Spoiler Alert: I don’t do it all. Between having a full-time job (I’m a software developer at an online banking company), taking care of my family including two little ones, and running a blog where I’m posting 3-5 times a week, my plate is pretty full almost all of the time. But despite all my various responsibilities and commitments, I’ve learned a few lessons over the years that have helped me keep all the balls in the air — and still keep my sanity!
So here are my 10 work life balance tips.
- PRIORITIZE. I use Google Calendar to keep track of my deadlines, and at the start of every day, I write down a to-do list. For me, the physical act of writing my list with pen and paper makes a difference as the process ingrains it in my mind more than just seeing it typed out on the computer. Knowing that its likely that not everything will get done, I make sure that the most important items that MUST be done are marked. In a given day, I try to keep my MUST-DOS to less than 5, giving myself a reasonable limit that’s doable in my mind. For those days when my must-dos start to look overwhelming, I’ll continue using some of the other tactics listed below to pare down or simplify my list to something more reasonable.
- OUTSOURCE. For tasks that can be more effectively done by someone else, I’m ok with paying someone to get it done. For me, that includes having someone come every other week to mow our lawn, paying for a maid service to come every month to deep clean the house, arranging for the occasional food delivery service whenever I don’t have to cook, and the list goes on. For the blog, I invest in services that auto-schedule Pinterest pins and recently invested in hiring someone to optimize my SEO. Growing up I was always a do-it-yourself type of person, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my time is worth more to me. Learning to let go of some of the control I had in every part of my life gave me back the freedom that I needed. It’s been worth every penny!
- MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME. I swear by the Pomodoro technique. It’s a strategy I shared in my 5 tips for productivity post and it’s been a game-changer for me. Previously, I found myself constantly distracted either checking email / social media whenever I was at the computer and it would take me twice as long to finish a given task. Setting a timer for 25 minutes and turning off my phone / disabling all notifications, I’ve found that I can really get my mind to focus. Another strategy I use for making the most of my time is tackling the hardest items first thing when I’m fresh in the morning. While I’m not a morning person, I do know that I work most efficiently first thing in the morning. Challenging tasks seem more doable and I’m going into it with a clear mind and renewed energy.
- EXERCISE. Before kids, I worked out because I felt like I had to in order to stay in shape. Now with two kids, working out is a gift I give to myself! It’s one of the few times when I am doing something for me and there’s nothing better than the high I get after a tough and sweaty workout. I did running and yoga for the past 15 years and added in Crossfit for three years when I wanted to get strong after having had Dylan. I recently swapped out Crossfit for OrangeTheory and I can tell you that I’m addicted to the workouts at OrangeTheory!
- NUTRITION. I always tell myself that you can’t out-train a bad diet. Nutrition is 80% of the weight-loss equation and I focus on eating real food and incorporating something green in every meal. I started taking a probiotic vitamin when I was breastfeeding with Dylan after learning that it helps boost immunity as well as digestive health even in little babies! I also immediately noticed that probiotics gave me more energy and clarity while also relieving me from bloating and gas. I recently switched to taking Hyperbiotics Pro-15 Probiotics and love the super easy-to-swallow pearls. Each pearl contains 15 targeted probiotic strains and I don’t have to worry about keeping the bottle refrigerated either! Hyperbiotics uses a patented manufacturing process called LiveBac® that enables them to guarantee the viability of their formulas for 18 months after the date of manufacture with zero refrigeration. The formula is vegetarian and free of lactose, gluten, and sugar — I can feel good knowing that I’m putting a high-quality supplement in my body! Hyperbiotics Pro-15 is available at Target and you can learn more at hyperbiotics.com. #followyourgut
- INVEST IN QUALITY CHILDCARE. One of the hardest moments for me has been having to leave my kids to go back to work. The only way that I could do this was knowing that my little ones were in good hands. Adrian and I toured countless daycares, talked with everyone we knew for referrals, and ultimately ended up having a nanny come to our house for the first two years of both Dylan’s and Mei’s life. I had no idea childcare was so expensive (it was like paying a college tuition!) and in the end realized that it is an investment. Having childcare that I trust and is reliable makes a huge difference as it gives me the peace of mind so that I can work effectively and not worry. I could write a whole post on how we’ve gone about finding childcare (from nannies to schools to babysitters) as well as my recommendations so let me know if you’re interested!
