[Podcast] It's a Balancing Act - Some Thoughts on Work-Life Priorities
A wise person once asked: “How much time do you have in a day?” Answer: “All of it!” We all have the same twenty-four hours, what you choose to do with it is up to you. Now, I’m a realist and know that about a third of that time should be dedicated to sleep to maintain good health, and another third needs to be dedicated to your job unless of course, you’re independently wealthy. So that leaves a third, or about eight hours, per workday. Those eight hours per workday are precious, so treat them as such. Too often long commute times, a little extra work at the beginning or end of your scheduled shift, or agreeing to work overtime, rob you of this time. What you do with those hours is your choice, so choose wisely. Being a team player is good, being a yes person isn’t. Throughout my career, I worked long hours, weekends and said yes to all projects because I believed it would help me stand out and move up the corporate ladder. Well, it didn’t. My approach just burned me out, increased my stress levels and put a serious strain on my family life.
Dictionary.com defines priority as: “the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important.” Keep that in mind, now look at your to-do-list. Chances are you have more than one item listed as a priority. How can you possibly have more than one “…more important” item on a list? A priority is the single most important thing. When looked at in these terms, many of your to-do items might be important, but not a priority. Now, look at your work week and move those important items somewhere else, thus providing a little more breathing room in each of your workdays. Think of the workweek as a balancing scale, then plugin family, social events, work, meetings, etc. in such a way that you maintain a balance throughout the week. I know this is often easier said than done, but if you focus on it, you’ll achieve it more often than not. Maintain one calendar and put ALL your to-do’s, both work and personal, on that calendar to ensure you don’t miss out on important aspects of your family life along the way. Just remember, when scheduling, one’s priority is not always your priority, so don’t be afraid to ask when something MUST be completed so you can plan for it accordingly.
I love platypuses! The freaky little semi-aquatic, egg-laying, duckbilled, beaver tailed, web-footed platypus is the perfect mascot for what I like to call “Incorporated Daily Work-Life-Balance”. Example: I love cycling, yet I could never find enough time to ride before work, after work, or on the weekends. So, I ditched the car and started cycling to work. Incorporating something I love into my daily work routine not only gives me the time I want to cycle, but it also provides benefits I never thought of. First, during my ride to work, I’m thinking of the day ahead and planning my to-do-list, so when I arrive I’m ready to go, try doing that while driving in traffic! Second, if the day was not as magical as I had envisioned it would be, I have a thirty-five-minute ride home to blow off steam, so by the time I get home I’m in a great mood for my wife and kids. Then there are the ancillary benefits; one less car on the road polluting the air and improved cardiovascular health. For me, that’s the ultimate work-life balance. What’s yours? Start thinking outside the box and find ways to incorporate the things you love into your work routine. Use your breaks and lunches to do something you enjoy, or to knock out what you were planning to do after work, like grocery shopping for dinner. Can’t get it done during lunch? Why not take advantage of the delivery options offered through most stores, or your favorite delivery service app, and have those groceries delivered to you at work so you can go straight home and enjoy more family time after work. If you have to work extra hours, ask for a late start, or early out, on a different day to balance your time for the week. If your boss says no, then encourage a rotation amongst your team members so you’re not the only one always working late.
Everyone dies, but some don’t live. Live your life! Make yourself and your family a priority. Take those accumulated PTO or Vacation hours and explore the world around you. What you choose to do with your twenty-four hours each day is up to you. Let your actions speak to who you are and what you value. As you age and approach your final days, it’ll be your family by your side, not your employer, so put family first! “I wish I had spent more time at the office” will certainly NOT be on my headstone.
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