Tanya Lavoie wanted to talk about that whole work/life/social media/everything else balance issue that so many of us are dealing with these days. I wrote a post awhile back about how to juggle the personal and the professional just in the online realm, but things get a lot more complicated when you start talking about your whole life. This topic seems to be surfacing a lot these days in the online world because of the rise of Google Plus. Even before that, my friends Ian Rountree and Nic Wirtz started HardRefresh.net in response to the onslaught of Social Media fatigue.
So what can we do about this problem? Well, I can only tell you what works for me, but it seems to work pretty well. It’s two tricks. One – allot segments of time that you want to dedicate to certain tasks. Two: try to set up a schedule, which can help you figure out where to fit in those allotted segments of time.
Units of Time
To tell the truth, I got this idea from a sweet little movie called About A Boy. Hugh Grant plays a character who is blindingly rich because he lives off of the royalties from a hit Christmas single his father wrote. Now instead of having the problem of too much to do, this character has too little to do. He has no obligations whatsoever. So, in order to divide up all of that time, he views all of his activities in units of time (I think each unit is 15 minutes long). He allows 2 units, for example, for getting his hair “carefully disheveled” on a regular basis.
In my life, some tasks are already assigned to units of time. I know I have to be at work from x time to y time. I have a time when I like to eat my meals. I have a time when I like to go to bed (though I seldom make it to bed by that time). But there are lots of other things that I can assign however I want. It’s important to do this because especially in the online world, just looking at the list of stuff you have to do can be extremely discouraging and quite overwhelming. Blogging is a great example of this. You sit down and you think, “Oh man, I have to write that, and I want to write about that,” and before you know it you have to move on to something else.
To avoid that kind of scenario, and to make the most of my time, I try to set a time unit for things. For example, instead of trying to post a certain number of posts for The Blog Library every day, I do my best to do two 15-minute units of work on it (once before I go to work and once during my lunch hour). If I can’t make it past 1 15-minute chunk, then oh well. If I can do more, great, but my ultimate goal is reaching those two 15-minute windows. Fifteen minutes seems pretty reasonable, but you can also get a lot done in 15 minutes if you know that you have that amount of time available.
Making a Schedule
Now I don’t mean making a schedule like Rain Man makes in the movie…Rain Man. But every day, I try to figure out when I can fit in units of time for certain things. For example, how much time do I want to spend chatting it up on Twitter after work, and when would it make the most sense to do that? Since my work day determines so much of my schedule during the week, I work my units of time around that.
There’s another really important reason I started lightly scheduling my day though, and that is that any one segment of life can really end up eating all of your time. Many of us have a hard time turning the “work” button off. Maybe you put a lot of pressure on yourself because you feel like you aren’t spending enough time with your kids or your spouse. Maybe you feel like social media is eating your brain.
I tend to jump into things full throttle, so when I started really working in the online world, it was easy for me to spend a LOT of time on it, to the point where I didn’t prioritize things like reading or exercising or just blobbing out (which is important to do every now and then). In these busy times, it’s really important to schedule time for people and things you love. Otherwise, they can disappear in the avalanche of everything else.
How do you do the balancing act? Did this help at all? Let’s talk about it!
Image by Santiago Masquelet. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/smasquelet