I am writing this while on a camping road trip across Northern Ontario with a close friend. Currently, I am staring out the window at the rolling evergreen hills, colourful rocky cliff-faces and lakes around every corner. I am so grateful to have the space and time for this trip. Starting a new job, I’m grateful that I work for a company and boss that supports intentional disconnection from work. It feels like the right time to write about finding balance in my personal and professional life.
For me, finding balance means juggling the many facets of ourselves that sometimes require tightrope-walker attention. There are many versions of myself that authentically accurate- there is the sister, employee, daughter, teammate, girlfriend, and friend that will do anything for all these relationships at the drop of a hat. I believe in concerted effort in building all aspects and relationships of our lives. All relationships take effort and time, including the relationship with ourselves.
For me, balance means living with intention.
In all laneways of life, time and energy is currency. The days and weeks so easily turn into years and decades. Each day I hope to take time to create the life I want, a life that I’m proud of. Day by day, I hope to build a life filled with connection, and purpose and moments that I can look back on and smile. For me, this requires intentionally slowing down to recognize these moments while I am in them. To appreciate the good old days while you’re in them.
It is with this lens that I aim to build a career that I can be proud of, a job that I enjoy and finding balance in a workdays and weeks that seem to fly by.
Each week, I look at my work calendar and try to schedule in time between items to prepare or reflect. Whether that means, preparing for a meeting to ensure it is a good use of everyone’s time-currency, or debriefing with myself, consolidating my notes, and creating reminders for my action items so they don’t get lost in the ether. This intentional time for preparation and reflection is extremely helpful in my personal life as well. Taking the time to journal at the beginning/end of my day, or plan what my weekend leaving time for those non-scheduled items is key for me to have space to breathe. When my work or personal calendars are overcrowded, my mind is overwhelmed as a result.
I recommend finding the time of day that works best for your brain to be creative and thoughtful and then pockets of time that maybe you’re a little tired and do the tedious tasks that still need to get done. For me, I do my best work in the morning, so I try not to check emails that easily distract me with the new to-do list items instead of the project that I was hoping to dedicate time to. I’ll check for fire-alarm emails but if possible, I try to schedule a reminder and tackle it then.
Finding balance also means scheduling in time for learning, for seeking out other professional advice or research. It is easy to put your head down and do what you’ve always done or check of the list of the current project or program without thinking about change. Thoughtful change and innovation always start with first questioning the status quo. Personally, I try to ask myself, my mind and body on a semi regular basis, what aspects of my routine can be tweaked for the better. Let’s see if a lunchtime walk helps reinvigorate my brain after eating. Perhaps stretching when I refill my water bottle will rehydrate of my mind.