When striving to live a more balanced life, it is hard to know where to start. To-do lists, good intentions and activities spin around in our heads. When we’re doing one activity, we’re distracted and guilty because we think that maybe we should be doing something else.
Today, we’re going to talk about the idea of an “activity diary” or checklist.
An activity diary concentrates on the following areas…
- Caring for yourself
Striving for a balance in these areas makes for a healthy, productive day, week and month.
You can use this checklist a number of different ways.
Some people write down goals in each area for each day. Others find this approach too detailed and stressful. They simply make sure that they have done some sort of activity in each area each day.
Here’s an example of how the activity diary stretches us in positive directions: John felt like he’d had a good day. When he reviewed his day, he saw that he had cared for himself by taking a 20-minute walk at lunch. He had worked hard at his job and managed to play his favorite online game before dinner.
However, he noticed that he hadn’t connected with others during his day. It was 8:30 at night. He had been meaning to call a friend who he heard had been sick, but he had been putting it off. He realized that if he called his sick friend, he could check off the “connecting with others” box for the day. So he picked up the phone and reached his friend. They had a good conversation, and John felt really good about his day. The checklist motivated him to get out of his comfort zone by calling his sick friend, and a good day turned into a great day, full of balance and satisfaction.
Let’s review each of the action categories.
Caring for yourself
This includes getting exercise, eating healthy, treating illness and getting rest and sleep.
Caring for yourself is an essential element of mastering balance. Just pick one area where you need a little more attention. We all are coming from different places with self-care. If we are really struggling with depression, it might be hard for us to get out of bed and take a shower. Someone fighting depression might have “take a shower” as a goal. Someone else might be doing good in the areas of nutrition and exercise but hadn’t been to the dentist in five years. He would put on his list, “Book an appointment with dentist.” Things like that fit under caring for yourself.
Examples: Studying, chores, working
If we have a regular, full-time job, we most likely have this category covered. But remember it can motivate us to get out of our comfort zone. Perhaps we have a new skill we want to acquire at work or want to read a book on a topic that interests us. Maybe we’re not working as hard as we could. This would be an opportunity to identify areas in your work life that you could expand, simplify or delegate.
In terms of chores—let’s say we have some weeding that we have been putting off. Go ahead and put it on your checklist for Saturday under REACHING and revel in that sense of accomplishment you get when you’ve completed something difficult. That sense of accomplishment helps us achieve balance.
Connecting with others
This is something we need to do daily. Connecting with others helps us forget about our own struggles and can bring us great happiness.
Connecting with others can include our family, friends and associates in our community. Consider doing some volunteer work if you have the time and resources. If you’re looking for service opportunities in your community, a quick Internet search will turn up plenty of opportunities. Look for ways to serve locally before you volunteer to spend six months digging wells in South America. Start small and enjoy the feeling that giving service brings. I once volunteered to plant trees along a busy boulevard in my town. To this day, every time I pass by the tree that I helped to plant, I get a smile on my face. Giving service is an excellent way to connect with others.
As adults, we sometimes forget to play. What are some activities you find fun and bring you pleasure? Tennis? Hiking? Ultimate Frisbee? Lawn bowling? The list is endless. Make sure you have fun and add an element of play every day. This could be something simple like shooting baskets at the park, flying a kite or simply taking up a new sport. When I was young, I was a terrible swimmer and I hated it. A few years ago, I began to swim at the local recreation center, and now I love the feel of water rushing over my body, my pounding heart, exploding lungs and the soak in the hot tub after a few laps.
These categories are not mutually exclusive. Going for a bike ride with a friend can count as caring for self, connecting with others and playing all at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of multitasking.
I challenge you to download the checklist below. Give it a try for at least three weeks. Then, try incorporating it into your weekly calendar with the four areas highlighted—Caring for Self, Reaching, Connecting and Playing.
You’ll see your self-esteem increase and your personal satisfaction grow. As you work on these four areas for the upcoming three weeks you’ll know that you are on the path to finding balance and mastering your happiness.Click Here to Download Checklist