A 7-Day Way To Achieve Work-Life Balance
We live in a time-starved world. New challenges and duties that must be met with urgency (whether yours or someone else’s). Shifting focuses that change daily, disrupting our efforts. Outside influences that pick us off from our targeted objectives. And that’s just our professional lives.
We have many of the same challenges when we examine our personal lives as well. When our careers and home lives converge, it can become quite overwhelming.
There is as much a time crisis as there is a leadership crisis these days. Yet in order for great leaders to be effective and instigate change, they need to attain some harmony of a work-life balance as well.
For instance, Tal Schnall wrote in his Leadership Cafe blog about some strategies that leaders can use to achieve this elusive work-life balance. Talent Culture regularly posts strategies on how this balance can be sustained. These are just some examples of how leaders are reaching out to help stabilize the noise in today’s hectic world
Work-life management is like a buffet – there are a variety of options, you just need to choose the ones you want and put them into action.
Today I present a quick sampling of a technique I call “The 7-Day Way” to help achieve some balance in our professional and personal lives.
- Take a piece of paper, your Moleskine, Franklin Planner, Planner Pad, smartphone, tablet, etc and jot down 7 life areas or roles that comprise your life. (For instance, mine are: Faith, Family, Marriage, Work, Recreational, Home, Social). These are areas that you should want to focus and spend some elusive time on.
- Look at the week ahead. Take each life area and write down what day you will focus on that. Think of it as dragging the task from your to-do list and dropping it on your calendar. (For me, I have Faith on Sunday, Tuesday evenings are for my wife & I, Thursdays are time spent on extra work activities, Saturday mornings are Home projects). You can keep the same areas on the same days (see my example below on #7), or you can change them week to week.
- Look at your to-do list (or your “to-be” list). Find the most important task to be done in each category and make a time on that day for it. It’s doesn’t matter how long it takes – 2 hours, 30 minutes, or even 5 minutes to change a doorknob or write a book outline. Morning, lunch break, evening after dinner, late at night before retiring, however your schedule permits. What matters is that you have the time to focus on that goal.
- Look at this list daily, morning and night (3-5 minutes). Do it while you have your morning coffee or evening tea. What happens is that you know on Saturday afternoon is a time to talk with your neighbor or read or get the materials for that research paper. When you can see the next few days ahead, you start to plan to achieve those tasks and your mind will be in gear formulating the ways to accomplish it.
- Be forgiving and flexible. If a day gets so busy that you were not able to work in that life area, don’t fret. Just plan it for another time that week, or schedule it in the next week. You may find there are days you can accomplish more than 1 life area task in the same day.
- Reschedule, and build on the past week. As mentioned, if a task simply cannot be done, reschedule. As the weeks go on, you may find that your Mondays become more open for you to read, and you will start to look forward to that time for relaxing and growing.
- Have fun. While the discipline this creates is wonderful, you must also be flexible and have fun with this. Don’t sweat the missed days. Use a white board w/ color coded markers, or a calendar with magnets or stickers. Be unique and make it yours. I break my week down in my Moleskine by the first letter of the day as follows:
- Sunday – Sabbath (Faith)
- Monday – Me (recreation or a catch-all day)
- Tuesday – Tinker (home projects)
- Wednesday – Wife
- Thursday – Thinker (reading, work projects, finances)
- Friday – Family
- Saturday – Social
- (I have since changed Wife to Tuesday, Social to Wednesday and Tinker to Saturday, but I still use these names to keep me on track)
While this method is only 1 of many, many methods out there for you to choose from, I believe the flexibility and ease of this method will give it some effectiveness and longevity in your life’s pursuits.
Work hard. Play hard. Rest easy!!
(image courtesy of drupal.stackexchange.com)