Getting It All Done-How Much is too Much?
“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” Jim Rohn
Thursday, June 15, 2017
by: Robin Cole, Associate Executive Director, NARCA-The National Creditors Bar Association

Section: WILLed Q2 2017 (Please click on article title to read full article)

One of my college roommates’ fathers was a citrus grower. When there was the threat of a freeze, he would offer us--poor college students--a home cooked meal in exchange for our pulling a different kind of all-nighter. We would spend the night in the groves, keeping the smudge pots lit so that the trees wouldn’t freeze and damage the crop. While we were in the groves, he would remind us that “prior planning prevents piss poor performance,” to encourage us to stay in college and not become citrus growers. That bit of advice has served me well as I have attempted to maintain the elusive work-life balance.
Figuring out how to maintain a work-life balance is an individual search. What works for one person, may not work for another. For me, one thing that I have found helpful is realizing and playing to my strengths. I know that I can organize and rally the troops, stay focused and driven in spite of distractions, write and talk with anyone, pare down big projects to simple steps, make decisions, and visualize the big picture.
I also came to the realization that my time and energy are limited resources. It’s vital to me to be able to choose how and where to spend my time and energy, before someone else does. For me, I prefer having some quiet time in the morning before everyone else’s day has begun, both at home and the office, so I plan that time accordingly. If I have those few moments to myself in the morning, it grounds me for the day ahead. At home and on travel, my early morning routine includes 5-10 minutes of yoga, some reflective reading and a good breakfast (including coffee!), and yes, I am up before everyone else. Likewise, at the office, I find that if I have my day planned and focused, on paper, I am able to accomplish much more. Just like at home, I arrive before some of my colleagues and the first 1-2 hours of each day are my “Power Hour.” I spend that time on my top three “must-do’s” for that day. To do that, I ignore email during that time. What? Yes, you read that right. I don’t always get all three items completed during that time but I certainly make a significant dent in the work, and the urgency is subsided. It’s a great way to start my day.
For me, I prefer having some quiet time in the morning before everyone else’s day has begun

Planning out my day in this fashion makes it easier for me to say no to requests, without guilt, when I already have my priorities and tasks in place and planned out for the day. There are always distractions and urgent requests that sometimes need to take precedence over my plan, but for the ones that don’t, saying “No” is a complete sentence.
In my personal life, I make sure to care for myself by eating fruits/veggies, lean proteins, limiting sweets and staying hydrated; getting some fresh air, sunshine and exercise; flexing my spiritual muscles and volunteering; maintaining relationships and some pampering. I have a standing date the first Wednesday of each month with a dear friend for lunch and girl talk. I have standing appointments with my hairstylist and nail tech each month so that I don’t have to think about scheduling. I volunteer the first Saturday of each month at the local food bank and teach Sunday school the third Sunday of each month. If it’s already on my schedule, it’s automatic and I don’t have to spend time thinking about it or scheduling around an already full calendar. I also don’t get to the end of the year and think, “I didn’t volunteer like I wanted to.”
Organizing home life is easier said than done with children at home. I say, “Enjoy the mess while you can”; it does end and that time doesn’t come back. But, you can add some simple rituals and traditions into your lives that you and your children will both cherish. When my girls were little, we would have dinner every Sunday in the dining room. It was a big deal! It didn’t matter if it was a home cooked meal or take-out, they knew it was special because we had set that time aside to eat in the dining room instead of our kitchen table. Sundays have always been family day for us. I made a habit early on of not doing errands or household chores on Sundays so that we could have downtime for whatever we decided to do. And by the way, hiring a cleaning service and a handyman are cheaper than therapy and divorce!
I leave you with these parting thoughts. Make time for the people and things that are important to you. It is ok to say no to a commitment if you cannot be fully engaged in it. And lastly, take care of yourself and don’t overbook your time and energy because they are limited resources. Take a tip from the flight attendants we all encounter during travel, “Breathe through the mask first and then help others around you. If you aren’t breathing, you are no help to others.” Good advice… Self-care is not selfish!
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