Why should work and life always be on opposite sides of some great cosmic balance? What are we trying to balance? Are we all such clock watchers that every second of work must be balanced with an equal amount of “life”?
Chasing a work-life balance implies that somehow work is the enemy of life. Ask yourself this: Are you alive when you spend time working? When you’re living your life, do you ever think about work? Work is a part of life. Work is responsible for much of what we have in life. Work isn’t the enemy of life, it is the engine.
If you want more time for life, you need to make sure that engine is running as efficiently as possible. But trying to parcel out amounts of time is wasted energy. Understand that how you spend your time is more important than on which side of some invisible balance it should be weighed.
Here are some tips to help you rethink the work-life balance:
Chase purpose: If you can fire up your enthusiasm for what you’re doing, it isn’t so difficult to see your work as a part of your life. It should be something you’re proud of. Seek out opportunities that drive your enthusiasm. If you’re passionate about your work, that passion will be reflected in your life.
Unplug: Find some time during the week when everyone at home can do something together without the distraction of phones, tablets, TVs, and video games. Try to make some real memories.
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Plan for success: What’s your goal? If you achieve this mythical work-life balance, what does that success look like? If you don’t know, you should sit down and figure it out for yourself. Think about it in terms of work, family, community, and personal life. A perfectly running engine still needs a destination or you’re just spinning wheels. Once you know where there is, you’ll be better prepared for the journey.
Control your calendar: You are the only one responsible for how you spend your time. Everyone has obligations, but it is up to you to prioritize and control your calendar. This is one of the hardest tips to follow, but also the most important. The key to success is the ability to tell the difference between the urgent and important and then mind the important. Master that skill and you’ve mastered your calendar.
Plan your day: If you know what your priorities are, then when something unexpected comes along, you’re better prepared to deal with it. Ask yourself, “Will this matter in a year?” If not, then maybe it can wait while you work on something more important.
So let’s not worry too much about balancing the amount of time we spend on life vs. work. Instead, concentrate on making the most of the time available. If you are efficient, plan ahead, and take control of your time, you’ll discover that there is more than enough to attain your goals and enjoy a purposeful and fulfilling life. Others have done it and they worked with the same 24 hours in a day.
As the founder of Petra Coach, Andy Bailey can cut through organizational BS faster than a hot knife through butter, showing organizations the logjams thwarting their success and coaching them past the excuses we all use to avoid doing what needs to be done. Andy learned how to build great organizations by building a great business, which he started in college, then grew into an Inc. 500 multi-million dollar national company that he successfully sold and exited. He founded Petra to pass on to other entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders the principles and practices he used to build his successful enterprise, which are rooted in the Rockefeller Habits methodology. Andy currently serves as president of the EO Nashville Chapter, named one of the fastest growing EO chapters in the world. He is a two-time finalist for Nashville Executive of the Year and has been honored as Nashville’s Volunteer of the Year.