Travel confession – I am not a round the world traveler and I never will be. I like backpacking on a budget. Spending months on the road exploring the world sounds like a fabulous idea but I don’t have any plans to do it. Yet I love to travel and love to write about travel. Yet my life may be more hectic than many who travel for months at a time.
One of the most common questions I get – “how do you manage to balance all the things in your life and write as much as you do?” I write about travel, on average, 5 days a week. I also have a full time job, a wife, 2 boys ages 3 and under, and various other projects. I also volunteer my time as a counselor about once a week and have duties at home. On top of that, I spend lots of time reading, researching, and engaging others about travel.
Yet I look at my life and the chaos that it is (much of my own doing) and think to myself “if people only knew how horrible I am with my time, effort, and focus.” I could actually get a LOT more done than what I do. However, enough people have asked me how I get all of this done that I was inspired to write about it.
WARNING: Asking me to write about how to balance life and get things done is like asking Elmer Fudd to be your speech therapist. So let’s look at the Elmer Fudd approach on how to balance life, travel, work, and family.
Elmer Fudd’s guide to a balanced life
1. Don’t travel
This is one of the keys to Elmer Fudd’s guide to a balanced life. If you want to write about travel, the key is not to travel. It costs a lot of time, money, and resources. If you have a family, bonding and connecting with your family on vacation or by exploring new places is a waste of time. And if you are stressed out and need a break, read a book rather than travel. You get much more accomplished this way.
2. Be disorganized
Not knowing whether you are coming or going is a good thing. When you can’t manage your time and can’t stay focused, disorganization comes naturally. This allows for more spontaneous moods of creativity where you aren’t bound by a schedule or by planning ahead.
3. Do whatever you feel like doing
Feelings are the best guides for our lives. When we do things based on what we feel, responsibility may suffer but we know that whatever we are doing at the moment will be the thing we care most about right now. When you let feelings be your guide, I am sure you will get the bills paid, spend time with loved ones, make some money, and accomplish what you want. Feelings can’t let you down as they take into account all aspects of life and never deceive, mislead, or take you in the wrong direction.
4. Focus on success now
When you have a lot on your plate, having a lot of success now will give you time later to focus on other things in life like family, traveling, etc. When it’s possible, work so you can to make as much money as you can now. There will be time for all that other stuff later.
This is sound advice from a cartoon hunter who could never kill anything, was single and insecure, had a lisp, and couldn’t even pronounce the word ‘rabbit’.
The truth is, I can get a lot of things done but I do feel a bit like Elmer Fudd sometimes. However, there is so much more that I could do. The most important thing for balancing all that you have going on in life is your priorities. So here’s may attempt to answer the question, lie to you to make you think I have it all together, and give you sound advice that will help you (and me) lead a balanced life.
How to find balance in life (work, family, commitments, and travel)
1. Set priorities in life and stick to them
The only way to balance all that you have going on in life is by knowing what is important and in what order. When life gets messy and busy, you will be able to focus on the things that matter most even if it means sacrificing or saying ‘no’ to other things.
2. Organize your time
Once you have set your priorities, you can organize your day around your priorities. For me, the most important thing in my life is family. Most days, I get up early so I can get home from work early. When I get home, I spend time with family. At night (and sometimes during the day), I write. When life is really hectic, organize your schedule into chunks of time so that you can get things accomplished and focus on your most important priorities.
3. Make sacrifices
When you make priorities in life and organize your time, there are some things you just aren’t able to do. By knowing what is important to you, you can focus on the things that matter and sacrifice the things that don’t make your list of priorities. It’s not always easy but it is necessary.
For me, I sacrifice three things – sleep, sleep, and TV. I am sleep deprived many days (that actually goes back to #2) because I have so much I want to get done (and don’t always organize my time very well). I also sacrifice some time I could spend watching TV or going out so I can focus on the things that matter – spending time with family and writing.
4. Multitask (when you can)
If you can get two things done at the same time, do it (for me, that is often work and writing). However, never sacrifice those things at the top of your list in order to do something else that is a much lower priority. Why? The most important thing will not be done at your best. Basic rule of thumb – multitask on things that focus on tasks, not relationships.
5. Never neglect relationships
No matter how much you have to get done, always evaluate the things you do by how it affects other people. If you become so focused on work, activities, or schedules that it affects the relationships that matter most in your life, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. If you have people in your life that matter (and for many, relationships are the top priority), make sure that other things don’t allow you to neglect those people. For me, the time I spend with my family when I get home is the most important part of my day.
Travel is important for many reasons. Travel gives you time to connect with the people you care about. You don’t have to go far to enjoy new places, adventures, or bonding time with loved ones. Refresh your mind, change your perspective, learn something new, and make a difference in the world. The lives that are changed the most through your travels might be your own.
Do I do all of these things? Yes and no. At times, I have focused my life in such a way that I’ve been able to accomplish things and make the people in my life the most important thing. Other times, I fail miserably.
What’s my best advice for a balanced life? No matter what you seek to accomplish in life, it is the people in your life that matter most. When all else fails, remember that and your life will be balanced, give you purpose, and fill you with joy!
Elmer Fudd (Flickr)