You have probably heard the concept of work/life balance. But what does that really mean? Traditionally, it has been thought of in the context of almost having two separate lives. One at home with family and another at work with your colleagues. The experts say if you have balance between the two, you’ll be more successful. In today’s fast moving, ever-changing world, does that philosophy still hold true? I submit the principles of balance remain the same, but the manner in which it is achieved is much different today.
When I entered the workforce in the late 1980s things were very clear cut. You worked for an employer, commuted to work, performed your duties, and returned home. Everything you needed to do your job was at work (computer, telephone, fax machine, copier, office supplies, etc). You typically worked from 8-5. Unless you were in sales or needed some sort of training, people did not travel much in those days. Employees spent a majority of their time at the office where all of the work was accomplished. In many ways, things were simpler. It seemed easier to have a balance between a career and personal life.
We are living in a much different world today. Things have significantly changed over the past 30 years. Business is now global in nature, economies are more interdependent, everything is connected to the Internet and based on mobility, and the evolution of change stemmed from innovation and technology is disrupting markets faster than ever experienced. That, coupled with fierce competition, strong economy, low unemployment rate, talent shortages, and increasing consumer demands, has created challenges for companies and for their employees. The lines between work and home have become blurred to the point of wondering if there is a difference between the two. Individuals and businesses all have a presence on social media. Everyone has some sort of smart phone that is connected 24/7 receiving personal and business-related emails, alerts, messages, posts, calls, etc. In one way, technology has made things easier by being able to combine various aspects of life into systems/devices, which allows you to manage life more holistically and efficiently. On the other hand, it has blended work and home making it feel overwhelming at times.
Another important aspect of this dynamic is the ability for people to work from home. Advancements in technologies like high-speed broadband, cellular services, mobile apps, and Internet-based telephone systems have dramatically changed how we live our lives. In addition, companies are motivated to drive down brick and mortar costs to remain competitive, and at the same time, offer new amenities to employees for retention purposes. Studies from Stanford University have shown that employees are more productive when working from home with less distractions, water cooler discussions, and unnecessary meetings. But, working from home requires a different mindset, which involves employees being more disciplined and self-motivated. For the individual, work and home have become one in the same making it more difficult to balance.
What’s next? At the 2019 Greater Louisville Inc. Annual Forum, Futurist Thomas Frey exclaimed, “The world will change more in the next 20 years than in the past 150 years combined. That the future will be about people working in more of a freelancer capacity versus full-time company employees. There will be a new trend of entrepreneurship that evolves from new technological advancements that will drive providing products and services to consumers in a highly personalized fashion.” Are you ready for the future? How will you adapt personally and professionally in order to thrive?
How can you be successful at work, continue to grow in your career, and have a happy home life as well? Whether you work in an office or at home, or whether you work for a company or own a business, the following applies to any situation. The first thing I recommend is change the way you think. Think more like a millennial. Think of your life in its entirety, not as different things (career/personal) at different times. You have a lot of responsibilities in life such as: emails to read/send, projects to work, laundry to wash, social media sites to post to, cooking and cleaning, customer meetings, payroll, proposals, kids sporting events, church, exercising, etc. Is this about balancing a job against family or is this a time management problem to solve? All of these activities have to be addressed in the course of a day, right? There are only 24 hours in a day to fit it all in minus the time you are asleep. How do you do that? Below are some valuable resources that will allow you take and maintain control of your life and ensure you are successful in all facets of it.
- Review the various aspects of your life … see Wheel of Life exercise at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVU2Pj8HbsQ. Identify what is important to you in order to have the balance you want. The more diversified and balanced you are, the more successful and happier you will be.
- Create a list of the most important things you have to do at work and home that make up the Wheel of Life. Next, prioritize the list. Suggest using the Eisenhower method at:
- Document how much time is required for you to spend in each of those areas per day, per week.
- Develop a block schedule that includes the items from your prioritized list in conjunction with the time you allocated. If you are not familiar with block scheduling, please reach out and we’ll put one together.
- Once you have your block schedule, transpose it to your daily calendar you use for home/work purposes (Google, Outlook, etc).
- Lastly, discipline yourself to following your new agenda every day and continuously improving it along the way.
You are either in control of your life or being controlled. The goal is for you to be intentional. Make time for all the things that bring about a fulfilled/balanced life and make that your routine. This will provide you a foundation of resiliency for when you go through trials and tribulations and propel you to higher altitude of bigger/better opportunities. You will be amazed in how it will positively transform your life and bring about levels of gratification never imagined. Not only will you be more productive and go farther in life, but you will be much happier as well.
I have had the privilege of leading large/diverse organizations and working with a lot of people from all over the world. In those travels, I have seen the positive impact of being balanced, as well as the devastating effects of not living a life of balance. I will end with a few important questions. Where are you today? Are you where you want to be? Are you struggling in your life, profession, or business? What’s stopping you from achieving everything you want?
I have helped countless people over the years and am ready to help you. Let’s connect and SOAR HIGHER together.