To be successful and happy and feel stress free then you need to think about how to balance work and life.
If you focus completely on your business, then you might miss out on great moments with your family and friends. Of course, the opposite is true as well, if you neglect your business and spend every moment with those people, you will end up underachieving in your business and ultimately that will cause an issue in terms of your family and future life as well.
You’ve heard the stories of people on their deathbed saying that they wish that they’d spent more time with their family and friends. They say they spent so much time running their businesses and working that they missed those birthdays and anniversaries and firsts when their children learned to talk and walk, and so on. So they were successful in their business but they never really appreciated or truly experienced the family life that they had.
Alternatively, you can spend less time nurturing your family and spending time with your friends and enjoying yourself and not really applying yourself to your business. And then your business perhaps limps along doing just about enough but never well enough that you can really do all the things that you want to do as a family because your income levels aren’t high enough. And maybe your self esteem and your feelings of stability aren’t good enough either.
Work / Life Balance
Lots of people talk about needing balance in your life or work / life balance. The definition of balance is an even distribution of weight, enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
I don’t like to talk about work / life balance even though the title of this post is ‘How to Balance Work and Life’!
I like to talk about work / life integration because I don’t think it necessarily is about balance; sometimes you need to focus more on your business and other times more on your family. That might not be balanced time but is what is needed.
Mike Vardy of Productivityist talks about shifting rather than balance; shifting into another gear or into another focus in order to do what’s needed. He likens balance to multi-tasking, which you may know isn’t really a thing mostly – it’s just moving between two or more tasks really quickly and that has been shown to be detrimental to your productivity, not helpful.
Having said that, the quote above describing someone balanced as being ‘upright and steady’ does describe it a bit better than the usual discussions of the phrase work / life balance as long as we don’t liken it to plate spinning, which takes us right back into multi-tasking and behaving reactively!
Work / Life Integration
I prefer to use the phrase work / life integration because, particularly when you’re running a business, some days you have to really step on the accelerator in terms of your business, and some days you can back off and spend more time doing some of your more personal family oriented activities, and those needs and demands will differ on a daily basis.
And it’s important to ensure that you are doing the right things at the right time and so it isn’t necessarily about spending equal amounts of time in your business, and with your family. It’s about spending the right periods of time in your business and with your family and friends, and also on your own!
Six Tips for Healthy Work / Life Integration
There are many tips and strategies to share here but today we are focusing on the following six. Try to build elements of each of them into your life on a regular basis to help you to keep well, be fulfilled and to ensure you ‘live more’.
If you were in a corporate role, you’d have regular performance reviews and that’s usually where you talk to your manager about your efforts in your work. And it’s about planning for the future as well so that you can improve your performance, do more of what’s working and reduce the things that aren’t working so well.
Performance reviews aren’t usually something we do in our personal lives or our business lives when we work on our own. But if we did, then that would give us much more of an opportunity to think about how our relationships are working and how we can improve them and do more of the things that work well and less of the things that don’t work so well.
Build in that review time with your loved ones and your friends. It’s not easy to do that. Successful relationships are hard work; you do have to put in the effort and you do need to be open to criticism. It can be difficult to take criticism from people about what you’re doing but if you build in those opportunities to have those discussions with your friends and family on a regular basis, then you can really build great relationships.
And of course it’s really important to do regular reviews of your performance in your business. So that’s daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly annually; having different measures for each of those periods of time in different areas of your business so that you can keep an eye on what’s happening and see where things are getting better and where things aren’t working so well. This can help you to decide what you need to focus on moving forwards.
So often we work really hard as we’re trying to earn the money that we need within our business and to support our family and we can easily burn out if we work too hard. One of the ways to counteract that is to think about creating and taking rewards for ourselves for reaching particular milestones, and by that I mean, building in some time to do the things that we want to do that keep us happy and healthy.
Give Yourself Rewards for Working Hard
I talk about the concept of ‘living more’, getting to do more of the things that you want to do and less of the things that you feel you should do and feel that you have to do. Key to that is actually understanding, in the first place, what those things are that you really want to do.
What happens often is that people don’t actually know what they really want to do, so even when you do get a day where you can spend that time doing the things that you want to, you end up wasting that day because you don’t actually know what you really want to do.
