Originally published Tuesday, 15 April 2014.
Yeah right! Some of you may be thinking. The elusive balanced life that many of us aspire to seems harder to achieve than ever before. We are balancing soccer practice, house cleaning, full-time jobs, family duties, friendships, church functions, and more. How do we manage our to-do lists while still finding a way to enjoy life?
I am a mother of three children. I am a wife, friend, sister, writer, counselor, chauffeur, dishwasher, and much more. And I know you answer to just as many roles in your own lives. Most of us are busier than ever! Here’s what I’ve learned about living a balanced life.
It is okay to say “no”. Whether it be business or personal, we are constantly bombarded with requests to add yet another thing to our list of daily activities. As the old saying goes, “Give the busiest man more to do. He'll always get it done.” Bosses want us to oversee additional projects. Coordinators ask us to volunteer a few extra hours at the shelter. Friends invite us to countless birthday parties. And none of those things are wrong. However, it is perfectly acceptable (and quite mature, I may add) to simply pray about what tasks should be on your to-do list today, this week, and so on.
Have fun. “Are you serious? I am barely managing my day much less squeezing in some fun!” I know. I've been there. Fun wasn't on my list of things to do. It was purely optional, so I chose not to have any! The trick is to have fun while you are accomplishing your daily tasks. It sounds simple, but far too many people have lost their joy in life. Re-learn how to enjoy the tasks for which God has assigned you, whatever your life's path. If you’ve been hired to sweep floors, do it with integrity and enjoy it. Sometimes that's as simple as completing household chores with your kids, while playing a counting game or “I spy”. Sometimes, it means you give yourself a little extra treat at work when you complete a file. When we are making a conscious decision to enjoy our days, we find that our tasks become far easier and surprisingly, we accomplish more, in less time.
Spend time with the Lord daily. Some of you are wondering how it is that you can possibly add Bible and prayer time to an already jam-packed schedule. I recently heard an interesting fact. Studies have found that what we think about during the first seven minutes of our day closely determine the outcome of the remainder of our day. If you awake energized and excited about what God has planned for you today, filled with gratitude for the things you have been afforded, then you are more likely to emit that to others. The opposite is also true. Even on my busiest days, if I can get up a few minutes before the family, sip a little coffee alone, and read my Bible, my mind is refreshed.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author of four books, including her latest release Peace and the Single Mom: 50 Moments of Calm in the Chaos. She is founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, and has appeared on countless radio and television programs. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.