17 Ways to Add Balance to Your Life

March 1, 2005

Finding time for yourself, creating a happy home life, and succeeding at work aren’t impossible if you learn to set limits, periodically say no, and forgo expectations of perfection in yourself and others. Real estate consultant and author Danielle Kennedy has learned to meet this challenge, with help from a flexible, involved spouse (a former real estate salesperson turned boat captain) and their eight children. Here are Kennedy’s 17 top tips:

  1. Prioritize by not saying yes to all requests and learning to say no kindly but firmly. Example: “I’d love to help you out, but I already have a commitment. Let’s try again another time.” People appreciate honesty and sincerity.
  2. Eat well, exercise, and have regular checkups. You’ll have more energy, jump-start your endorphins, and be happier.
  3. Surround yourself with compassionate friends who understand your demands and won’t criticize your juggling act.
  4. Yield on expectations that require perfection of yourself, family, and colleagues. Example: The house needn’t always be spotless; every project needn’t be done perfectly, but try your best.
  5. Delegate tasks among family and coworkers. For example: A six-year-old can make her bed; a nine-year-old can make his lunch; colleagues can cover for you when you go on vacation.
  6. Cook a few meals in advance one day a week. Also prepare more servings than needed so that there are leftovers for another meal.
  7. If you have kids, work for a company whose management values family. If you’re the broker, make family values part of your company culture. Example: Don’t schedule a sales meeting at 5 p.m. when parents need to pick up children.
  8. If you can afford it, hire help around the house so that you have more time to spend with family and pursue favorite hobbies. Consider bringing on a babysitter, gardener, or cleaning service.
  9. Share tasks with colleagues and friends. Organize car pools and cooperatives for babysitting and food shopping.
  10. Schedule regular dates with yourself—quiet lunches, manicures—to smell the proverbial roses.
  11. Find a new passion or revisit an old one. Bake, golf, or play bridge.
  12. If you’re part of a couple, have a weekly date to maintain romance.
  13. Curtail spending by following a budget so that you don’t need to work excessively to pay bills. Two-career couples shouldn’t delude themselves that their combined checks allow them to spend more.
  14. Get and stay organized, which sets a good example for colleagues and family members. Set up a home command post where you keep your keys, bills, and other important papers.
  15. Keep routines going to maintain some normalcy even in the face of major snafus. Example: Continue driving the kids to their activities even if the kitchen remodel hits a snag and the contractor needs more of your time.
  16. Keep family life enjoyable by sharing activities. Bowl with your children, have dinner together (without the TV on), choose a movie everyone wants to see. Don’t let family life become boot camp.
  17. Praise yourself, family, and colleagues. They’ll return the favor.

Source: Danielle Kennedy, Danielle Kennedy Productions, Sun Valley, Idaho, and author of WorkingMoms.Calm: How Smart Women Balance Family & Career (Thomson South-Western, 2003). Thomson is a REALTOR VIP® Alliance Program partner.

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