1. Prioritize your daily activities with this easy exercise developed by Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Write down everything you try to do in a day (from driving the kids to school, working and taking a yoga class to reading, spending time with your partner and making phone calls to friends). On another piece of paper, draw a line horizontally across the centre of the page; write important on top and not important on the bottom. Next, draw a line vertically across the centre of the page; write urgent on the right side and not urgent on the left.
Slot all the to-dos from your list into their proper quadrant (for some people, watching a TV show ends up on the urgent side because a particular show is only on at a certain time; for some, calling a friend might end up on the not urgent side because you can call any time). Sit back and ponder your choices and consider that activities that aren't urgent are often the ones that fall by the wayside when you run out of time -- but they're also the ones that slow you down overall. See If you can reprioritize some of your daily activities.
Try to focus on those activities that may not be urgent but are important over the long term, including working out and connecting with friends.
2. To help get you thinking about lifestyle choices, pretend you're 90 and looking back on your life, advises Lindsay Sukornyk, a life and leadership coach in Toronto. As that 90-year-old, think about the things you wish you'd done and not done, she says. Are you living in a way that will help you fulfil those wishes? For example, if you want to be a healthy grandmother who plays with her grandchildren, are you taking time to be active?
3. If you're a wife and/or a mother, make a list of the expectations that you have of yourself in those roles. Whose expectations are they? Are they your mother's, your grandmother's or society's? If so, commit to starting your own traditions.
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4. Give yourself permission to avoid some of the chores you do regularly, says Sukornyk. Maybe you can skip washing the floors every week or from scratch for your kids' lunches. "What's the worst thing that will happen?" she asks.
5. Practise delegating chores at home and work. Don't hand over an entire project but do give away pieces of it. For example, ask one of your kids to sweep the floor while you follow with a dustpan. The chore may not be done perfectly or done the way you would do it -- but that's OK.
6. Ask your partner to step up to the plate. But make it a request, not a complaint. Say something like "When I get home after work, it would make me feel like a pampered princess if the dishwasher was emptied" rather than "You never empty the dishwasher."
7. Take a lunch break every day. Study after study shows that people who don't are less productive. Read. Go to the gym. Eat a healthy lunch. Meet a friend for a walk. Do whatever you like and come back refreshed.
Words to live by
"I've given up certain things to make my life balance better. My house is not as clean as it used to be, and I rarely have time for TV. But I always have time for exercise and for hugs and kisses from my children." -- Sharon Sawyer, via the Internet.
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