While I'm back in Fuerteventura working on my blog, I've put some effort into embracing a coaching concept for work life balance introduced to me by the inspiring Naomi Jane from A Life Less Ordinary Wanted - the 'ideal day'. The idea is super simple ... you design your ideal day to create the life you want - sounds too easy right?! Maybe so, but it can definitely be a step in the direction you want go... wherever you are in exploring your plans!
Now anyone that has had the pleasure of seeing me before about 10am (blurgh) will know I'm NOT a morning person ... I'm just not. Even if I go to bed at 9pm and get a solid 10 hours shut eye, come 7am when the alarm goes off, my sloth-like state is firmly in place. I massively envy those people who skip out of bed at 5.30am and have achieved a day's work before breakfast, but that's just not me ... and nor does it necessarily have to be.
The ideal day concept is about prioritising those beliefs, values and experiences (and in my case sleep!) that are important to you and designing the perfect 'average' day around them. It's not about saying every day is going to spent in a spa drinking prosecco (I wish!) while you don't lift a finger, but rather how you can design your ideal day to create the right balance of work, exercise, interests, relaxing and time with your friends and family. And let's face it ... in a world where we are constantly connected, where we take work home, and where we are stressed to s**t, balance in life can only be a good thing!
So ask yourself, what might your ideal day look like if you could choose?
- Where do you live?
- What time do you get up?
- What do you eat for breakfast?
- What do you do for work? Are you in an office, at home, or working remotely?
- Do you work for yourself or for someone else?
- How do you spend the morning? What do you achieve?
- When do you exercise?
- How and when do you see your friends?
- Where do you eat dinner?
- And so on and so on ...
Of course, not all of this might be attainable right now. You probably have commitments (both work and personal) to other people and s**t happens, so often plans go out the window. However since I wrote my design for an ideal day almost a year ago, I have been taking steps to create the life I want and seeing progress. And that means you can too!
For me that means getting up a little later. I've had to stop using blackout blinds though, as I was in danger of staying in my nest all day! It means taking the time to wake up, enjoy my morning coffee (well 3 of them) and prioritising eating a decent breakfast. Then I try to get outside in the sunshine and get active by going for a walk, jog or cycle and so by the time I'm ready to sit at my laptop, I feel really good about myself and can focus on work.
I've taken the plunge to work for myself, but I get a bit distracted at home ... I mean who wants to look the washing up sat there begging to be done!? So I decamp to a little coffee shop, order my cortado and crack on with a little to-do list. Another tip - someone once told me that if all of you who are at work right now did just 3 meaty tasks and then went home, you would be more productive than the vast majority of the workforce! I've decided that's true ... fact.
I work on whatever I'm doing and try not to get distracted by Instagram... oops. Then often before I know it, the time is suddenly 4pm and I allow myself a little break. A lot of the time, I'm very lucky to be about 5 minutes away from the beach, so I take myself off for an hour or so to get some fresh air and read my book, before heading home to work a bit more into the evening, cook or see my friends. Or if I'm in the UK I might go out and about for a bit to break up the day.
Evidently, not every day ends up like I plan it, but this structure is starting to become the skeleton of a new routine where I can get more done AND have more fun! And that's very simply because it's based around what suits me and what is important to me. The whole point is you get choose - it's your life!
Now I'm fully aware you might be reading this sat at your desk (avoiding your boss) and thinking well it's alright for her, she works for herself and lives by the beach half the time!
And hands-up you'd be right ... only that wasn't always the case! Four years ago I worked in a portacabin in Leeds, was about as far from the beach as is possible in the UK, and the excitement of my day was often picking up a 'dine in for 2' (for myself!) from M&S.
It has taken hard work and a fair few tears to get to where I am right now, but I really believe that if you approach change practically, you can work towards the future you're dreaming about.
Depending on what you want to achieve, maybe as a first step you could ask about working flexi-hours in your job; perhaps remote or home working is an option; 4 longer days instead of 5? Could you volunteer to gain experience in a new sector or dabble with a business idea in the evenings and weekend? It might even just be as simple as getting a night off cooking for your family once a week, so you can try a new hobby!
Whatever it is, why not think about what floats your boat, when you're most happy and what elements might go into your design for your ideal day. Jot them on a piece of paper or in your notebook and start by doing just one thing today to work towards it. Before you know it, your ideal day might become an ideal week and you'll be well on the way to create the life you want.
Let me know how you get on!