20 Oct 5 Tips for a Better Work and Life Balance
By Paul Barrs
Whether you’re just getting started in business or you’ve been in business for some time, one challenge you’re going to face many times throughout your career is to work out the balance between time, tasks, and schedules versus family, friends, and fun. It’s called the work / life balance. It’s not new, and if you’re struggling with it, you’re not alone.
It’s something that we all, as small business owners, have to face – often many times throughout a year. We’re busy. We’ve got things to do. We’ve got deadlines. We’ve got customers’ needs to be met. We’ve got checklists that need fulfilling. There are those things that we have to do, and then there are those things that we want to do. But, sometimes stopping us from those that we want to do is what we have to, must do, such as pay the bills.
Here’s my best advice for you, right up front. You must know when to quit. You must understand when it’s time to switch off. If you haven’t learned this lesson, better that you learn it now rather than the hard way in the depths of depression or divorce or despair. Yes, my friend, that’s how serious this can be. So, here are five tips, things that you can physically do and take action upon to have better results and a better balance between your work and your life.
Number one, schedule time for your family and friends. There’s NOTHING worse than regretting time missed with family and friends… it’s a psychological killer. However, I’ve had both family and friends in my life who have said, “What? Aren’t I important enough? Shouldn’t you just remember?” Of course I remember, but I want to make sure that I don’t miss, that I keep things in balance. How many things have you missed of your kids whilst they’ve been growing up? Ever missed a special event with your loved one, your husband or your wife, or “significant other”? I have many times. I learned the hard way.
The truth of the matter is this… if you run your own business you’re doing the job of more than just one person. You’re not on a wage. You can’t just walk out and turn off. There are always things to do.
So, when you have something coming up you must, let me repeat, you must book it in. Book in your family. Book in your anniversary. Book in birthdays. Book in dinners, movies, barbecues. Book them in and turn the work mind off. It’s vitally important! Not just for your relationships, but also your personal wellbeing.
Number two, engage in effective time. Most people think that working out a work / life balance comes from making time to just do things with family or friends. Yes, that’s important, but you also must be effective in your time at work also. It’s about balance. So, during those working hours always be asking yourself, is this the best use of my time right now. Be mindful. Is what you’re doing “right now” going to help you meet and reach your goals? If not, why are you doing it? Perhaps you shouldn’t be. Perhaps somebody else should.
When you engage in effective time you get more done faster and with better result. Here’s the philosophy…. When you get more done and with better results you have less to worry about and less to do when you should be with family and friends. So, always be mindful of your time and what you’re spending it on.
Number three, monitor your ‘to do’ list. I’ve got a list of things that need to be done. It’s a pretty big list. More often than not the things on my list are in the red zone. They’re overdue. They’re things I should’ve done some time ago. But, I prioritize them. I mark them one, two, or three. Those things that must be done today will be done today those things that could be done tomorrow, probably will be done then… and those things that don’t really matter – sometimes they never get done at all.
You have to be ruthless in the way you manage your ‘to do’ list.
Also, use good time management to monitor your to do list and watch out for the overwhelm factor. Have you ever been overwhelmed? It happens when we have too many things on our list that we think must be done because we haven’t prioritized properly. Or, perhaps if there are so many things that must be done and you simply cannot do them without stress, worry, and losing the balance then it’s time to ask for help. You have to know when to quit. You have to know when to put your hand up and say, “I need help”. Now is the time. So, watch your list carefully, and be mindful of self induced pressure.
Number four, make time for movement. It’s a well known fact that the human body was made to move. It’s a machine designed to be used. I’m not just talking about getting involved with the latest fitness craze or some fad. I’m talking about scheduling in some regular exercise. Even if it is just walking. Even if you are physically limited in some way, ask yourself, “What could I do?” Movement is essential for physical, mental, and emotional health.
If you want to talk to someone about imbalance in their life go and speak to somebody who’s in hospital chronically ill, or go and speak to somebody on their deathbed; go find some high ranking executives who have all the money in the world. I can promise you not one of them will ever say, “I wish I spent more time in the office”, “I wish I’d owned more companies,” “I wish I’d finished that project, that development, that … whatever!” Whilst it’s OK to do these things, these things all take time and they all take planning. But to do them at the expense of your own good health or mental wellbeing is a fool’s game.
Those of us who engage on regular exercise each day or week do it because we’ve come to understand the value and the benefits for our body and our mind. We also understand that we must find balance in these things too, so should you…. You don’t have to run a marathon. you don’t have to train for a triathlon or swim the channel. But, you do need to move, and you need to make time for movement, plan it and book it in, else it won’t happen. Maybe it will mean getting up a little earlier. Okay, do that! Start small, and then as your will to become healthier grows, so will your ability to make it happen in your life.
Number five; grow your business by doing nothing. Yes, nothing. Did you know that some of the greatest minds throughout history have come up with genius ideas in the quiet stillness of the night? Or sitting under a tree (remember the apple)? This is something that you should look at adding to your own life if you’re not doing it already – scheduling ‘down time’. Maybe it’s you reading a book or walking the beach or mountain track. It is in these times that the creative mind works best. When it’s not stressed, when it’s not hurried, and when it’s not worried about what comes next.
Learn to find that state that thing that many call living in the moment, allowing yourself just to “be”. Personally, I love a walk along the beach. Some say it’s best done early in the morning as the sun rises, but I hate mornings, so I’ll often go instead in the evening. It doesn’t matter when. It just matters that it happens.
Would you agree with me on that?
These are ALL things that we can easily apply to our lives if we’re ready. We must schedule time for family and friends. We must engage in effective use of our time. We should always watch out for things that overwhelm us and we should move on a regular basis. Lastly, genius begins when we find time for relaxation or meditation, ‘creation time’ as I call it, to engage in the quiet moments of our mind, when nothing else seems to matter.
These five things can make a huge difference in our lives at home and at work. I encourage you strongly to look at your life and see how you can apply them. I know from personal experience, both through hardship and also through reward, that you’ll be so happy you did.