Have you ever wondered how to get the perfect work/life balance? And not just the right balance between working life and family life, but also giving the right amount of time to your hobbies and other interests or commitments?
I used to belong to a voluntary organisation where experienced members would advise the newer ones, ‘your family comes first, your work comes second and this voluntary activity comes third.’ Fine in theory, but I can remember more than one occasion when the local President missed a meeting at short notice because of family circumstances – and it wasn’t well received!
However, it highlighted some things for me about the whole issue of priorities. If you always give your time to your top priority, nothing else ever gets any time. There have to be times when you put the lower priority activities first, otherwise you’d never actually do them.
So the real skill is in planning your time and activities so that you never have to choose between your priorities in the moment. It means balancing your commitments so that over time, the important things get more of your time and attention and the less important things get less of your time.
In effect, that means you might have a priority for today that isn’t a priority for the week. Or a priority for the month that isn’t a priority for today. It sounds paradoxical, but actually it’s perfectly logical. If you had the same priorities all the time, you’d do the same things every day!
Ultimately, priorities are contextual. To avoid causing yourself stress, your priorities need to be aligned with your values and goals and you need to spend time on planning to get the right balance.