One of the challenges of balancing work and ministry is that you end up conducting everyday tasks in the public eye. While it would be wonderful if people remembered that people don’t tell their whole stories on social media, the reality is we’re more likely to find ourselves held to impossible standards by those we serve than offered grace when we need it the most. Sometimes our harshest critic is the person we see in the mirror first each morning. Regardless, the challenge to thrive in the sweet spot of your calling becomes more challenging when you don’t retain proper work and life balance.
While many will suggest strategies such as focusing 100% of your time at work when you’re at work and 100% of your time at home when your work day ends, that idealist strategy doesn’t work for most people. When your family, home, and office all overlap 100% of the time, it’s necessary to develop strategies that allow for work and life balance in a daily rhythm. When you have odd hours that don’t fit the traditional 9-5 work day, you may find it’s best to think outside the box and bring your family to work with you.
I have found that work and life balance is achievable most days with a little preparation and discipline to adhere to the schedule you set.
Here are my Strategies for Work and Life Balance:
Take Time for Meal Planning and Prep
While summer is easier on our meal prep, I prepare the majority of our dinners most of the year. Even if someone else takes care of the cooking, I’m still the one who does the most grocery shopping. It falls to me to make sure all the ingredients are available.
These days we’re feeding two high school-aged boys, myself and my husband. So we’re essentially feeding six most meals. I try to build in 1 or 2 days for leftovers into each weekly menu, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. It’s easier to have some meals to throw together quickly rather than to have to run to the grocery store. The boys also have been known to have a sandwich as a “snack” after dinner.
Regardless of what is on the menu, I’ve found that what works best for us right now is to have as much prepared ahead of time so that when dinner time arrives, we’re basically warming up some veggies in the microwave along with our main dish.
I’m keeping meals healthy, reasonably priced, and simple by:
- Planning ahead
- Prepping ahead on the weekend for meals during the week
- Writing out the menu, so everyone knows what to expect
- Utilizing grocery services to stay on track with my list and budget
- Including the whole family in the process
Another way I balance work and life in a daily rhythm is by prioritizing my health. This includes regular exercise, eating healthy, making sure to limit caffeine and sweets, and incorporating vitamins and essential oils into my daily routine.
My strategy is to put my workout clothes on as soon as I wake up. I hang my workout clothes on the bathroom hook the night before, so whether I’m planning to head out first thing in the morning or after an early morning meeting, I’m ready to go. Also, if I don’t have to change several outfits each day, I’m more likely to complete my workout.
Cleaning Through the Week
We used to spend a few hours cleaning the house and getting all the laundry sorted each weekend. Now, I take advantage of the fact that I’m home, and I take short breaks throughout the day to keep up on chores. This can make the weekdays seem a little task-heavy, but big picture, I’m spending 15 minutes or less cleaning each day. This strategy frees up the weekend cleaning marathon.
Apps for Work and Life Balance
We have a shared Google Calendar for the family. This includes all activities going on, including all practices, special events, doctor appointments, and anything else that’s going on. We get a daily email of school announcements. This is an easy way to ensure that anything I’ve missed through other communications is on our family calendar.
We’ve finally found the perfect way to make sure all the papers and receipts and documents are not lost and aren’t stored in email boxes. Google Drive has become organized storage for all those important receipts, emails with the information needed in the future, and photos. Using these steps, I’ve been able to send emails and documents to Google Drive without printing and storing things. Since the drive folders are shared, I also don’t have to remember where everything is!
Airtable houses our to-do list, digital checkbook, grocery list, and our shared content calendar. In addition, it syncs with Google Drive and Google Calendar. Having all our main shared lists in one app is really helpful.
Voxer is another app that helps me stay connected with both work and life. Sending a quick voice message allows me to stay connected to people and communicate clearly, which saves time. Rather than waiting for a voicemail I can click a button, leave my message and the recipient can respond when they have time.
Some days are better than others. However, I have an office. So, when my work day is done, I can close my laptop and leave the room. The time of day varies because I don’t work a steady 9-5, but each day once it’s closed, I’m done for the day. If I remember I need to do something the next day have a running list I can add it to.
I’ve also set phone notifications for my email and Slack to turn off at a certain point eliminating the temptation to answer the email that comes in late.
I’m a big fan of scheduling texts. When I remember at 6 am that I wanted to try to have lunch with a girlfriend this week, I’ll schedule a text to go out later that morning. They respond when they can, but I don’t need to continue to remember to send a text, and I don’t send something at a crazy time of the day.
In past years I’ve used the entire Powersheets system, and it has been a great option to track short and long-term goals. I don’t think I would have finished my book without using the system. The pages are well structured with check-in points and specific questions to think beyond the surface of life. Now, I use the Intentional Weekly Planner Notepad along with my personal block calendar strategy.
I’m also part of a mastermind group that meets monthly. We discuss where we are with goals and offer insights and encouragement to each other.
Ultimately, we all need to find the things that work for us. I’ve found that my family thrives with structure and routine. However, embracing working from home has still required my day to start at 6:30 through the week. As I’ve increased my workload, I’ve needed to protect my time for exercise and my time with God.
Regardless of the early start, our days run smoother, and we don’t forget as many things because we all know what to expect from week to week.
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