This morning I welcomed the sunrise while enjoying a fresh brewed cup of coffee goodness on my front porch. I love beginning each day listening to a symphony of squirrel chatter, raucous crows holding court, and Mourning Doves cooing their gentle song.  I can’t help but think about what a marked contrast this easy morning felt like compared to the life I lived only six short years ago.  I used to abhor waking up early each day to get ready for work. I was a night person and had no interest in the song of the first light. I allowed only enough time to get ready each day before flying out the door in a disgruntled huff.  I was overwhelmed by all I had  to do at work, and at home.  It felt like there was no time to get “IT” all done. I was trapped on the runaway train of my life.

Fast forward six years… I am grateful to honor the natural rhythms of the earth and my body. I create my schedule carefully, and refuse to be pulled in too many directions at one time. I am in the practice of being and doing. I know what allowing myself to be stretched too thin feels like.  It’s not healthy. It’s not any fun.

So how do we untangle our busy lives and create more time for sacred morning ritual? More time to relax and play? Before I answer my own question, I have a short story to share with you.

This week I met with a prospective life coaching client who feels overwhelmed with her responsibilities and obligations. From the outside looking in, she has it all. A great marriage, healthy children, and a career she loves. On the inside,  she is playing so many roles that she is being pulled apart at the seams to honor everyone in her life. The problem is that she isn’t showing up for herself! Did I mention that she worked every single day of her summer “Vacation”? She is stressed to the max and ready to make some healthy revisions to her lifestyle.

During our conversation I challenged her to imagine what an “Ideal Day” might look like and feel like for her.  I asked her to think about setting boundaries around her time. We discussed prioritizing like interests and meetings in blocks of time. I challenged her to practice unplugging from her professional life at the end of each day.

There is no magic pill to eliminate overbooked calendars and time crunches. You simply must re-prioritize your life. You must do the work to implement your ideal day. I remember living meeting to meeting, project to project, and collapsing at the end of the day in a bewildered heap of Shann in front of my television. I craved zoning out of my reality.  I have empathy for women caught  up in the daily grind of life. The good news is, work-life-balance is not a myth. It is a loyal dance from one experience to the next, and can be orchestrated on YOUR terms. It’s not about an even split of your time. It’s about the flow of your life.


Look at your current crazy maker calendar for the next month and start to take inventory of your time. Here’s what I do and recommend for a supportive at-a-glance work-life-balance system.  Beside each item on my to-do list and calendar, I add images that represent my activities.  A heart is for self-care / personal wellness and is next to my yoga practice, meditation, massage, swimming etc. A smiley face represents my family schedule and is next to special occasions, school related activities etc. A dollar sign denotes coaching appointments, book writing, product creation etc.  All of the areas that contribute to growing my life coaching business. A check mark represents daily tasks and errands like groceries and stop to the post office.

Look at your schedule as it is now and label each activity for the next week. Is your calendar out of balance? Are you looking at a sea of tasks or work related appointments with very little in place for self-care? Notice the projects, meetings and  tasks that can be revised, delegated or eliminated. Do you have business meetings spread all over the week that take you away from family and self-care?  Where can you add more time for short breaks? Where can you ask for support from your partner, friend or support staff?

Here are a few ideas to help you create a more balanced life schedule.

  • Schedule sacred ritual and self-care FIRST with a minimm of one item per day.
  • Eliminate scatter-shot professional meetings. Cluster your appointments over one or two days each week.
  • Whenever possible, choose only ONE business after-hours activity per week.
  • Do not answer business calls or emails after hours or while on vacation.
  • Walk away from groups, activities or commitments that have run their course and no longer serve you or your family.
  • Practice saying NO thanks to people who want you to give away your time.
  • DELEGATE as many task and errands as possible!

Ready to create a new and more liberated reality? One where you put yourself first instead of at the back of the line?

Give this suggestion a whirl:

Create a new calendar and  enter your personal priorities first. GASP! That’s right. Your Yoga class, body work and time for YOU is your priority and is always added FIRST. If you have a family, now is the time to add special occasions, school events and extracurricular activities. Next, plug in job related professional meetings and projects. Now look at your new masterpiece and thank yourself for getting your priorities straight! As you continue to practice your new reality, remember to guard your calendar vigilantly.

We all have the same amount of time to work with each day. The difference between those who are enjoying their precious lives and those who feel stuck on a runaway train is …

SELF RESPECT and the understanding that there is nothing is worth more than this day.

If your current pace of life feels like a runaway train, respect yourself enough to set new boundaries. You deserve to make choices that honor yourself and your loved ones on your own terms. I promise you will notice a big improvement. Your reward? You will experience more peace and joy in your precious life.


About Shann Vander Leek

Shann Vander Leek

Shann Vander Leek is an Award Winning Podcaster, Best Selling Author, Voice Over Talent, Podcast Coach, and Media Expert.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Arwen Jul 18, 2012, 5:18 pm

    NO MAGIC PILL? Dang it. I quit. 😀 Great adivce, Shann!

    • Shann Jul 19, 2012, 3:18 pm

      HA HA! Thanks Arwen.

  • Ana VL Jul 18, 2012, 6:30 pm

    Thanks Shann! I need to do this. I feel like I am always being pulled in different directions.

    Ana 🙂

    • Shann Jul 19, 2012, 3:19 pm

      Hey Ana, You are most welcome. Great to see you here!

  • Tanja @ Crystal Clarity Jul 18, 2012, 10:09 pm

    Love this post, Shann – I’ve done a few exercises where I envisage my average perfect day, and I’ve been good in the past with bringing aspects of that into my day-to-day life… BUT, with everything that’s been going on lately, it’s been a while since I’ve looked at that.

    Time to revisit it, methinks.

    Thanks for a great reminder


    • Shann Jul 19, 2012, 3:20 pm

      Hey Goddess, My pleasure. Thanks for your kindness.

  • Cassandra Jul 19, 2012, 7:35 pm

    I’m nodding my head to all of this. Great wisdom!

    • Shann Jul 20, 2012, 2:04 pm

      Thank you Cassandra!

  • Jodi Chapman Jul 20, 2012, 7:03 am

    This is such a great post, Shann – just what I needed reminding of today.
    Thank you for that.
    I’m definitely feeling the stress and overwhelm, and self care NEEDS to be put on the list. That being said, I did take several hours today to just chill, and it felt soooo good. Just what my body and my soul needed.
    Hugs and love to you!

    • Shann Jul 20, 2012, 2:06 pm

      Hey Jodi, Hooray! I love it when women respond to what they really need. Chill time is a gift!

  • Nancy Jul 22, 2012, 3:53 am

    Wonderful post, Shann! It’s sort of like that exercise where you’re supposed to fit all the rocks in the jar. If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you won’t get them in at all. Sad how many of us need to be reminded that self-care and family are the big rocks, not the after-hours work email.

  • Linda Joy Aug 8, 2012, 2:43 pm

    Shann, what a timely message as I can so relate to this post. Like you I’ve come along way in putting myself on my “To Be” list but there are busy times that I do forget and I love your tip “Create a new calendar and enter your personal priorities first.”

    Such great advice because as women we tend to fill out calendars with everyone else’s needs first: family, business, house, community until there is no time left for us.

    Thanks for being a guiding inspiration to us all.