I spoke to a group of 70 biz owners in Invercargill last week on the challenge of balancing work and life. Easily 90% of the room raised their hand to the questions: Who feels overwhelmed by the busyness of life? Who wants to improve their work life balance?
Before scrolling down to this list of strategies for improving your work life balance, it’s worth considering your answers to the following questions. Then notice which strategy jumps out at you and commit to doing that one thing.
- How would I define work/life balance?
- What would a balanced day or week look, sound and feel like?
- Is it ok for me to be working 50+ hours/week and having limited time and energy for the other areas of life?
- What are the consequences, if I continue this way?
- Do I need more balance?
- Am I willing to commit to change?
Balance is a law of nature. We’re not supposed to be out of it. If you have any negative thoughts about having more life, guilt about doing less work or any other negative triggers, it could be time to break the pattern and make the necessary changes.
1. Decide to have a balanced life. Balance is a choice. Create an intention to have a more balanced life.
2. Make a list of all the perceived obstacles to having a more balance life and brainstorm ways to hurdle them. Get creative. Enlist support if you cant’ find a way.
3. Prioritise your actions. There will always be plenty of things to do to fill your time. Stick a note on your fridge that reads, ‘what one action can I take today to move towards my goals?’ and just do that one thing. I highly recommend you fit self-care in as one of your priorities. How can you excel, if you don’t take excellent care of yourself?
4. Do not try and juggle more balls. Busy is not effective. Don’t be a rocking horse. Understand how many balls you can juggle easily and make sure those balls are aligned to your key priorities.
5. Stay focused on the task at hand. Don’t get distracted. The old policies of ‘open door’, and ‘always available’, no longer serve us. Turn off mobiles, emails and inform people you need half a day to complete a project and do it till you finish it. Stick the following question on a post-it note onto your computer, ‘am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?’ Read it 3 x per day.
6. Learn to say ‘no’. Say no to emails, meetings, volunteer positions and any requests that take you away from your priorities. This may sound harsh and if you’re time-rich, this doesn’t apply to you but if you’re lacking balance, something has to go. Better some thing than your health.
7. Delegate where you can. If you don’t have staff, consider outsourcing. It could be more cost effective in the long run, especially if it means you have more time to increase sales or charge-out hours.
8. Manage your energy, not your time. If you’re a lark or an owl, do the tasks that require most concentration at those times. Take regular breaks from your desk. You will be more energized. Get fit. It’s amazing how much energy you gain by moving your body, especially if you choose exercise that brings you joy.
9. Create ten daily habits that energise you daily and do them. They only need to take 2 minutes each. Some of mine include: Enjoying coffee in a cafe with a friend or my journal, stroking my cats, listening to music (either soothing or rev me up), meditation, a daily walk in nature even if it’s just 15mins, reading fiction or something inspiring before bed.
10. Hire a coach to support you to live a more balanced life. People are creatures of habit and if you are drawn to work, work, work, there could be an underlying belief that’s holding you back. A coach provides accountability to encourage you to do the doing and it’s so much easier when you have a coach on your side.
List compiled by Amanda Woolrige, XL Coaching Ltd.