As a parent with demanding full-time employment, a need to exercise regularly, and a laundry list of other responsibilities to myself and others, I struggled with finding a healthy balance between the time and energy I gave to my workplace responsibilities and many other “must” and “should” activities: parenting, being an attentive partner, keeping in touch with my parents and sisters. The list was very long.
In my life, one responsibility or another was not getting enough of my attention. And I was constantly running at my mental energy limit with no buffer to accommodate unanticipated situations.
Coaching others in time management, I would recommend using the technique of writing down what is most important in their lives and scheduling some time each week devoted to what they'd identified. To be doable, this requires some amount of “Life triage”: What are my unavoidable and urgent responsibilities? What is most important to me personally? What can be attended to occasionally? What must I be realistic about and let go of, at least at this time in my life?
I’m an organized person, so it was not difficult for me to put aside time before the beginning of each week, to review the activities of my life that were most important to me and to schedule space on my online calendar that ensured that what was most important (or urgent) received adequate time and energy.
I knew that I could not anticipate what surprise would pop up during the week, only that something new would bump off something else on my calendar. So, I built in buffers of free time. Life became much more fulfilling when, instead of deleting an activity that was important to me, I began rescheduling that time, using my buffer.