Use Your Words: Finding the Work/Life Balance

'balance scale' photo (c) 2011, winnifredxoxo - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Well, somehow I got through another Use Your Words show with a throat that is absolutely killing me! So if I sounded funny, forgive me.

But today’s show was inspired by an email I received from Lisa, who said,

“how do you find the time for everything? How do you balance your work and your family? How do you figure out how to find time to market? I just feel like I never get anything done.”

I so feel your pain, Lisa. And so you can listen to the show right here. But here’s a synopsis for the rest of you:

1. Stop Apologizing for Your Ministry

When I started speaking and writing, I felt like it was something I was doing for me–stoking my own ego, so to speak. Therefore, I couldn’t take any time away from my daughters, or my home, or my marriage, or I was somehow cheating. I was being selfish. So the ministry came last. I had to make sure I was SuperMommy before I could go on the computer.

Stop it. If God is calling you to ministry, He wants you to take some time. You don’t have to apologize. You don’t have to compensate. You don’t have to work four times as hard in every other area of your life to get “permission” to do ministry. Ask for help, explain to your mate what you feel is your calling, talk to your friends about it, and stop feeling guilty.

2. Stop Apologizing to Yourself

But if we’re not feeling guilty for letting everyone else down, we often feel guilty for letting ourselves down. I should be accomplishing so much more, we think. I should be trying harder. I should be further ahead.

No. You do what you can, when you can. When my kids were young, I only had time to work while they napped. My ministry grew slowly. When they were older, I did what I could. I didn’t begin blogging or using social media until 2008, when they were able to do most of their homeschooling independently (they were 11 and 13 at the time). God may be calling you to something, but it may be something that grows slowly, in different stages of your life. That’s okay. Even in the beginning years, when you are busy with little ones, or in years when you’re busy taking care of older relatives, He’s still grooming you. He’s giving you great stories to tell one day! He’s giving you life experience. You can still read and learn and pray, even if you don’t do as much speaking now. That’s all right.

3. Stop Feeling Guilty About Not Keeping a Schedule

I used to feel guilty about not getting up at 6:30 to start my day off right. I have finally come to peace with the fact that I’m not a morning person. I often don’t go to sleep until 11:30 or midnight, so I”ll spend some “time” with my husband early in the evening, say from 10-11, and then he’ll go to sleep while I’m on my iPad until midnight, lying in bed beside him. That’s okay. I’m getting work done at night.

I also used to feel guilty because I read all these productivity magazine articles that said that I was supposed to have “work hours”. I tried that. It never worked. And I felt horrible about it. I tried working from 10-12, thinking that then I would get stuff done. But then we’d have doctor’s appointments, or Katie would need help with math, and I’d end up resenting he for it.

You need to do what works for you. I start a timer at the beginning of the day, and try to work for 2 1/2 hours on my big projects. I hit start, and get to work. When an interruption comes, I hit stop. And then when I sit back down, I hit start again. So over the day I’m trying to get to 2 1/2 hours. When I do get there, I stop. I go make dinner, or I relax, or I do something else.

I find working for 2 1/2 hours less stressful than saying, “I need to get this done today”, because then if you don’t get it doen you feel guilty. Instead, I do what I can in the hours that I have decided are reasonable.

One caveat: this doesn’t work well when you have small children. If you’re constantly trying to “snatch” time when there are preschoolers underfoot, you’ll end up resenting them because they’re always interrupting you. It’s better in that case to have time at night, when your husband has them, or to trade baby-sitting time with friends, or to work when they nap or when they watch a video (we used to save movies for when Mommy needed to work).

4. Figure out your main goal for the month

We all have endless to do lists on what we need to do to get our speaking ministry going. I need a better website. I need a Facebook page. I need to write my talk for the retreat. I need to send out my newsletter. I need to do this. Stop it. Just stop it. If you think in terms of your to-do list, you’ll never feel to done. You’ll always feel like you haven’t accomplished anything because there is always more to do.

Instead, think in terms of one or two big projects you want to work on this month. Maybe it’s getting an ebook together, or cold calling churches to book a speaking tour. Figure out your main goals (and if you have trouble focusing, my webinar, Treating Speaking Like a Business, gives you an amazing tool to figure out what is most useful for you to concentrate on, and what will most help your ministry). Then you’re focused, and the other stuff can get done later. You’ve taken care of the importan tthings.

Do these four things, and you’ll stop feeling so guilty! So listen in if you missed the show. And be sure to check out my webinar, Treating Speaking Like a Business!

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