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My take: How to achieve a reasonable work/life balance

June 11/18, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 26

By Steven Feldman

 

Just got back from NeoCon. Somehow, I fit five days of business meetings/appointments into two-and-a-half days. Actually, I know how. No lunch, bathroom breaks only when I felt I was about to burst and meeting with people pretty much nonstop from 9 a.m. until well into the evening.

Unfortunately, this type of schedule is often the norm. There always seems to be more that needs to get accomplished than a normal business day will allow. So the result is abnormal business days. Long hours. Working on planes. In bed. On the couch. Not unlike many of you.

My friend and business partner, Dustin Aaronson, refers to me as a workaholic. He says it affects my nonexistent social life. And he says if I don’t change my habits, nothing will ever change; it’s Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity. He is probably right; I have been unsuccessful at achieving a reasonable work/life balance. Not unlike many of you.

According to a study published by the American Sociological Review, 70% of American workers struggle with finding a work/life system that sustainable over the long term. For many in the workforce, achieving any type of work/life balance can seem like a myth, especially when technology has made us accessible around the clock. Time free from workplace obligations is becoming more elusive by the day.

Despite these realities, many people have managed to carve out satisfying and meaningful lives outside of work. An article in Fast Company outlined some of the tools they practice, some of which we should all learn to adopt:

  1. They make deliberate choices about what they want in life. Instead of just letting life happen, people who achieve work/life balance make choices about how they want to spend their time. They come up with a road map of what is important and commit to following the path.
  2. They regularly communicate about what’s working and what isn’t. Work/life balance going off the rails is usually a result of letting things slide as opposed to any kind of intentional choice. People who are good at staying on track make a conscious choice to continually talk to the important people in their lives about what is working or not and make decisions to change direction if needed.
  3. They set aside time for family, friends and important interests. Successful people don’t just wait to see what time is left over after work. They make a point of planning and booking time off to spend outside of work and powerfully guard this time. While situations come up on occasion, they strongly resist any intrusion on this time.
  4. They set their own parameters around success. People who manage work/life balance have developed a strong sense of who they are, their values and what is important to them. They know what makes them happy and strive to get more of that in their lives.
  5. They turn off distractions. People who maintain balance are able to silence their cell phones in order to enjoy quality, uninterrupted time doing what they enjoy. They realize that multitasking is a myth and focus on the task at hand.
  6. They have goals aligned with pursuing their passion. Many people get caught up in situations that end up controlling them. Those who achieve balance have a defined plan around time frames and make sacrifices to get what they want in the end. For example, many people typically spend a substantial amount of time in the early part of their businesses. That is a sacrifice that will allow them to spend extra time and energy in other areas once the business is established.
  7. They have developed a strong support network. People who have achieved good balance have a strong support network they can depend upon to help them get through difficult times. They are givers who typically extend themselves to help out in their family circles and communities.

Food for thought.