How to Balance Work-Life Priorities and Live in Harmony with Yourself (+ 21 planner ideas)
As creatives, entrepreneurs, and busy professionals, how to prioritise our individual needs to feel successful, happy, and calm, with the right work-life balance, is one of the biggest challenges of our time.
We are all striving for something; to be more successful, to have more freedom, to find more joy in life. And we think that by working hard, we will achieve these goals, only more often than not, most of us end up overworking at the expense of living a full and happy life.
Day-to-day, we’ve conditioned ourselves to push beyond our limits, working harder and longer in a desperate attempt to complete a never-ending list of tasks we’ve set for ourselves. With the pressure of perceived competition, from colleagues, society, but, mostly, ourselves. We put off that yoga class, cancel dinner plans with friends, and skip our spiritual needs entirely.
I fell into the work-all-hours-to-succeed mindset early on in my career, and again in entrepreneurship. Even when I wasn’t working, I’d still think about it, problem-solving items on my to-do list, or feeling guilty about my downtime chastising myself with, “money isn’t going to make itself.”
My type-A personality and old friend ‘worry’ overriding the reason for becoming self-employed in the first place — to live life on my terms.
After what feels like a lifetime of internal struggle, slowly, I’m waking up to the realisation that it doesn’t matter how hard I work if I haven’t cultivated a balanced approach to my life and a mindset capable of receiving the things I seek. It doesn’t matter what I do, I’ll never achieve the success, freedom, and happiness I desire.
Without adequate rest, and the ability to switch off and tune in to oneself, life becomes very unfulfilling indeed. It’s the same if you work a 9-5 job in a city office somewhere, or from a coffee shop in an exotic location – trust me, I’ve lived in both worlds.
Since becoming location independent three years ago, I haven’t been able to blame my work exhaustion on tiring commutes, unnecessary meetings, and too much pressure from my workplace. Any mental fatigue (lack of motivation, irritability, pessimism) and subsequent health problems (migraines, herniated disk, hip misalignment) I’ve suffered, are all a direct consequence of pushing myself too hard and living out of harmony with my whole self.
Now to counteract my tendency to overwork, I focus on creating harmony, integrating each of the elements that keep me physically, mentally, and spiritually fulfilled into my regular routines. After some trial and error, the structure I’ve found that best helps me to achieve this is through yearly, monthly, and daily printed planners.
Why printed and not digital planners? Through personal experience, I’ve found that I’m more creative, focused, and honest when I unplug and work with paper and pen. Plus, research shows that we’re 42% more likely to achieve goals that are written on paper, as opposed to typing on a screen.
Below are the categories I use to create harmony between work and life on a yearly, monthly, and daily basis. Plus, a description of how to use them to bring about wholeness and get more joy out of your life and work.
You may use these ideas to mock up planners of your own or download pre-made templates here for a small fee.
Trust me, the sooner you realise that it’s not enough to simply work on the practical elements of your profession to see success. That to get where you want to be, it’s highly likely that you’ll need to work on yourself at the same time and prioritise space in your schedule to do that, the sooner you’ll be living the life of your dreams.
Here’s to a harmonious life!
Projects — Potential
Set down the key projects you have planned for your profession this year. They could be new products or ideas, marketing campaigns, or a change in business model, perhaps. Then describe the potential difference that doing it will make to your life.
Do you have any money limitations you’d like to overcome or milestones you’d like to reach with sales, investments, or savings? Write down the numbers and any dates associated with them.
How do you plan to challenge yourself this year to improve some aspect of your intellectual life? Identify areas where you would benefit from developing a skill, overcoming a bad habit, or gaining more awareness to help fulfill your potential.
Who or what do you need to help you with where you’re going? Identify critical assets that will make a difference to your success then write down their names and the positive impact they’ll have.
Consider your health and overall wellbeing, identifying any areas where restlessness, stress, or discomfort prevent you from performing at your optimum potential at work or in life.
Who is missing from your network of friends or business associates that you need for inspiration, motivation or encouragement? Where will you find these people?
It’s usually easier to write down things we don’t want rather than the things we do. Start with habits you’d like to break and then flip them to the positive the other side. Scribble out the bad habits to leave you focused on the positive.
Goals for the month
What are the big things on your mind for the month? Get serious about what they are and what they mean to you in this section. Bring them to life by using colourful and imaginative descriptions, or draw a little doodle if it takes your fancy. Just make sure they feel real and meaningful to you, then share them with someone to ground the goal in reality.
The New Moon marks the beginning of the month and, with it, a fresh cycle of intentions ready to cast out into the universe. Find out where this falls every month and use it to create a ritual of intention-setting for the month. These can be more high-level than your goals and focus on a particular person, an aspect of yourself or resource that you’re looking to attract soon. Once you’ve set the intention, let it go.
30 days of
Remember those new habits we’re making? According to science, it takes 30 days to form a new habit, so use this space to keep track of those you’re trying to create.
Dates to remember
Kinda self-explanatory 😉
Here’s where you can write down any books you’d like to read, podcasts you’d like to listen to or videos and presentations you’d like to watch. Tuning into expert voices, or those with shared experiences helps to keep us inspired, motivated, and accountable to our goals.
A bit like goals but more focused on a specific thing that must get done that day to move a project or aspect of your business forward.
Do you need to make or keep any meetings with people in your network to ensure the priority gets done? You can also use this to keep track of daily personal appointments too.
Here’s where you can make a step by step list of actionable tasks to complete to achieve the daily priority. Tick things off your list when complete to feel the satisfaction of finishing something. And don’t overfill this section!
What are you grateful for today? Identify anything that’s made you smile, feel happy, or helped you in some way, big or small. By bringing awareness to what we have to be thankful for, we raise our vibration and attract more things to be happy about; it’s like magic. Depending on your preference, do it at the start or end of the day.
Plan 15 minutes to an hour of activity to get your heart rate pumping, stretch out, or build strength to keep your body fit and healthy. There are plenty of free exercise apps and routines on Youtube or go for a walk or to the gym.
Calm your mind for just 10 minutes a day, and you’ll see such a difference in your ability to de-stress and avoid distraction. I use a meditation app called Calm, which has changed my life; there are also other similar apps or free videos on the market for you to use.
Drink your water; it will keep you hydrated and able to concentrate better. Aim for eight medium glasses a day and tick them off after you’ve drunk each one.
Thought of the day
An excellent space for noting down any ideas that spring to mind throughout the day that you’d like to follow up on but don’t want to get distracted from the day’s tasks. You can also use it as a place to write down anything that’s inspired you or to set the tone for the day.
If you have any self-doubt or are trying to overcome a limiting belief or habit, it can be useful to write down words and phrases that counteract those critical voices. I can get a bit hung up on running out of time, so I use the daily affirmation “I have all the time I need to achieve my goals and fulfill my potential” to reframe my thoughts.
Do you have planner categories that help you to achieve better balance in your life and work? Drop them in a comment below, and let’s help each other to flourish by living in harmony with ourselves.