Busyness or Business…It’s a Matter of Balance

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You are commuting on freeways that are getting more congested and now, icy. Your cell phone continues to ring and interprets your day and maybe, your night. You work through lunch as a time saver. You were gone for two days and have numerous emails waiting for you. You have a dinner meeting, but it means you will miss your daughter’s basketball game. Can you relate? These auxiliary stresses that we might encounter can add chaos to our daily routine and deplete our energy, our patience, our attitude, our disposition, and our zest to be productive at work. The negative variables that we experience compete and upset the work/life balance we strive to have. Balance, that sense of everything is going well in our life gets lopsided or tipsy. As kid, I loved to play a game called Tip-It. The object of the game was to keep a little plastic man balancing on top of a thin pole as plastics disks were added to disturb his equilibrium. It was nerve wracking and provided fun lessons in physics, a steady hand, and risk. The game reminds me of our lives where our work/life balance tips back and forth and sometimes, topples. The result? Stress shows up as irritability, fatigue, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, overeating… you name it, something gives. How can we cope with the busyness or chaos that upsets the scale of work/life balance? Try this:
  1. Notice – Begin your day with a log of what gets in the way as prepare for work, commute, to work, complete your work day, or return home. The log does not have to be detailed, just jot down the distractions, interferences, upsets, or mishaps that you encountered. Is the busyness a frequent, occasional, or rare event for you? Do you experience more busyness in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
  2. Sort – Look at your list and categorize the busyness that causes imbalance. Using a scale of 1 to 3, see how much weight was added to you scale of work/life balance and note the frequency of the occurrence.
    • I can handle this, no big deal.
    • I can feel a sinking feeling, my body is tensing up, and I am upset.
    • It is hard to breathe, my palms are sweaty, I feel numb/dizzy, that feeling of helplessness or rage is sweeping over me.
  3. Patterns – How did you score? Do you have more 1’s, 2’s or 3’s? How often do the events occur in your day? What time of day do you experience the busyness? What do the patterns tell you?
  4. Process – What can you do to eliminate or turn around an event or the busyness that does not serve you or your company? What are you willing to do about it? Play with some options.
  5. Action Plan – What’s next for you? More busyness or more business? What can you adjust or eliminate to allow you to control your day and live with intention and choice?
Here are a few tips for you to consider beginning your day with the intention of striving for balance:
  • Make a plan to physically and emotionally stay centered and focused to hold the balance for the day.
  • Get grounded with your morning. Maybe it’s going to the gym, a run or just stretching.
  • Have a cup of coffee or tea, play with the dog, or glance at the newspaper just for fun.
  • Try early morning mediation, reading, or journaling.
  • Listen to a CD for relaxation or a book on your way to work. Many enjoy their favorite radio station for a good laugh or to feel informed.
  • Breathe…inhale, hold for the count of 10 and exhale through your mouth. Repeat 3 times. Inhale calming, fresh air, and focus on the intention to succeed. Release the stress with the deep exhale and expel the nervousness and clutter that traps the mind, body, and soul.

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  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks for all of the great comments. Samuel, you're so right, learning to say "no" helps so much. Too often, we want to do everything and end up over-committing.Lee- If only it were as simple as just turning the smart phone off. Now, since everyone is so connected, there is often an expectation that you'll check your email at least every couple of hours, if not more often than that. Employers have begun to demand or at least expect, their employees to work after they leave the office.
  • Sourish P
    Sourish P
    Thank you so very much for putting this out here.
  • Sourish P
    Sourish P
    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say wonderful blog!
  • Mrinalini S
    Mrinalini S
    I feel your shame. I never had any luck with this stuff, either.So glad to know I'm not by myself!
  • Bubba
    Way to go on this essay, hepeld a ton.
  • Samuel
    I've worked a very busy schedule for the last 4yrs and I have learned that it is really not about ignoring emails, calls or even pages but to learn how to say "no". I found myself in a position where I did not like turning people down and it ended up consuming me. My home life was out of control and people at work will just eat up your time if you allow them but would be quick to say "WE have to let YOU go" if they need to. Basically
  • babiker
    the essay is fine .And the tips are realistic can be done at easy
  • Lee
    Why does it seem as though people are afraid to state what to me at least seems obvious: log off the computer and turn off the cell phone.  If you don't have it on at night, it won't interrupt you.  Turn on your home answering machine and ignore the phone ringing.  Log onto email when it's convenient for YOU to return messages.  Of course these suggestions are meant for when you are home and not at work, but still you can apply them to the office to some degree.  For example, don't feel obligated to respond to every email the second it comes in like some Pavlovian response.  Do emails once every hour or two if that's an option.

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