If you ever feel like you've got so much going on and that your life is completely out of balance, I hear you. I struggle with that too. But what does that word even mean? It’s something that we all strive for, yet I think it's almost impossible to find a balance with the amount of time you spend doing all of the different activities in your life. Instead of thinking about balancing your time, think about it this way.
There are three areas that I focus on whenever I feel a little bit overwhelmed. Jonathan Fields actually calls them the three buckets. It's really handy to imagine that you're carrying three buckets in your life. One is for your mind, one is for your body, and one is for connection. A really simple tool that you can use to check in with all areas of your life.
Here are a few things to know about the buckets:
1) They leak, so we have to make sure that we're constantly putting things in to fill those three areas.
2) You are only as full as your emptiest bucket. Think about an argument with a friend. Your relationship bucket takes a hit, but I bet your mind and body does also. It will be all you can think about, replaying the conversation a million times over. It will also likely affect your decisions about what you eat, how you exercise and how much sleep you get, which drains your body bucket.
3) You will never have 3 full buckets all of the time, and that's ok. If all 3 buckets have been empty for a while, maybe it’s time to reach out for help and tell someone that you trust.
4) If you don’t check in with the buckets regularly, you won’t know where they are leaking and you’ll end up wondering why you’re on the verge of a meltdown! Take time each day to stop, breathe, and ask yourself: how am I doing? What do I need? What bucket do I need to pay attention to? What one small action can I take to make my life easier?
4) The smallest actions can make big differences with how full your buckets are. One extra glass of water, one call to a friend, 1 hour extra sleep can make a huge impact on your wellbeing.
Keen to start using this bucket idea? Awesome! Here’s how to start.
Every week (I do this on Sunday), score each bucket out of 10 (10 being full, 0 being empty).
For the mind bucket, ask yourself: How easily are you able to manage your emotions to deal with stress? How motivated are you? How is your general mood and outlook on life?
For the body bucket, ask yourself: Are you free from pain? Do you get good sleep at night? How's your nutrition? How's your energy levels?
For the connection bucket, ask yourself: How are your relationships with your friends, your family, your school or university or work friends, your teammates, and of course the most important connection is with yourself.
Once you’ve got your scores, take a step back. Look at the big picture and figure out where your buckets are leaking. Remember, it’s ok to have empty buckets, they just might need a little more attention.
From here, you can create your action plan for the week. Instead of creating a to-do list of all of the things that you have to do in your life for the week, start with these three buckets.
Maybe it’s just one action for each bucket that you're going to do. To fill that mind bucket, you might commit to doing 10 minutes of mind training every day for the next week. To fill your body bucket, you might commit to eating really healthy foods for a week. Maybe to fill that connection bucket, you're going to text or call three friends that you feel like you need to reconnect with. These are really practical and simple actions that will make a big shift.
What you'll find over time is that of course your buckets are going to keep leaking, but because you are now aware of them, you will feel a lot more in control of your life than just going on autopilot. When you are going throughout your day and actually not putting attention where it really needs to be, life can seem so overwhelming. Start small!
If you want a simple template to do this exercise, I’ve created a free template that you can download here - linktr.ee/allaboutbalancenz