“Work/Life Balance” is a phrase that makes me shudder. We all know what we mean. And I can’t think of anything better (as you’ll notice, when you read this post!).
But right there, in that stock phrase, is the root of problem. Work is one thing. Life is something else. And it’s a zero-sum game.
If we could only shift our thinking and move away from the “work/life” focus; and make it all about “balance” (full stop).
Here are 12 mini-challenges for you to improve your balance – whatever your definition.
1/ Create a balance goal.
Sounds obvious. And it is. And we still don’t do it. We reserve our goal-setting for everything else. Not for balance. So set a balance goal. Not vaguely and informally, but thought-through, written-out and well-formed. Then give your balance the time, focus and attention it deserves.
2/ Include your nearest/dearest on the plan.
Tell them about the balance challenges you’ve noticed and your new balance goal. Sharing your goal will help keep you accountable.
3/ Take a look at your habits.
Which of your routines are serving you and your balance – and which aren’t? now consider: what’s the trigger that’s kicking-off the routine? Learn to spot these – and choose a different response.
4/ Examine your deeper motivations.
What is the deeper reason behind devoting extra time, attention and effort to work or a particular project? And consider: what does that say about the value I place on other areas of my work and life?
5/ Define a new set of rules.
Set some “unbreakable” rules to help maintain balance. For example: make your daily walk a non-negotiable. When faced with a rule-breaking choice, simple say: “sorry, them’s the rules”.
6/ Work diligently on the non-work.
Use whatever it is you’re getting from work as clues to what you’re not getting outside work. Then kick-off a non-work “project” that expresses those values.
7/ Point self-discipline at what you want to do.
“Self-discipline” is often thought of as that which gets us through the less desirable tasks. Re-think self-discipline to be about “forcing” you to focus on … you.
8/ Carve-out some space.
A space for work; a space for personal; a space for a special project. Respect these spaces by only ever engaging in the activity for which you’ve assigned that space. If you’re moving on to another activity, move to its space.
9/ Always be looking to change-up.
Imbalances most often happen when we’ve dropped into autopilot. So set a reminder periodically in your calendar to take a high-level view. What could you change?
10/ Recognise the wider consequences.
Exceeding boundaries has benefits (that’s why we do what we do) but also negative consequences. Really challenge yourself to notice the wider consequences for your performance, motivation, commitment, energy levels and so on.
11/ Find ways to nurture yourself at work.
Keep a regular work schedule and ensure your routine day includes breaks, lunch, time away from your desk, time outside, time making connections with others.
12/ Remind yourself: you are not your work.
Our commitment and dedication can lead us to define our entire identity by our work. But there are many other ingredients that make-up our whole self. Have the source of your identity be many things.
If you’d like some help getting intentional about achieving your balance, ping me an email and I’ll send you my Work/Life Balance Worksheet.