I recently gave a talk to the Million Dolar Round Table in Brisbane about being your BEST to thrive in tough times. One of the points of my talk was about the need to have balance in your life. The term “work life balance” is thrown around and something that many of us are trying to strive, but I don’t believe that it can really existing.
For one it’s not just work and life we are trying to balance, it a multitude of pressures that our careers, families, friends, ambitions, goals and desires both external and placed upon ourselves that we are trying to balance.
I like to think of balance as the act of minimising the frequency and amplitude of the variations from where our ideal equilibrium of all the things that makes up what we want out of life. Think of it as a pendulum that not only swings left and right, but in fact forwards and backwards and in all directions. Our ideal life or our equilibrium point is when the pendulum is hanging straight down and not moving. This is when our life is totally aligned with our values. What happens however is that the pendulum gets bumped and pushed by trying to keep other people happy, the drive to earn an income and grow wealth, trying to live up to other peoples expectations and trying to live up to our own expectations.
When we feel like life is out of control, the pendulum is swing madly in all direction at great speed and amplitude. We feel like the world is against us, work is full on, there is friction in the family, our health is deteriorating and we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
When we feel that life is good, the pendulum has slow small variation from the equilibrium and this is happy balance. We might have to work extra hard for a few days or weeks, but then we get over the hump and get to take time out with the family or have a long weekend. We manage to fit in a morning walk or lunch time gym session. We feel clear, calm, creative and in control.
So what do you do when the pendulum is swinging like crazy.
- Learn to say “No” – If you feel like you are overloaded, you probably are. No matter how efficient you are at time management if there is more than is possible to complete in day, you are not going to get it done. Simplify your task list delete what is not very important to be done and don’t take on any new work until what is on your list is done. We tend to add a lot of stuff to our lists that we don’t really need to do. Simply as much as possible and get back to basics. Ask questions like ‘what is the one thing today will….. grow my business, improve my relations, improve my health. Then don nothing but that one thing.
- Enjoy Free Time – Schedule a period of time each week. Hopefully a whole weekend, but at least a single day or at the very least a half day, where you have absolutely nothing planned to do and then do what ever you feel like at the time, whether it’s sitting on the lounge watching TV, reading a paper at the café, going for a walk with your friends or partner or anything else that captures your imagination at the time.
- Have a realistic schedule – in our endeavour to be successful we try and pack as much as we can into any given time. Allow twice the amount of time you think it will take to do something so you don’t feel rushed and don’t feel like you’ve achieved less than you wanted to in a day. Give other people realistic expectations of when things will be completed so you don’t feel like you’re rolling from one deadline to another.
- Unclutter – We gather clutter in our lives from day to day. Periodically have a decluttering day, where you do nothing but store, file, shred, tidy, throw out anything that you haven’t used recently. The worst thing that might happen is you have to re buy something a some point in the distant future, but you will achieve is a liberation of feelings, thoughts and stress that is keeping you out of balance and taking your focus of the surprisingly few things that you actually have to do to achieve what you want.
- Don’t multi-task, Batch – multi-tasking is another form of clutter. The constant change in context confused your focus and all you really achieve is looking incredibly busy, feeling stress and not really getting anything done. Instead batch you work, by working on one task for a set period of time and being totally committed to that task, that when the time is up. Put it down and move onto the next task.
- Be present – be total present in what you are doing at the time. If you are working on that task be totally dedicated to it and not thinking about other things or trying to do other things at the same time. If you are talking with someone, be totally present with them. Give them your attention and actively listen to what they are saying. All to often we are watching tv, twittering and trying to have a conversation at the same time, which results in us not engaging with the person and a deterioration of relationships.
- Be Grateful – when you feel like things aren’t going your way, instead of thinking about you bad things are, take time to list the things that you can still be grateful for. Start with the people closest to you and work out from there. Being grateful is one of the best ways to feel love for those around you, to remove fear and stress and get the inner clarity you need to get back into balance.