Balancing Multiple Roles

Have you ever stopped to think about how many roles you play in your life? Roles within your personal life and also in the professional realm? Perhaps you are a daughter, sister, granddaughter, wife, mother, aunt… or a son, brother, grandson, husband, father, uncle, cousin… friend, godparent, and the list goes on... And that’s just in your personal life. What about a work? Most of us have jobs where we play multiple roles each day. For instance, not long ago, I was a hospital clinician, a researcher on an NIH funded study, and a supervisor to clinical psychology doctoral students doing their practicum training at just one job! With each role we play comes a different list of duties and responsibilities. How do we find balance in juggling these multiple roles? 

Tip 1: Making Lists


Write it down. The more you put on paper, the less you need to store in your mind and the easier it will be to assess and prioritize (which we will go into more in Tip 2). Make separate lists for personal life and work life, and if it helps, you can even break down the lists further by using categories. A good planner for this is Passion Planner which helps you to break down your short-term and long-term goals and incorporate them into your daily life (*not sponsored, this is just what I use and I find it helpful).

Tip 2: Prioritize

Decide what absolutely needs to get done and set a deadline for when it needs to be accomplished. For my clients who struggle with organizing their to-do lists, one strategy that always has good results is writing down the list then deciding the one more two things that must get done on the list for the day (the “must-do” list) and the rest is just icing on the cake. Perhaps your must-do list is five items long. If that is the case, number them by order of importance and start with the most important. One strategy that works best for me is assessing my must-do list and identifying all the items that are easiest or take the least amount of time then quickly knocking them out. In your mind, you might make it a game to see how fast you can get them done. It can be fun!  When you have more than a couple items on your must-do list, checking/crossing off the easiest or quickest one can make things seem more manageable and the list less daunting. Then, when the must-do list is completed and there is still more time, then you can get to the rest of your to-do list, and if it helps, also number those items by order of importance. 

Tip 3: Delegate

When possible, delegate. Assess what needs to be done and see if someone else can help.  Can someone else do what you’re doing or what you need to do? In some cases, yes, and perhaps better than you can or, with more enjoyment, or find it more fulfilling than you do. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. We all have areas where we excel and have natural strengths, and conversely, those other areas where perhaps we are not naturally as strong. The beauty of it is everyone has a different set of strengths and when you learn yours and the strengths of others around you, you can take on more of the things that come easier and natural for you, and delegate the ones that don’t, when possible. When you delegate it also frees you up to do more of the things that light you up energetically and provides space for rest and recharge, which we all need.

Tip 4: Eliminate

When the Marie Kondo show first came out on Netflix in early January every single one of my clients who came in the following week brought it up in session and indicated that removing the items from their homes that did not “spark joy” cleared space for them that they did not realize they needed. This physical removal of extraneous stuff also inspired many of them to assess the other things in their life that they no longer needed, which, much to their surprise, brought a sense of lightness and calm. In the same way, it is important to take inventory of the things that are no longer serving you and do away with them. In life, we need to do many things that don’t necessarily “spark joy,” but we can use the basic principle to examine the bigger picture and identify the things that are not crucial or that may be preventing us from becoming the best versions of ourselves. Examples: reducing tv time if you tend to binge watch shows, cutting down or eliminating social media use (nearly everyone can benefit from this), ending one sided or toxic relationships, etc. Clean it up and clear it out.

Tip 5: Create Boundaries

Keep realistic expectations in mind for what you can accomplish for yourself and others. Learn the art of saying No when needed. We have all fallen into the trap of saying Yes to everything, whether it is due to being people-pleasers all our life, or we just started a new job and want to make the very best impression, or we want to be liked, etc., … but what happens when this goes on for too long at the expense of your wellbeing? You feel overextended and cannot show up in any of your roles the best version of yourself. Learning to set boundaries, knowing where your limits are, and clearly and effectively communicating them to others is one of the most important lessons when it comes to balancing roles and life in general.