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Is there such a thing as work/life balance?

September 26, 2013

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We talk about work/life balance all the time and one of the questions I am asked the most is, “How do you do it? How do you balance work life and home life?” The honest answer is, “I don’t very well. I constantly work at it.”

I don`t do it all. No one can. For years I battled the guilt of not being able to do it all, especially during the period of my life that I was working two jobs being a weekend stay at home mister mom while trying to advance my career. The very word “balance” caused me stress because it felt like an unattainable dream that I would never be able to achieve.

Oh, the guilt. All working parents have the added burden of the never-ending guilt. When you are at work you feel guilty for not being at home. When you are at home you feel guilty for not being at work. So basically you live in a 24-hour guilt cycle that never ends. Until one day when you finally accept the fact that you will never be able to do it all – but that is actually OK! It’s not about doing it all, it’s about doing the best you can with what you’ve got. So, rather than constantly feeling guilty and stressed in your pursuit of balance, turn your focus toward doing the very best you can do every day with the time you have.

Here are ideas to help you bring a little better balance into your life:

SCHEDULE DOWN TIME

A good friend an entrepreneur, told me as my career was progressing that I needed to block out time on my calendar for my family up front or I would never have it open. He was right, but unfortunately it took me a lot of years of my life to realize how right he was. I never blocked out the real family time, and work slowly overtook my life because I wasn’t doing anything to make family time scheduled like business meetings were. I would block off an hour lunch meeting with someone for business, so why not block off an hour dinner with my family at night?

It took me years and many hard lessons to figure out how critical it was for me to schedule my family time as carefully as I schedule my work day. The important thing is that you treat your family as if they matter just as much as the most important business person in the world, and don’t miss your scheduled meetings you have with them. Block out dinner on your calendar. Block out Saturday family events. Always keep Sunday as a sacred time with your family. Block out date night if you are married. Block out a once-a-month father/daughter or mother/son date with your child. Put these things on your calendar in advance of each month and then treat them with the importance of any other meeting. Schedule that time with them. They need you.

CUT OUT THE THINGS THAT DON’T ADD VALUE TO YOUR LIFE

There are a lot of things we waste time on in life. Television, Internet, video games, etc. I know because I am as guilty as many of you by allowing these things to overtake my family time. Cut it out! That is my advice. If you have distractions in your life that take too much time away from family then put stickers on the TV or computer or video game console that ask you “what matters most in my life?” It won’t take long for that to hit you in the gut. Trust me. I have tried it. It’s a good way to pull yourself away from wasting time when you could be spending it on quality time with your family.    

OUTSOURCE THOSE TASKS THAT YOU CAN

Don’t be the one that can do it all. Some of us are control freaks and until we have confidence and faith in people we trust to get those tasks done we will never give them up. Whether it is hiring great people or finding shortcuts for daily life duties, you have to learn to outsource. This was the hardest one of all for me so I workedat it the most.  

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR WORKDAY- 

The Switch to Skype for Business

This trifecta of products improves communication and collaboration internally and externally, cultivating better and more effective interactions with our employees and customers in the office as well as across the globe. The Skype for Business platform unifies business communications tools into a single, easy-to-use application, streamlining communication with Skype4B desktop and mobile conferencing solutions.

With Skype for Business, I have a single interface to keep track of my contacts' availability, can quickly send IMs, start or join audio, video, or web conferences, share documents and my desktop, or make phone calls.  This technology may be the key to successfully managing a more perfect work/life balance.

AVOID NEGATIVE PEOPLE THAT SUCK YOUR ENERGY

People in your life that gossip, are negative, complain, or vent can be a huge drain on your energy. Avoid them! They will take up your time and leave absolutely no redeeming value to your universe. Don’t give them two seconds of your day because if you give two seconds they will take two hours. If you run into one of them, or they text you, or Facebook message you, or call you, or whatever, just don’t engage. Simply tell them you are too busy being happy to swim in their pool of negativity and then avoid them like the plague!

TAKE FIVE FOR YOU

In all the talk about work/life balance the thing we forget the most is taking time for yourself. It is the very first thing that always goes – you. We are so worried about everyone else that we forget about us. Everyone – men and women – need a little time each day just for them. Time to read a little, time to work out, time go to church and look at the things that matter most to you. No matter what you choose to do with your five minutes, it needs to be time that is just for you. Meditate. Write in a journal. Pray. Just take that time for you – it will make you a better person to the ones you love, trust me.

I hope these ideas will help a little bit. This topic of balance is one I have struggled with my entire life and I certainly haven’t figured it out, yet. But I am getting a little better at it all the time and that is what is important.

I have the added benefit of a great “work family” as well. We work very hard at having “fun” at work, keep up a  fast pace while making sure we always have each other’s back. This has made the work/life balance much easier to get right!

Do you have any successful tips to attain a better work/life balance?  Share your tips & thoughts with us. 

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