May 4, 2015

Sponsored Giveaway: Working on Balance and Not Sweating the Small Stuff

On Friday, I led a women’s book club for my firm where we read The Confidence Code, by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. I had already read the book before, but like Lean In, it’s the kind of book you can read again and again and get new insights each time based on where you are in your life. The discussion was outstanding, and also really thought-provoking. For example, we talked about the relationship between self-esteem and confidence, and whether they go together or if you can have one without the other. One of the fun and personal parts of our discussion was around what kind of confidence we have when we go on a first date – it was a great way for everyone to open up and feel closer!

While the book is intended for both males and females, it does highlight the gender differences in confidence levels and behavior. I hate to refer to these differences as “the gender wars”, since I don’t believe that the only way for one gender to succeed is at the expense of another. However, I do think that men and women are very different in the workplace, and it’s important to recognize those differences rather than trying to get one group to be more like the other. (See: women wearing the huge shoulder pad pantsuits in the 80s.)

Balance Bar recently sent me some other interesting statistics on differences between how men and women find balance in their time. In a survey as part of their new Balance Project program, they found that 70% of male respondents indicate that they are more likely to feel balanced, while only 63% of women indicate the same. I didn’t find that differential to be huge, but I did think the reason why was interesting: men were more likely to say that they found balance through “staying calm”, and the Balance Project suggests that women “should take the idea of “don’t sweat the small stuff” to heart. In nearly every area tested, women are more likely than men to admit something has a significant impact on throwing them off balance, including finances, sleep, health, and family.”

With the idea of “not sweating the small stuff” in mind, I spent this weekend trying to be a little less structured and a little more carefree – certainly not my usual type A modus operandi! For once, I didn’t plan my schedule  ahead of time, but instead blocked off almost the entire weekend to get stuff done around my house. Honestly, part of the reason I am such an activity planner is that I’m afraid if I don’t, I won’t have anyone to hang out with and I’ll get lonely. But this weekend, even though I had zero plans going into it, I ended up getting to hang out (separately) with five of my best friends… how amazing is that?! I can’t believe that with everyone’s busy schedules I was still able to get some quality time in by being spontaneous… maybe this little experiment shows me that it’s time to rethink how I balance my calendar.

Friday night after my book club, I stopped to do a few errands on the way home, then made dinner and went to bed early… I was exhausted! On Saturday morning, I was up really early (5am) and was able to get a lot done on the computer before heading out for my first Home Depot trip of the weekend once they opened at 6am. One errand I had done on Friday night was buying a lawnmower on Craigslist (from a guy in my neighborhood for only $40!) – so Saturday morning, once 8am hit, it was mowing time! Adam takes incredible care of his lawn, and had honestly gotten me kind of scared that my neighbors were hating me before meeting me because my yard was a disaster zone. The last thing I want is to be the one on the block that everyone wishes would move! Now, I still haven’t been able to take care of all the dandelions yet, but at least it’s mowed and (mostly) green and not totally embarrassing.

Laura with Lawnmower
My friend Elizabeth arrived at my house just when I was finishing up mowing, and snapped this “after” pic for me! We then spent the morning shopping at my neighborhood garage sale, where I picked up a Gazelle exercise machine ($40) and a waffle iron ($1). #Necessities

And then just when she needed to head out for the afternoon, my friend Heather called to see what I was up to. She came over to my house and we hung out for a bit, then we went down to Westminster to attend an open house, since she’s in the market to buy. I had recommended my fabulous realtor, Jill, to her, so that also meant a nice chance to hang out with Jill a bit for the afternoon while the three of us debated the merits of golf course townhouses vs low-rise condos. And then after we all parted ways, my friend Caitlin texted me that she was going to a movie at the theater right down the street – so I invited her and her husband over for dinner after. I just couldn’t believe how well it had all worked out for us to hang out without advance planning!

But after all that friend time on Sunday, I definitely had a lot still on my house to-do list, so I shied off plans with others so I could focus on GSD. I spent most of the morning continuing with lawn care and spraying weed-and-feed chemicals all around. (I know it’s so gross to have to use chemicals on my lawn, but I am vowing that once I get it cleaned up from its current neglected state, I will maintain it and be able to use more natural treatments going forward.) So after I showered to hopefully rid my body of any chemicals, I had a little break in my day and went to check my email… and saw my friend Kelly’s note that she had gone biking with her husband but had an injury, so he was biking home and then coming back for her. While I certainly wasn’t happy she was hurt (and luckily it was just knee soreness and not anything serious), I was excited to have the chance to come pick her up, drive her home, and get some quality time chatting with her over a cup of tea 🙂 The perfect ending to a great weekend, and with that, I had managed to check off seeing most of my close friends without any planning! Maybe I need to try having a no-plans weekend more often.

Balance Bar on Bear Mountain
Although my no-plans weekend didn’t allow me to time to go for a hike like last weekend… next time!

Part of why I was excited to partner with Balance Bar and support the Balance Project is that finding balance is something I’m really passionate about and can definitely relate to. Finding balance has always been a major challenge in my life. (Which certainly isn’t unique to me – researchers found that only 14% of Americans report that they always feel balanced, even though 98% believe achieving and maintaining balance in their life is important.) I love when I get compliments from friends on how I am able to balance my life across a busy career, my blog, and my personal commitments (thanks, Heather!), because it makes me feel like I am “having it all” – but I definitely don’t feel like I have it all figured out, and there are times that my life is really out of balance. So, I’m really excited to partner with The Balance Project this year to continue discussions of how to find Balance in your life.

Balance Bar Infographic
Click to enlarge

As part of The Balance Project, spokesperson Gabby Reece is blogging her tips for finding balance – and I thought her post on A Life With Balance was definitely worth a read. Gabby is presumably so busy that I feel silly even complaining about what’s on my plate! I especially liked her advice on not multitasking and doing one thing at a time – that’s something I’m really terrible at and it’s been gotten me into a lot of trouble lately. I still need to figure out exactly how to achieve single-tasking, but at least I’ve pinpointed the problem so I know what to work on.

Balance Bar has generously offered to give away a prize pack of Balance Bars, an iPhone card holder, a notepad and a cute Balance Bar tote bag to one lucky reader. If you’re reading this in Feedly/Bloglovin’/email, you’ll need to click through to enter. Check out the Rafflecopter widget below, and to enter, leave a comment telling me if you’re spontaneous or a planner, and your b est tips for finding balance between all your obligations. The contest will run through Monday May 11th at 12am MT, at which time a winner will be chosen by random drawing; the winner will have one week to claim their prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: Balance Bar provided me with a prize pack just like the winner of this giveaway will receive, but I received no other compensation for this post, nor was I pressured to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own, and in my own words 🙂


15 thoughts on “Sponsored Giveaway: Working on Balance and Not Sweating the Small Stuff”

  1. I like to plan just about everything ahead, especially my running schedule. I’m not afraid to deviate if things come up but it’s easier to hold myself to the training. I sometimes have to sleep less in order to fit everything in a day’s time!

  2. I am a planner and I try to find balance by scheduling events and every now and then being spontaneous

  3. I try to be a little bit of both–I’m a planner by nature, but I’m trying to be more spontaneous, especially in making spur of the moment plans with friends, or in trying to be flexible when things don’t go quite according to plan.

  4. I am most definitely a planner. I like to know what my schedule is a head of time so I can plan around other peoples availability.

  5. I am a planner for everything. I definitely focus too many things around the time. Like not having my watch on is difficult. I am still learning balancing spontaneous with planning.

  6. I’m a big planner, but on the rare occasion that I have a free weekend, I try to leave it open for spontaneity!

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