Work-Life Balance: Avoid Getting Overwhelmed

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One question I get asked a lot is "How do you do it? How do you have a full time job, freelance, blog, run a book club, plan a wedding, volunteer, and have a social life?" The last person that asked me that question was relieved when I said, " I don't know...I'm struggling for sure!"  They said it made them feel better to know that it's not easy! I tend to give my heart and soul to something, when one thing is thriving something else seems to suffer. That being said, there are few things that help me when I get to the point of feeling overwhelmed and stretched too thin.

1. Make a To-Do List (and use it!)

I make to-do lists on the regular, but you can't just make a to-do list, you have to use it and use it effectively. Sometimes I make a to-do list and then go about my day trying to remember all the the things I wrote down, not even referencing the list. When that happens I often get distracted by everything else that comes up throughout the day. (Can you say ADD?)I have learned that once I have a to-do list I need to focus on one thing at a time. When I try to accomplish it all at once I either A) Don't accomplish anything 100% (leaving me with another list of things partially done.) or B.) I make mistakes. Do one thing at a time until it is complete and then get that satisfaction of crossing it off your list.  If someone comes up to me asking me to do something while I am in the middle of a task, if it isn't urgent I will say, "That's a great question! I will figure that out for you, let me add it to my to-do list." Write it to down right away. You don't want to forget and be that person that doesn't do what they say they are going to! I like to create a master to-do list of everything I can think of that I possibly have to do and then I divide it by category: Work, freelance work, blog, personal, etc... Out of all those lists I make a list of the things I need to do that day. Starting off every morning with a productive to-do list is a great way to ensure you stay on track and achieve what you need to that day.

Tip: Sometimes I use my email as a to-do list. Anything I have finished I put in the appropriate folder, and then anything left in my inbox are things I have to do or follow up on.

2. Prioritize

Not only should you prioritize your to-do list, but you should know what the priorities for your week are. If one week the blog has taken a hit, then I make sure the next week I am not as social, or if I have been working non-stop at my job and haven't had time for 'me'  I make sure I fit that in. It's a balancing act, and you aren't going to get it right every time. If you were super social one week and can't be as social the next week your friends will understand, sometimes you have to learn to say 'no.'Your happiness and ability to enjoy life should be your number one priority. Sometimes we lose sight of what really matters when we are trying so hard to be productive.

3. Talk About It

When I am super overwhelmed and feel like I am failing, sometimes it helps to talk about it. Friends can help you gain perspective. Even writing about it in your journal can help. I have said this before, but I like to fancy myself wonder woman! (I can do anything and everything with a cup of coffee and a smile!) I hate to admit when I feel overwhelmed, but whenever I do, whenever I let a friend know I am struggling they always help me get a grip. Whether it's ideas on how I can manage my time, some words of encouragement, or if even if they just get it and can commiserate it always makes me feel better.

4. Cut Yourself Some Slack

When I feel overwhelmed a large part of that is because I am thinking of all the things I need to do that I haven't done! (Sometimes my to-do list is never ending!) Cut yourself some slack, you can't do it all at once, and remember what you HAVE done. I set very high expectations for myself (sometimes unrealistic ones!) I think we should set high exceptions for ourselves, and feel strongly that we all can accomplish amazing things, but sometimes those expectations need to be lowered. Know that it's enough to do the best that you can.

5. Take a Break

When I am not at work sometimes I think I should be using that time to be productive either blogging, cleaning, catching up on social media, basically anything I can check off the to-do list. Whether it's on a small scale, like getting up and walking around in the middle of project, or on a larger scale, like taking a vacation, we all need a break! Not only will it help you stay sane it will also help reenergize you and make you more creative and productive when you get back to it. Try to schedule a relaxing evening in at least one night a week. Be proactive and cut off overwhelm before it starts!

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How do you manage maintain a work-life balance?

Let me know in the comments!

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