It is common to hear about people pursuing a work-life balance. There are many ways to get things out of balance. However, planning can help us get back to a balanced approach to nearly anything. There are no guarantees, but when we set ourselves on the right direction through thoughtful planning, it does improve our chances for success.
Balance Meals Through Planning
A perfect real-life example is our use of a food service. We were a typical young couple that desired regular meals cooked at home but fell short. Our meals tended to be the standard simple things like spaghetti, hamburger, tacos, and grilled chicken breasts. It was just too easy to not think about meals until we had to create them. That meant our default was “something simple to prepare” and our grocery shopping reflected it. Or maybe our meal choices reflected our grocery shopping.
We looked at the option of a food service that would allow us to skip big weekly grocery trips and instead get our non-perishables four months at a time. The planning part of this was a great gift. The way the service approached the food orders was to ask us what we ate and how often. We ignored our record and instead put together a schedule that included things we wanted. Thus, we said we wanted to have steaks once a month, stews occasionally, veggies a few times a week, etc. We placed our order by roughing out a meal plan for the next four months. Once the order arrived, we had that food holding us accountable. Our last minute approach to meals changed to one where we were more forward thinking and would plan days in advance.
Planning is a Form of Accountability
The great bonus you get when you plan is that there is a kind of accountability. Of course, the more solid the plan, the more accountability incurred. When a plan is merely a thought, there is almost no accountability. However, write that plan down, and you are more like to feel accountable for its execution. Better yet, tell others about your goals. That act adds more accountability. Thus, we get two things out of planning. We get accountability, and we get thoughtful consideration of our actions.
When we add those benefits together, we have a path to a balance in our life. Our schedule reflects our wants and desires. If we want to have our weekends off, then we need to plan to get our work done on weekdays. This may force us to plan things in ways not natural to us. Let’s look at chores as an example. When you want to keep your weekend open, then you are required to get the laundry done during the week. The lawn may have to be mowed as well. House cleaning and even dishes will need to be addressed in your weekday plans.
Fill “Empty” Time
When we don’t plan, those chores can quickly add up. Our desire for a free weekend gets swallowed up by laundry, dishes, yard work, and all those other things we did not plan for. On the other hand, when we plan, we have a set of tasks to accomplish within a time frame. In the example, we have to get our chores done during the week. This might force us to hold off on relaxing some nights or reduce our time doing trivial tasks. That is ok; we find ways to “kill time” when we don’t have a schedule. Why not replace the act of killing time with completing plans?
Wow, that means planning might even lead to better use of our time. Just as my family would have burgers more time than we wanted to due to lack of planning, many of us waste more time than we desire. Yes, I am simplifying life a lot, but when you plan, you have the option to focus on the things that are meaningful. However, do not take my word for it. Plan out your next week. Write down your plan. See how that approach works for you.