Remember when the technology experts tried to sell us on the notion that all of their gadgets would free us up, give us more leisure time and make life so much more enjoyable? We’ve been fooled into thinking that being offered the opportunity to “telecommute,” or work from anywhere we choose, with cloud-based infrastructures allowing us to move where and when we want results in work-life balance. It doesn’t.
Rrrreally technology experts??? Have any of you experts heard about the economy lately and companies requiring more and more of employees who are fearful of taking off for even their earned vacation time? Do you really think all of this technology has provided people with free time? Don’t you see people working more and more at home, handling phone calls and texting over family dinners and even on dates, and burning out due to sizeable workloads and pressure to keep their jobs ?
It’s called “work-life balance” and to say it simply, millions of people are suffering from being out of balance, not knowing how to deal with the invasion of work into what was once their sacred, protected personal life and having to-do lists larger than their desks. But the key to rewiring your thinking and life in this arena is to understand that you have choice as to what you let in and keep out of your off work hours.
From a rise in workplace violence (see my book, “Ticking Bombs: Defusing Violence in the Workplace”), to a rise in stress-disability claims, to a 60-80 hour work week for many who bring work with them wherever they go, to family time just simply eroding, it seems that work-life balance has indeed become another in the newest DIEt to struggle with ,fad.
From senior executives and elite athletes I counsel who complain about having enough money but not enough time to enjoy it, to everyday moms and dads desperate to find some simple quiet breathing space, and to children so overbooked with homework and after-school activities while their parents are over-working, it’s clear that reclaiming control over life, integrating work into one’s personal life with resulting inner happiness, is a top priority for everyone.
Here are some very useful methods that I know work to deal with this problem. It seems some days—and weeks–I just don’t stop working. Heck, it doesn’t just “seem” that way, it IS that way!
We are all busy people who need better work-life balance. Here are my methods, that I suggest you give a try if you are feeling out of balance—don’t strive to find balance, but rather inner happiness:
- Simplify, declutter, learn the art of doing nothing and add white space to your life DAILY, no matter what you “have to” do. Decide what kind of life you want to live. That’s right! You have choice.
- Purpose every day, focusing on the big rocks, track everything you do for a week or two in order to help you decide what’s necessary and what’s “nice to get to,” then prioritize in a ruthless manner. Follow your own plan, not anyone else’s.
- Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, take time for proper nutrition, exercise (!!), and get necessary restorative sleep. Be sure you add a date night with your loved one for your romantic life.
- Give up “it must be perfect”—it won’t be, allow yourself and others around you to be humanly imperfect. Along the same lines, never think while focusing on one task, “I must get these five others done.” That will derail you. Instead, think, “There are five others that I will get to later.” Perfection is a myth. So is the idea that you can “multi-task.” Great leaders and managers are not available constantly. Work time does not mean profitable, productive work time.
- Hang out where cell phones are not allowed. Learn to smile and say, “Ahhhh.” Just a little calm time, relaxation, can go a long way. Ten minutes of meditation is all you need for the breather to refresh.
- Listen to your “inner voice,” the one that knows when enough is enough, and when you need a break. Then really listen and heed your own advice. Nike, the leading fitness and athletic wear company that elite athletes all over the world endorse, has a great slogan that I also endorse for motivation—“JUST DO IT!” When it comes to giving yourself a much needed break follow that advice.
- All the rest are common sense—delegate what others can do for you and let them, put some boundary around your work life and private life, learn to say “no,” develop your support system, escape materialism and live your life consciously with your legacy in mind.
The irony is that people who are happy with their work-life balance tend to work “harder” and are more likely to stay with their companies. They feel more energized and derive much more fulfillment from work. In their personal lives they experience improved relationships with family and friends, and better physical and emotional health.
Albert Einstein once offered this formula for the work-life balance issue: “If A is success in life, then A =X +Y + Z. Work is X; Y is play; and Z is keeping your mouth shut.” Leave it to Einstein to understand work-life balance as the need for work AND play…and staying calm.
Remember, “Ahhhhhs” equal life, not money.