Is Work-Life Balance Even a Thing? 8 Practical Tips (plus a few resources)

If you’ve ever felt like you are drowning in your life, you are not alone. Sometimes I look at my calendar and just laugh. Then there’s all the stuff that’s not on my calendar - like my husband’s entire world, dinner, and kindergarten homework (Can we take a moment to acknowledge how unprepared I was for kindergarten homework?). People often ask: “How do you do it all? As a mom, an executive, and a pastor’s wife?” I’m pretty sure most of us are in the same boat, trying to fit more in a day than should reasonably fit. Can I have a show of hands? Who’s with me? 

So, the question of the hour: Is work-life balance even a thing?

Here’s what I’m learning: this whole idea of work-life balance it’s a never-ending process because seasons change, needs change, and the highest bidder for our attention changes. Michael Hyatt recently shared a great podcast on this very topic and explained physical balance and work-life balance have a lot in common. Just as building our endurance and physical balance is difficult, uncomfortable, and often pretty shaky (strange yoga pose anyone?), so is building work-life balance. It stretches us, causes us to grow, and feels a lot like working out. A clam equilibrium is an illusion, and holding out for a picture-perfect reality ramps up the pressure and positions us for disappointment. The tension will always exist (or at least come-and-go) because our lives will never be stagnant.

8 Practical Tips for Maintaining Work-Life Balance

How I’m practicing work-life balance right now may not work in 6-months, but for now, here are a few things I’ve found to be helpful (don’t miss the resources at the end!): 

  1. Start with gratitude. I know, I know. Not what you were hoping for. I’m telling you - when I began starting my days with a quick list of what I’m grateful for, things changed. Our circumstances didn’t change, but my insides started changing. This little discipline helps me remember living this life with my family, my team, and my community is a privilege, not a burden. 
  2. Establish a consistent morning routine. I have a very specific morning routine I CANNOT live without. It starts with coffee and some Jesus time, then a beautiful little process of calendar review and prioritizing my to do’s. You can read all about this jewel of a routine, and a whole host of other productivity tips, in the eBook featured below. 
  3. Get help with meal planning. I’m a firm believer in letting the experts do their thing, and I’m NOT an expert in meal planning. I’m looking for fast, tasty, and healthy when it comes to our meals. Right now, PrepDish is my new favorite thing. I appreciate the reasonable number of meals and pre-made shopping lists. 
  4. Turn off phone notifications. The distractions of new text messages and emails can be constant. Constantly stopping and restarting my work is a serious productivity drain. So, I’ve turned all notifications off. If it’s really an emergency, there are other ways to reach me. Otherwise, it can wait.
  5. Designate time for social media and email. This is a recent change, and it’s requiring real effort and discipline, but I like it. At the start of my day, I determine when I will process email and visit social media, usually twice a day. It’s multiplied my productivity, plus, my face isn’t buried in a screen all the time.
  6. Wait 24 hours before making big commitments. My knee jerk reaction is to say yes. Sometimes because I don’t want to disappoint whoever is asking. Sometimes FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) gets the best of me and I give in. A 24-hour waiting period allows me to fully count the cost. If the opportunity cost is too high (i.e. if I will miss one too many bedtimes during the week, or if it will compromise my commitment to health or my ability to meet a deadline at work), the answer is no.
  7. Evening lunch & school/work prep. It’s simple: our mornings are more smooth and relaxed when we prepare lunches, backpacks, and clothes the night before - for the kiddos and the grownups. When I fall out of this habit, I always regret it. 
  8. Outsource a household chore. It can seem out of reach, but maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s fewer lunches out or foregoing your coffee run, or even changing from cable to Netflix. We said goodbye to cable years ago and I stopped missing it almost immediately. Maybe, like me, you despise spending hours at the grocery store on your ONE full day at home. A lot of stores allow you to submit your list in advance and will deliver your groceries to your car upon arrival. Or maybe a delivery service could do one big shopping trip a month so you are left with a few quick runs for the basics. Our kids are young right now, but eventually, they will be able to help carry some of this load. I couldn’t wait to do the grocery shopping when I finally got my drivers license! 

Recommended Resources

“Do You Really Want Work-Life Balance” by Michael Hyatt - a great podcast on this topic

PrepDish - my new favorite meal planning resource

Rifle Paper Company Planner - what I would use if I was still using a paper system for to do’s. It’s pretty, inspiring and is has pockets! If you are in Lake Jackson, Refresh Boutique has these in stock (as of the date this post is published...and there's a coupon on the website!)

5 Ways to Work Smarter - My new eBook available below. Because exactly NONE of us have the time or energy to work harder, I’ve compiled a summary of best-practices for making the most of your time, plus some great tips, tricks, and app recommendations…and…drum roll please…a printable Productivity Planner! I hope you find it helpful!

JOIN the conversation by commenting below: What's your favorite tip for work-life balance?