We’ve all heard the term ‘work-life balance’. There are even new and creative versions of that term, such as ‘work-life integration’. Ultimately most of us feel overwhelmed with all of the things we have on our plate at some point in our lives, and are eagerly looking for ways to find more time in the day.
Goal of ‘balance’
An equation for ‘balance’ = more quality work completed in less time + more time for family, sleep, exercise, rest + feeling successful in both. Feeling overwhelmed already? The reality is that life is constantly changing. The way you spend your time today is different from a year ago, and will be different a year from now.
If our life is constantly changing, our strategies for achieving a sense of ‘balance’ must continuously adapt. We need to recognize that what worked last week to make time to exercise, cook dinner or finish that work presentation may not work this week. How often do we reassess our priorities and strategies, without judging ourselves as failures, and simply determine what changes will help us to get back on track?
Full schedule vs. full life
Being ‘busy’ is not the same as being ‘productive’. Hours do not necessarily equate to impact. Yet we fill our calendars to the point where we have to squeeze our true priorities into the small cracks of leftover time. Inevitably, work spills into our evenings and weekends and we return on Monday feeling like we already need a break.
Filling your calendar with meetings and appointments is like squeezing into a pair of very tight pants. You may get everything in there initially, but you will experience considerable pain, have trouble breathing comfortably throughout the day, and something is very likely to spill over. Does this sound like your day? Does this sound productive?
Don’t ‘should’ yourself
A good starting point for finding success in work and life is determining what is worth your time, and more importantly, whyit is worth your time. We all need motivation to stay focused on what matters most, but ‘should’ is not a sustainable form of motivation. I ‘should’ work out today. I ‘should’ make a heathy dinner. I ‘should’ be meditating. Does that sound familiar? Does it motivate you to get started…or feel more like judgment and shame?
Our priorities are reflected in our actions, not our words. We can say exercise is a priority, but if it becomes the appointment in your calendar that you move or delete multiple times a week, it is not your true priority. Think back to something big you accomplished because you were motivated to make it happen. It probably wasn’t a ‘should’ that got you off the couch day after day.
Our workshops provide many strategies for finding success and work and life, but we start with a very simple question. What would you do with more time? An extra 15 minutes? An extra hour? An open day with no commitments? We all have the ability to create that space when it really matters, but have to start by figuring out how we would use the time. What is your ‘why’?
Author: Becky Jacobs, Chief Engagement Officer