California State University Northridge

The Great Balancing Act

Priorities. We all have them, and we all have to learn how to balance them. The question is: how do we do that without taking on too much or mislabeling our priorities?

It’s easy to make too many things a priority and then have some of them fall through the cracks because we either gave some things more importance than they needed or we didn’t allow ourselves to balance our priorities in a healthy way.

I’ve found that by following a certain plan, I can balance my priorities in a healthy way so that I don’t spread myself too thin. The key to finding the right balance is done in steps.

The first one being establishing what your priorities are, then figuring out what working on these priorities looks like in your daily, weekly, or monthly schedule. Then, checking in with yourself on whether or not your plan is working and if you may need to adjust it.

Establishing your priorities may be the hardest part. We all have things that we enjoy in our lives, and things that simply have to get done as we are all, to different extents, responsible individuals.

It’s easy to want to label the things we enjoy such as our sports, entertainment and relationships as priorities, which is okay as long as they don’t trump other important necessities such as a job, family, or education. Establishing your priorities isn’t only about deciding what is and isn’t a priority, it’s about the order in which you stack those priorities. In not doing so, you defeat the purpose of balance and the essence of what a priority is.

Once you’ve figured out your priorities and their order of importance, you have to figure out where those priorities belong in your schedule/life. If you go to school and work, like most young adults do, you probably look at your weekly and monthly schedule quite often.

So if that’s the case, maybe you should consider evaluating the time you set apart for school and work each week in conjunction with your lesser priorities such as social engagements, and down time watching TV or scrolling through Instagram.

For example, if I have to work five days out of the week after school and it takes time away from completing my schoolwork, I’ll probably use most of my free time to work on my schoolwork rather than using my phone or going out.

Those things can be left for whatever time I have left once I’m done with my schoolwork. If you find you higher priorities taking a toll on your lesser ones, maybe you alternate the time you give to each.

If your friend or significant other has been feeling forgotten about or unimportant to you because you’re always working, then maybe set aside a few hours or a day just for them and commit yourself to focusing on your work the next day in order to keep both as priorities while maintaining a healthy balance. It’s part of standing back and rearranging or reevaluating your plan or schedule.

The final and another important part of maintaining balance amongst all your priorities and extra wants is being able to look at how you’ve arranged your priorities in your schedule and analyzing how they’ve been affecting each other, affecting your well-being and happiness. If you have to change the hierarchy of your priorities or how you integrate them into your schedule then do so in a way that will relieve stress from your life or add enjoyment to it.

We often get frustrated with our inability to fulfill or responsibilities and enjoy our other priorities without stressing out. But just remember that it doesn’t mean you have to remove some lesser priorities or give up. Just take a look at your current course of action and rearrange it in a way that will lessen your stress and make you feel more fulfilled and productive.

Results don’t come as easily as we’d like sometimes, but we can always find ways to balance the important things in life and still enjoy the good things. Remember to follow these steps and that it’s okay to have to change your schedule or plan in order to make yourself happy and balance your priorities.