Recently, I began working with a new client who feels overwhelmed by her varied life and uncertain of how to answer the question, “What do you do?”

She wears hats as a professional organizer, caretaker, musician, and actress, and she struggles to meet her needs in all these areas.

If this resonates with you, the prospect of organizing your life may feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Even if you are a multi-passionate person with lots of loves and interests, it is still possible to manage your time in a way in which all parts of yourself. Organizing your life around several roles takes attention and awareness, but with a few simple insights and time management tips, you can avoid burnout and prioritize self-care, especially when you play many roles.

The late time management guru, Stephen Covey, recommended that we organize our lives around the roles that we play.  Spend some time identifying the roles you currently play. Make a list. For example, your roles may include Parent/Partner, Community Member, Organizer, Musician, Caretaker, Creator (creating new work, theater pieces), and Marketer.  In addition to this, Covey suggested that we have one more role; he called this “Sharpening the Saw” (I call it self-care), and he recommended engaging in four self-care activities each week, one each in the Physical, Mental, Social, and Spiritual realms.

Our brains have a hard time holding onto more than seven pieces of information at a time, so when we play more than seven roles, we can feel scattered and disoriented.

Take a good look at your list. Ask yourself whether you want to let go of any of your current roles or create time for a new role in your life.  Maybe the volunteer work you thought you’d love is distracting from your role as a creator. Or maybe your role as a musician has become a burden.

If you’re having a difficult time narrowing down your list of roles, this is the moment to ask yourself for your truth and listen openly.

Here are some questions may be helpful in the process:

  • What is my central purpose in life, my big why?
  • If my purpose and vision were at the center of my life, how would I be spending my time?
  • If I only worked for thirty or thirty-five hours a week and the rest of my time was devoted to spending time with loved ones and enjoying life, how would I want to organize my life and spend my relatively short amount of work time each week?

As you examine your roles, you may discover that you play some roles by necessity, perhaps out of an understandable need to pay the bills.  Ask yourself with an open mind how you can wean yourself away from the roles you like less and organize your life around the roles you love.

Be honest and gentle with yourself as you work to limit your roles to seven, plus self-care.

Sometimes, your options are limited, and the process towards creating a life you love can take more time.  If this is the case for you, I invite you to explore with curiosity what you can do to love, or at least enjoy, the roles you are less excited to play.

Once you’ve recognized your seven primary roles, plus self-care, you can begin organizing your life around those roles.

At the beginning of every week, plan your time around your roles.  Ask yourself what is the most important thing you can do this week for each role, then look at your calendar and evaluate whether you have time to do each of these tasks.  If you do not have time for each of your roles, ask yourself what is most important and focus on the priorities.  If you notice yourself tabling one or two roles week after week, however, it may be time to reevaluate.

Every few months, take a couple of hours to reevaluate your purpose, vision, and needs for each of your roles so that you can keep your eyes, heart, and mind focused in the direction you want to be moving in each area of your life.

Life and the roles you play are constantly evolving. By taking the time every so often to revisit the roles you play, you can organize your life authentically and sustainably that reflects your callings.

What roles do you play? What roles do you want to play? If you’re having a tough time telling the difference and you’re ready to get clear about the life you want to live, I encourage you to learn more about life coaching and how it can help you find the balance you seek.

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