“How do you balance it all?” That’s the question I get asked more than any other. Sure, my life is full, I’ll admit it. (I’m not exactly relaxing everyday on a beach eating peeled grapes.)
With five sons, my work, sharing Breaking Busy, and the normal craziness of life — my secret is great systems and amazing technology.
Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite tips, tricks, and strategies on work productivity and life balance with you.
1. Use Your Calendar to Make Time for What’s Important
I’m obsessed with Gcal (Google Calendar). I not only put all my appointments in it, I use it to schedule my life. I realized that if I want to actually live on purpose, I had to dedicate time to my priorities. I learned to schedule blocks of time for prayer, Bible study, for exercise, for paying bills, even to call a friend.
We have to make time in advance for things that are important to us and things that bring us joy.
If we fill up our calendars with busywork we won’t make time for what makes us happy.
2. Cut Out Errands & Save Money with Amazon Prime
What did we do before Amazon Prime?! Basically, it was the dark ages. If you aren’t on Amazon Prime, you can try it out for 30 days FREE.
Not only do I order all my home office supplies from Amazon (OK, if I’m honest 90 percent of everything I buy comes from Amazon), I even get everything from vitamins, groceries, to mascara auto-delivered every month. This saves me from running to Target and buying twice as much as I need because it’s cute and right in front of me.
3. Set Three Achievable Goals Per Day
We all love our to-do lists and have the habit of listing 20 things we want to get done in a day. Most days we accomplish five of those things and beat ourselves up over the rest. Instead of listing out everything, look for the three most important things for the day and focus on those.
4. Make Decision-Making Painless
In Breaking Busy, I shared the ‘5 F’s of Decision Making’ and my favorite part of the framework is focusing on the future version of yourself.
I ask myself, “What will ‘Future Alli’ say about this decision next month or next year?” It helps me say no to new obligations, pass up opportunities, and make decisions without worrying that I’ll regret them later.
5. Find Peace by Thinking in Terms of Seasons
When I face a big project, a time of busyness for the family, or even struggles in my own energy level, I try to remind myself to think of life as a series of seasons. In some seasons, I may have to work longer hours (for book writing, it means I lock myself away for six months of Saturdays to write).
In some seasons with the family, we are just flat out going to be more stressed. Between activities, sports, and the constant desire for less parental rules (ahem), Mark and I keep perspective (and our sanity) by reminding ourselves and each other that it’s a just a season.
6. Beat Digital Clutter Once and for All
Digital clutter is the worst. The stress caused by wondering where that article you wanted to reread is, where that shopping list went, and where your files are can be overwhelming. The key to reducing stress is to keep everything organized in one place.
I use Evernote to organize my whole life. It’s like my extra brain. Here’s a whole tutorial on how I use Evernote.
7. Work towards Ongoing Growth, Not Perfection
We all know that nothing is ever really perfect. There’s always an issue, a problem, a small flaw somewhere. If we aren’t careful, we can allow ourselves to focus on little issues and get stuck. I say, “Done is better than perfect” and strive for growth, not perfection.