If work-life balance is on your mind you have a lot of company, 89% of American workers (StrategyOne 2010) say it is a concern for them.
We live in a world where the boundaries between work and home are increasingly becoming blurred. You likely own a home computer or a smart phone or both. Access to the internet anywhere anytime is very real. As is it’s impact on your sense of work-life balance.
Now the norm is for people to do some work things at home. Like checking your email one more time before going to bed. Or polishing a report at home. If you are an entrepreneur and your phone rings while you are grocery shopping, and could it be a potential client, do you answer? What if your company issued phone rings at 8 pm on Tuesday while you are helping your kids with homework?
We also do life things at work. You might do some on-line banking or shopping, during your lunch hour.
More people telecommute all or some of the time.
If you are worried about the stability of your job, or are the boss, or if your income is directly tied to sales/commissions frankly it can seem miraculous to not focus on work all of the time.
Making a Life While Making a Living
We all wrestle with questions like:
- “How do I make a satisfying life while I making a living?”
- “If work is important, but it’s not everything, how do I make time for everything that is important?”
Ultimately what we all want to do is make a life, as well as a living. You strive to do your best work, without sacrificing your quality of life, but some times you’re just not sure how to make that happen.
So what get sacrificed first when your work life-balance is off-kilter? The very things you are likely working for, your family and then your own personal time.
Here’s the rub, you can’t be first-rate at work if all you are is work. Rest and recovery are crucial especially when they feel like exactly the thing you cannot do. Think of it this way, you can’t keep driving a car without gas, or recharging a battery, or when you are falling asleep the wheel. People are not all that different. We need time too to recover, recharge and refocus.
If you do not have the necessary resources to operate effectively and efficiently that is not good for business at work or at home.
How Do You Do This
To make a life while making a living must focus on fulfillment, not balance. Or certainly not balance as a static perfect equity of time and effort across all the sectors of your life, work, family, community and yourself. There are simply not enough hours in the day. Nor do the laws of physics allow for this- balance is a dynamic not static state. Different situations at different times in your life require different combinations of what you do and not do.
To shift to a fulfillment focus, try incorporating the 5 strategies below in to your life.
Don’t get overwhelmed by assuming that you need to make big changes to bring more balance to your life. Start with 1 or 2, give it a week and see what starts to change. Small shifts can have a significant impact, like leaving the office on time or even better early one day next week.
- Create your list of non-negotiables for your personal life ( e.g.: time at the gym, play dates with your kids, reading that book you have been meaning to, learning a language or new skill. . .) and then block out time for them in your calendar. You have to hold these times as sacred as you would a doctor’s appointment that you waited 6 months for or a meeting with the boss. Make setting aside time each day for something you enjoy a non-negotiable.
- Track your time and what you do with it for a week. See where you are spending your time in such a way you are efficient and getting a good return on your investment. See where you are not. Decide what is necessary and what satisfies you the most.
- Cut the things (or people) that do not satisfy you to the maximum degree that circumstances allow and delegate from there, which may mean giving up some control on some things. Embrace “The Power of a Positive No”. It is okay to respectfully say no. If you are the go to person for EVERYONE in your life, saying no to a request you normally or automatically would say yes to might feel hard, but it can be done.
- STOP multitasking on the important things. At first glance this seems like an efficient way to work. It is not. Multitasking on complex task or things that require your full attention involves switching your “executive functions.” This means as you shift from one goal to and other (I am going to do this now) and have to active the rules for the new goal (here are the rules for this). These little shifts of seconds really add up over the course of a day. Multitasking can cost up to 40% of your productive time (Meyer, Evens & Rubenstine, 2001). Focus on one thing at a time, putting your most important priorities first.
- Cut yourself some slack. You cannot do it all, and do it all well.
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Deirdre Danahar works with busy, creative, professionals who are looking to shift from what feels chaotic, disjointed or frustrating to a calm productive, spirited life. People she works with come away knowing how to do their best work without sacrificing their quality of life. She is the owner of InMotion Consulting & Coaching, LLC, based in Jackson, MS. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-362-8288.