So it’s really important to get clear about what you really enjoy, and what you really want to spend your time doing so that you can work towards those times where you get the chance to do just that, including spending those times with your friends and family that you really look forward to and that you can really enjoy in the moment.
Move Away From Emotional Vampires
One of the really hard things to do is distance yourself from friends or family who aren’t supporting you. But sometimes that’s what you need to do to be able to work well in your business or to have a really relaxed and enjoyable personal life.
If you’ve got somebody who’s always bringing you down, who always has drama in their life or is always trying to create drama in your life, then they can really sap your energy.
It’s important to be really clear about what you need to have in your relationship with people who are around you and, again, making sure that you build, develop and enjoy those great relationships and move away from those relationships that aren’t helping you.
So, if you have people who don’t help to keep you motivated and happy, working well and having a good life, then start to spend less time with them. It doesn’t mean that you have to break friendships or never see people but just be really intentional about the time that you’re spending with people and spend less time with those people who aren’t being so helpful to you in terms of your wellbeing, success and happiness.
Make Time for Exercise That You Enjoy
There’s so much research that says that physical activity can really help with your mental functioning as well as your physical health. And having a strong healthy body can help to give you the energy that you need to run a successful business, and also enjoy that time that you spend with your friends and family.
It might involve a bit of planning. It’s about creating habits that give you that opportunity to perhaps walk more often, to move around more often during the day, to actually go to the gym or to do the things that you want to do that you enjoy that help you to move and keep your body moving.
You need to prioritise this because moving really does help to improve your mind as well as your body, and really can help you to keep well and ensure longevity.
Schedule Regular Breaks
Every day, think about how you can stop what you’re doing and do something different for five or ten minutes. It’s going to make a cuppa, walking around the house, walking around the garden, even going to the toilet! It’s going out into the garden. Maybe it’s perhaps reading for five minutes. It’s just doing something different so that you’ve ‘checked out’ of your busy work on a regular basis.
If you can, plan longer breaks and go outside for a walk (see the point above!), or perhaps call somebody and have a chat.
When you’re with your friends and family, it might be about building in a few breaks from that situation. So it might be that on a weekend with everyone you make sure that you build in a bit of time for you to spend some time quietly reading or just relaxing or doing something that doesn’t involve having to be ‘always on’ with your friends or your family. And this is even more important if you’re an introvert where you get your energy from being alone; less so if you’re an extrovert getting your energy from being with people.
Plan Short Term, Mid Term and Long Term Goals
You’ve probably heard that thing about starting with the end in mind – good old Stephen Covey! It’s about thinking about where you want to go, and then building in goals and milestones along the way so that you know where you should be aiming, what you need to do, and most importantly, whether you’ve achieved, those goals.
This varies from person to person in terms of how formal you are with your goal setting.
I like to work with a vision where I can see the end result of where I want to go and then I make sure that my activity is working towards that. I do some planning around tasks and I am clear about the milestones on the way.
It may be that you particularly want to spend, big chunks of time goal setting and being really clear about one year, three year, five year goals or even longer goals and then having short term 30 day, 90 day, 180 day goals and being really clear then about how you’re working towards those goals.
Other people like to use vision boards. if you go to my CALM membership site I have a course which is all about using vision boards. That can be where you identify how you want your life to be and how you want your business to be, and then you can create pictures and imagery around those plans and really focus on those vision boards on a regular basis.
There’s no guarantee, no prescribed way of thinking about the future and planning. It really does need to be what works for you.
Any way you choose to do it, it’s important to think in terms of those goals that you want for yourself, that vision that you want so that you can ensure that you are walking the right path. And so that you know when you achieve things so that you can come back to one of the earlier points and take some time to reward yourself for that.
Final Tips for Healthy Work / Life Integration
To summarise, when you’re thinking about achieving healthy work life integration or, if you prefer, how to balance work and life, some of the areas to consider are:
- being mindful and reviewing and thinking about how you’re doing so that you’re living intentionally
- thinking about how you’re rewarding yourself and spending your time
- taking time away from people who aren’t helping – those energy sucking people
- ensuring you’re building moving and exercise into your life
- building in small breaks and different activities to keep you relaxed and motivated
- thinking about what your goals / vision need to be