How To Balance Life and Get It All Done

This is a transcript of the podcast Distraction, your survival guide to our crazy-busy, ever-connected modern world hosted by Dr. Edward Hallowell, ADHD expert. Dr. Hallowell talks with a listener about two suggestions to help with work life balance in the age of distraction.

Mini Episode 13: Listener Question: How Do I Get It All Done?


DR. HALLOWELL: Hello, I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to today’s mini-distraction. Today we’re talking about what countless American’s struggle with every day, work life balance. Jennifer is a working mom who called us with a question. In today’s mini she shares her daily struggle.

Work Life Balance

Jennifer: I guess you could say my normal day is something along the lines of get the kids ready for school, they’re running late, get me ready for work, I’m running late, get to work, and just always feel like I’m trying to do the right thing for work and the right thing for kids. I got to call the pediatrician in the middle of the day. Then when I get home I have to make sure to tend to the kids’ needs, but got to check that email too. Always feeling like I can’t do 100% of either. It’s just disturbing and sort of distressing and I can’t quite get that balance.

DR. HALLOWELL: So you’re always feeling that you have more to do than time to do it?

Jennifer: Yeah.

DR. HALLOWELL: You’re feeling a lot of stress because of it?

Jennifer: Yeah, I do.

DR. HALLOWELL: Like I said, there’s hundreds of millions of people in your boat. Two very specific suggestions to get that work life balance.

Suggestion 1

Number one, delegate as much as you possibly can. Get the kids to help out as much as they can, get your spouse if you have one to help out as much as he can. If you can get a cleaning person, if you can get someone to pick up the dry cleaning, whatever the various chores are, if you can delegate, hire out. A cleaning person is really worth it if you can possibly afford someone to come in once a week. These ways of delegating can make a huge, huge, huge difference. A lot of people think no, I’ve got to do it myself, that’s a terrible goal.

Independence these days is impossible. It’s not a good goal. What you want to be is effectively interdependent. In other words, you give help, you get help. That’s the solution is to be effectively interdependent.

Suggestion 2

The other suggestion is not quite as concrete, but equally powerful. Try to get over your intent sense of I’ve got to be perfect. What you want to do is be good enough. Being perfect is a punishing goal. All it does is make you feel dissatisfied with who you are. I tell people just get your life well enough organized, you don’t have to be Martha Stewart. You just want to be well enough organized that disorganization doesn’t get in your way.

Set good enough to be your goal rather than to be perfect. Perfect is a standard no one can achieve, and all it does is make you feel inadequate day in and day out, which in turn reduces your performance because you’ve got a little poison going on in your system of feeling bad about how you’re doing. Those two suggestions; delegate, hire out whatever you can, and number two, try to reset that perfection bar so you set it at good enough. That’s not being an advocate of mediocrity, quite the opposite. It’s the way to peak performance is to accept that you can’t be perfect, you’ll just do your best.

Jennifer: Wow. Okay, that’s definitely something I’m going to have to work on. I certainly wouldn’t have labeled myself a perfectionist but I think you’re right.

DR. HALLOWELL: Thanks so much for your question.

Jennifer: Thank you so much for your help.

DR. HALLOWELL: Okay. Remember, you don’t have to accept all those calls or respond to that email right away. You can ask for help. You can hire some tasks out. Money spent on a house cleaner who comes every other week, for example, can make a big difference. Try to delegate, hire out, share, ask for help, so you don’t feel like you’re stuck doing everything by yourself. Particularly a lot of women feel it’s up to them to take care of everything. That’s really a recipe for disaster.

Closing Statements

Anyway, maybe you have a question or a suggestion for a show you’d like us to talk about. Record it on your smartphone and send it to [email protected]. Be sure to include your first name, and tell us where you’re from. Thanks for listening.

This is a transcript of the podcast Distraction, “Listener Question: How Do I Get It All Done?” Distraction is available on iTunes.


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