Digging deeper into creating and maintaining work-life balance.
When managing your everyday priorities, you can start off with something as simple as a daily planner. I have referenced the passion planner before but that is just what works for me.
Brian Tracey has an A, B, C, D, E method. Where you plan every day and week in advance. He says that you should make a list before you start each day, preferably the night before. Every minute spent in planning saves ten minutes in work or execution.
Go over your list and put an A next to each of your most important tasks;Go over your list and put a B next to tasks that are not as important;Go over your list and place a C next to those tasks that are hardly important at all.When you begin work, start on your A-1, most important tasks first thing. Practice single-handling; concentrate single-mindedly on one thing, the most important thing, and discipline yourself to stay on that task until it is 100% complete.
While you are planning your your week, plan your downtime. I know this seems almost silly to some of us since the word ‘breather’ and ‘break’ are often associated with sporadic, spontaneous and unknown blocks of time. Planning your downtime is imperative to you finding and maintaining your work-life balance. Laura Stack, a productivity expert in Denver says that you have to make a little time for things that ignite your joy. She is 100% right. Whether that is relaxing with your favorite book, meditating, going on a jog or just simply sitting and doing nothing, you need to plan this time. You also need to understand that big changes are not the answer to your balance problem. If you want to succeed, you need to start small and build on your goals. If your end goal is running 5 miles every morning, start off by running half a mile and working your way up every week or month. If your end goal is to incorporate a new hobby as well as exercising, start with one. Don’t over-reach and overwhelm yourself, you’d only be setting yourself up for failure.
This one is the toughy.
You need to make a huge effort to stop doing things that drain your time, energy and productivity. Since these things have usually reared their ugly heads in our lives in the forms of habits at this point, be easy on yourself if you fail the first few attempts. If you continually beat yourself up, you will start to associate negative feelings about cutting these things our of your life instead of positive ones. When you are doing your initial evaluation, take the time to recognize the activities in your life that aren’t BETTERING you, your personal life, and your career. From there, you can slowly start to train yourself to spend less and less time on these activities. Or, if you’re ready to take the dive, cut them out cold turkey.
Rethink and outsource your errands.
What are you doing now that you could automate or make your life a little easier by changing the WAY you do it? Could you save time (and money) by ordering your groceries online? Have you automated your monthly bills? Is it in your budget to hire someone to help you with housework or yard work? Are there any subscriptions or client retention programs at work that you could automate? These errands seem small when they are standing alone but when they stack up, it can be quite a lot of work. Automating and outsourcing these tasks can take a large burden off your chest and help you carve out time for yourself, your business and your work-life balance plan.
The giant elephant in the room. Everyone knows that they aren’t doing it or aren’t doing it as often as they should. Everyone knows that they should be doing it. Everyone knows why they should be doing it. This goes back to planning your down time, you also need to be planning and following through with your exercise time. We all tend to skip our plan because it’s something we’re not ‘required’ to do. No one is holding a gym deadline over our heads and our paychecks don’t rely on working out 5 days a week. BUT exercise has a large impact on our productivity and if you find yourself increasingly distracted at work, this is something that could change your paycheck. If you look at it that way, I’ll bet you have no problem getting to the gym this week!
Once you feel that you have a solid plan in place, evaluate your work-life balance plan regularly. Check in with yourself and your goals. Track your time and remind yourself to focus on one thing at a time. Ask yourself if you’re happy with how you’ve spent your time the past week, month, or quarter. Reward yourself for following through and allow yourself to be happy! Don’t make this plan just another work item for you!
Lastly but most importantly, share your plan.
Share it with everyone in your life. Set your boundaries and be open about them. Learn how to say no. Ask your family, friends, coworkers, and boss for support and encouragement. Ask them to acknowledge and respect your plan. You will thank yourself!