Basically, at the beginning of 2016, I was evaluating the past year, looking forward to the coming one, and thinking about how I could improve and also avoid making the same mistakes again. One thing that's been happening in my life since ABM started growing and my career started changing over the past few years is there are times I'm just too busy. I like staying productive, we do a lot of things at ABM, and I have a lot on my bucket list in life. I'm happy with a full life, in other words. But when life gets too full, I can start to feel super stressed, I miss out on time with friends and family, and I don't allow time for me to do my best work and to also reflect and think on how I can improve or if I'm happy with the direction things are headed. In a nutshell, I'm looking for the same thing probably most of you are looking for – a balanced and fulfilling life.
I want to work hard but not be a workaholic.
I want to spend time with my family and friends, but still achieve work and personal goals.
I want to be a good wife, daughter, friend, and business owner. And someday, mom (this is NOT an announcement, just something I think about).
I want time to reflect, chill, meditate, and hopefully come to realizations that help me be a better person.
Work / life balance is not something I'm an expert at, and I probably never will feel that I have it mastered. BUT, that doesn't mean I won't try. 🙂 I decided that one thing that could help me a lot is if I could view my entire year at once. My thinking was, if I can take a more big picture approach to my career and personal life, then maybe I can find ways to have a healthy, balanced amount of both.
So here's what I did: I took out a piece of paper and drew nine boxes for the coming nine months. Why nine? I think I just liked the symmetry of the 3×3, and it just so happened to be the last 9 months in the year. 🙂 I have this hanging near my computer at my desk, and I add to it constantly. It doesn't contain any "regular" activities. All my usual work tasks, or off-duty habits don't necessarily make it on to the calendar. Instead it's filled with big deadlines, work trips, vacation travel, work duties that fall outside of my usual stuff, and some personal events (like a friend's wedding, etc.). And unlike my calendar that closes like a book and buries plans in pages and pages of dates, it's clean, simple and at-a-glance. It's a quick macro view of my year.
My goal was to try to spread out my life better. If I knew I had a big work deadline one month, I tried not to schedule vacations or commit to other big personal things around that time (if I could). If Trey and I plan a vacation together, or a family trip pops up, I try not to overlap work stuff with that time frame.
Simple, right? But that's exactly the point and why it's more useful to me than any macro calendar you can buy. It's so simple I almost feel ashamed I wasn't doing this sooner! But it's been a HUGE help to me this year. I can't control every event or opportunity that comes my way, but I feel a lot more confident saying no when I can see that a particular month is already too full. I don't feel guilty or scared that I'm passing up a big opportunity, because I can see that I've already said yes to other things that I've deemed are important.
That's it! Paper, pen and other fun stuff like markers and stickers if you wanna make it cute. Once a month or two has passed, I update it to reflect the next nine months. If you wanted to make it twelve months at a time, that would certainly be pretty easy. I just decided I wanted a bit more room to write, so I left it at nine. But if you try this little trick, make it work for you – that's what matters! xx. Emma
P.S. The stickers and the cute print behind my calendar are from past Happy Mail kits.