- DIVIDE AND CONQUER. As the kids are getting older now, they’re getting involved in more extracurriculars and our weekend schedules have recently been filled with piano lessons, t-ball practice, and ballet lessons. Not to mention birthday parties that seem to happen every other week! In the past few months, Adrian and I have had to adopt a divide and conquer approach as we share responsibility for taking different kids to different activities. It’s been the only way that we have any time (and sanity) left for ourselves by the time the day is over!
- SHARE A SPECIAL MOMENT EVERYDAY. This is a tip that I read recently and one that I’ve adopted too in the past few weeks. At the end of each day when I’m putting the kids to sleep, I ask myself “In what specific way did I connect with each of my children?” Previously I noticed that there would be days when I was just focused on getting dinner ready on time and having the kids in bed on time that I would forget to slow down and connect with each of my kids. Now, I find stolen moments when I can — whether it’s goofing around with Dylan as he’s putting on his pajamas or sitting for a little longer with Mei as she finishes her breakfast in the morning — I make sure that I’ve spent a few minutes giving my kids extra attention. If your kids are old enough (we started doing this when Dylan was 3), I also love asking my kids what their favorite and least favorite part of their day was before they go to bed. It’s a great way for Dylan to reflect on his day as well as giving me some insight on his interests and how he perceives things.
- GIVE YOURSELF GRACE. Even though I can try my hardest to do it all, sometimes certain things slip through and I have to learn and reevaluate just how much I can take on. Instead of constantly beating myself up, I have to accept that I need to scale back my commitments and/or see how I can change up how I’m working.
- LET GO OF THE #MOMGUILT. I think all moms struggle with a bit of mom guilt. We want to do it all and give kids our everything, but life is messy and doesn’t always meet our expectations. Accept that there will be good days and bad days. I try to make the most of every minute when I’m working as well as when I’m with my kids. I focus all my energy on my work when I’m working but once I’m done and spending time with the kids, I make sure that they have my full attention and all distractions are put away.
And finally, for a peek into how I manage my schedule:
- I take all my blog pictures over the weekend. I take 2-3 picture sets at a time and it usually takes about 2-3 hours depending on how far I need to drive to a given photoshoot location. I take my own photos using a tripod and remote so at least in that respect I don’t need to worry about coordinating with a photographer.
- I usually have my editorial calendar set out for the next 2 weeks up to a month and can plan my photoshoots accordingly.
- My time to work on the blog starts once I put the kids to sleep every night, usually from 9pm – midnight.
- I’ll catch up on social media about 3 times a day — I’ll post to all my social media channels first thing in the morning and again to Instagram in the early evening. At the same time, I’ll spend about 10 minutes commenting on others’ posts. And finally I’ll spend another 15 minutes at the end of the day catching up on reading blog posts and commenting on Instagram once again!
- I workout 3-5 times a week for 1 hour, sometimes during my lunch hour, other times right after work, and always on the weekend first thing in the morning.
- I cook dinner 2-3 times a week, usually 1-2 times on the weekends and once on a weekday (we rely heavily on recipe delivery services such as Blue Apron and most recently Sunbasket). I always cook enough for leftovers that’ll stretch out for another 1-2 meals. I’m also lucky that my workplace also offers catered lunch and encourages us to take leftovers home as well. Work leftovers usually help out 1-2 times a week and we’ll go out to eat another 1-2 times a week!
- And weekends are always family catch-up time which involves at least 1 trip to the park or someplace special for the kids!
I hope these work life balance tips gives you some insight on how I manage my work, family, and blog life. It’s a constant juggle and I’m always trying to figure out ways to be more efficient — to work smarter, not harder. Let me know if you have any questions and as always, I love reading your comments!
Disclaimer: The above statements regarding supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Probiotics support many facets of overall health when taken regularly as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.
This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Hyperbiotics, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #HealthiestDaysAhead http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
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Photography by Meena Jeanes Photography