Work-life balance seems to be the topic everyone is talking about. I hear people talking about it all the time. Maybe is the environment I am immerse on, but I truly believe it's a priority for many people, and I am not the exception. Work-life balance is something very close to my heart, even though I have to say I might have a different view and perspective on what it means.
I believe the concept of work-life balance has evolved over time and it's more and more challenging to achieve in today's world as we are more and more connected; as contradictory as that might sound.
As I mentioned I believe I have a different definition of work-life balance than many. From my perspective work-life balance means having clear what your priorities are and feeling fulfilled in all of them.
I have learned that the day only has 24 hours, even thought sometimes I wish it had more, that is something I have no control over.
I've also learned that I am only one person. I can't clone myself, but I play many different roles in my life. I am a spouse, mom, professional, leader, friend, member of the community, and the list keeps going. All these roles make me who I am and they are all important.
In the past I believed these roles were competing for my time and attention and that I had to constantly make sacrifices in one to be able to focus on the other one. I've learned it doesn't have to be like that. They don't have to compete but rather they can co-exist.
When looking to feel in balance, and looking back to my definition of work-life balance, where balance is achieved once you fill fulfilled in all your priorities, the first thing that needs to happen is to define our priorities. Those priorities go across all roles you play in you life. This is very important, as depending on where you are and what is going on at the time, you might narrow focused on one or two roles and underestimate others.
After defining our priorities the next question to answer is how to accomplish them all in 24 hours and how to deal with all the external pressures that come with life. You can be the best at planning, but life happens and it shakes up any plans you made. Planning is key but we also need to be aware and ready for life to happen.
Two key lessons learned for me in this pursue to feel in balance have been:
You need to let of perfectionism. Let's start by saying that perfection does not exist, at least I don't believe it does, but our desire to be perfect is what causes stress and makes us feel out of balance. Being ok with not being perfect is key.Priorities shift and you need to adapt on the go.
I would say there is a thirst lesson learned here and that is that is key to be as efficient and effective as can in the 24 hours the day has. I know, that is easier said than done. You might be wondering how do you do that. Well, for me it all boils down to your priorities and having crystal clear priorities. If you have your priorities clear, they will guide your decisions throughout the day.
By definition you will not feel in perfect balance. Is not possible to focus in all priorities at the same time, it's just not possible. Balance will shift and steer on one or the other direction through your day or week; the important thing is to make sure that is not steering on the same direction all the time.
Here are some of my tips that have helped me feel in balance:
1. I set my priorities and I revisit them constantly.
2. I use one and only one planning system. I am one person, and the day only has 24 hours, so why have different calendars. I have one and only one calendar which is sync in my computer and phone and everything goes in that one calendar.
3. I have established a morning routine and I follow it consistently every day.
4. The first thing I do every morning when I get to the office, before opening my email is writing down in a post it note the 1-3 things I want to absolutely accomplish that day. These become my non-negotiable.
5. I schedule my "big rocks" first.
6. I have learned to say "no".
7. I set time every day to take care of myself, recharge and learn.