With four young kids, most days i have to decide what gets cheated…and I try on more occasions than not, to cheat my work, for the sake of my family. There are a few things I’ve run across over the years that have stuck in my mind and I look to often to help me find/create balance. Maybe these can help you if you find yourself trying to get a handle on this balancing act:
1) Cheat your job – I didn’t say cheat at your job…but cheat your job. I don’t think those I work with would say I suffer from a lack of engagement, or follow through, but if the choice is between work and my family… I try to choose my family…every time. If it’s between wrapping up emails, or making phone calls that can be done as easily tomorrow as they can today…chose tomorrow. I read once, “who on their death bed wishes they had checked more email?” Chose your family.
2) Finish Lines – This is from Hybels: In his book “Axioms” he talks of having daily, weekly, and yearly finish lines. Mental markers that designate the “end” of something. I keep (at least for a musician/creative) a pretty regimented schedule. I work during the day and when I leave work, its a finish line… I am done for the day, barring some emergency. Each week we work to prepare Sunday services, and unless something changes from our Pastor, by the time I leave Wednesday night, Sunday is set….its a finish line. Even if I have to stay a little after rehearsal to finalize things, I do so that when I leave… we should be set and I’ve crossed that line. And at least once a year, I take a week or longer vacation and I completely unplug. I look toward that time, and see it as a real finishing point for a season. Set some finish lines of your own.
3) Unplug – I know by now, this piece of advice is right there with “don’t text and drive.” Its one of those things that we know…we understand, yet we have such a hard time doing. Why do we have such an addiction to being connected to everyone in the world accept for the people in front of our face? It’s especially harming for families. So although we’ve heard it a number of times…Dad’s especially; turn off the notifications when you get home. If you have an iPhone, set “Do Not Disturb” to automatically turn on at 7pm or so. Its automated, and it happens and you don’t even know it. You’d be amazed at what people can figure out on their own :) I doubt that whatever comes in between 6pm and 11pm can’t wait until tomorrow. Who at the end of their life is going to say “I wish I had been on my phone more”?
4) Get up Early….Uggggh. I wish this were’t the case. But in quite a few years now of reading books and articles on successful people, and more precisely, successful people who have successful families; the universal habit I see is rising early. I love the idea of rising early. The only problem is, I also can be a night owl :) When you discipline yourself to rise early, spending time getting your day together, your thoughts together, and reading/praying; your day will be more in balance. And, from everything I’ve ever read, your productivity and vocational success will be better for it.
Balancing life isn’t something that I think you ever “figure out.” It’s something that you always look to achieve while allowing yourself grace for when you miss it. Its about making the choice NOW to put priorities in order…do it for today….then wake up tomorrow and try to do it again!