How can you find balance?

Everyone seems to be overwhelmed, late and losing it, writes Oliver Burkeman, so how do we change the way we think about the things we have to do?


How can you find balance?

Let me guess: you’re too busy. Between responsibilities at work, parenting or dating (or both), and stopping the house from looking as if an especially dusty bomb just exploded in it, most of us feel much too busy these days.

‘Always behind and always late, with one more thing and one more thing and one more thing to do before rushing out the door,’ in the words of Brigid Schulte, author of the recent book Overwhelmed: Work, Love And Play When No One Has The Time (Bloomsbury, £12.99).

So how do we go about finding balance again? We will outline some suggestions over the coming weeks in a series of short pieces on feeling overwhelmed, but in the mean time here are some thought-provoking questions to ask yourself:

  • What are you afraid would happen if you said ‘no’? Would others reject you or be angry with you? Would you be sacked or dumped?
  • What is one thought or question that might give you perspective when you’re feeling overwhelmed? For example: What’s truly important here? What can I focus on in the next 30 minutes?
  • Name a specific way you can experiment with saying ‘no’ to something you really don’t want to do but think you should.
  • How does being busy enhance your life? Does it give you a sense of purpose? A distraction from anxiety? A sense of accomplishment?
  • Imagine you are on your deathbed. Name five things that made your life worthwhile.
  • How much time and attention do you give these five things in your life today?
  • What five small things that drain you or make you feel overwhelmed could you delegate in the next five days?
  • What five small changes can you make in the next five days to spend more time doing the things that make your life worth living?

Photograph: iStock

More inspiration:

Sign up for our Life Labs Practical Wisdom online course How to Achieve Your Goals here. You can also try a free taster of the course here

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