Work-Life Balance

How to Create Margin in Your Overly Busy Life

Many people feel overwhelmed by life’s demands. Despite all the gadgets and gizmos, they don’t have more time. They are only getting busier—and falling further and further behind.

Sadly, many people are convinced their situation is temporary:

  • “As soon as I get acclimated to this new job, I will have some breathing room.”
  • “As soon as I get my toddler into school, I will have some margin.”
  • “As soon as my spouse finishes his current work assignment, I will have some help with the kids.”

But, the weeks turn into months. And the months turn into years. People go from one “temporary situation” to the next. Before long, it’s permanent. Like the proverbial frog in the kettle, we’ve been boiled one degree at a time.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You really can live a balanced life. But first, you have to understand what is creating the busyness in your life.

Where Busyness Comes From

Busyness comes from one or more of the following sources:

Cutbacks at work

The currency economic state has meant that most organizations are cutting costs. This means fewer people doing the same amount of work. Like the children of Israel under Pharaoh, you are having to “make more bricks with less straw” (Exodus 5:6–9).

The good news is that if you’ve survived thus far, you’re probably great at multi-tasking, prioritizing, and working under tight deadlines. You’re adding value, and that’s why you still have a job. The downside is you’re not sure when your company will resume hiring and give you some relief.

What to do? Just say “no.” At least to some things. If you don’t establish boundaries, you will eventually burn out or go through a meltdown—and then you won’t be of much use to anyone.

Competition in the market

In the current environment, more people are competing for fewer jobs. More competition means everyone is working harder just to keep what they have. As a result, it is more difficult to stand out and get noticed.

This means that you feel more pressure to perform. You don’t want to lose the job you have, so you add more hours, more meetings, and more trips—anything to add value. But when is enough enough? You can drive yourself crazy, constantly looking in the rear-view mirror and wondering when your competition will overtake you.

What to do? Focus on what you can control. For example, truly unplug when you’re not working and communicate that to your team. Most people will respect the boundaries you set and might be inspired to do the same.

Online technologies and gadgets

In our increasingly connected world, we are always on, always accessible, 24/7. While new gadgets and software make it possible to do more in less time, sadly, we often fill this with more work.

These technologies—email, texting, social media—may start out as a way to connect faster and more efficiently. But soon, they can take over our lives, stealing the last bit of margin we have left. This margin is the cost involved, especially if we don't proactively manage it.

What to do? You don’t have to swear off technology, but you do have to be sensible. If you are accessible to everyone 24/7, you’ll ultimately be accessible to no one—especially those that matter the most.

Yes, balance is possible. But it requires that you recognize the forces that threaten to disrupt it and put into place the appropriate countermeasures. You are in control of setting and upholding boundaries you set.

A great way to set boundaries around work is to establish Daily Workday Startup and Shutdown Rituals. Learn more by using our Ritual Builder.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use and believe will add value to our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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