the order you want to do them.

Simple isn’t it?

It is not always so simple.

It may not work like this for everyone. Some of us have jobs that take too much of our time and leave little time for everything else. Or we may have limited childcare and not enough money for a gym membership. So how do you go around these obstacles?

1. Identify your obstacles

So what is in your way? What is stopping you from finding balance in your life?Let’s take an example: you are working too many hours and don’t have enough time for your family, or for yourself.

Obstacles are work and time.

2. Brainstorm for solutions

Possible solutions include: reducing working hours, working from home certain days to cut out the commute time, hiring help, e.g. assistant, delegating job load to others.

Can’t do this? Consider looking for another job, what will suit you best? Do you need more skills? Look into learning and increasing your skillset. Can you work closer to home?

3. Implement solutions

It may be a bit of trial and error before you find what works for you. Start by implementing one solution at a time. E.g. work from home on Fridays so you can start your weekend earlier.

Or increase your skill set and apply for a new position with same or more pay but less hour/ workload.

4. Review / re–evaluate

Re-evaluate to see if said solution is working for you. Is it enough or you do need to free up more time?

5. Make changes

Make any changes if you need to or try another solution. You can also experiment and implement more than one solution at a time.

The real first step to find balance in your life is when you take the decision to make it happen.

The step by steps described here can be applied to various area of your life. I have used work and family balance as an example. However you may use it to find solutions to free up more of your time in order for you to pursue a hobby, focus on your physical health, or increasing your knowledge and skills.

Originally published at medium.com