Work Life Balance

The holy grail of modern living is the ever elusive work life balance. Defined as have enough time and energy for work and having a life, is this mystical equilibrium a veritable unicorn or is it a real possibility?

Without it our lives can feel like being on a hamster wheel where we are perpetually trying to catch up with everything we have to do while feeling more and more fatigued as we go.

In our experience, those people that are willing to face the root causes of their constant rushing around are the ones who can create a work life balance that actually works.

“A lot of people are having a more difficult time finding balance in their lives because there have been cutbacks or layoffs where they work. They’re afraid it may happen to them, so they’re putting in more hours,” says psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life.

Here are 3 simple simple steps to put into place that can prevent burnout and make more time for the people that matter most to you.

1. Schedule Downtime

Schedule your time away from responsibilities doing things that recharge you or spending time with those that matter to you. If we wait to ‘find’ time we become buffeted by the needs and wants of those around us. The more organised we are, the more likely we’ll be to ‘make’ the time we need to balance our life.

“It helps to be proactive about scheduling,” says Laura Stack, a productivity expert in Denver and author of SuperCompetent: The Six Keys to Perform at Your Productive Best. “When I go out with my girlfriends, we all whip out our cell phones and put another girls’ night out on the calendar for 1 month later.”

Rituals and routines make blocking out time for yourself or family and friends much easier. Date nights, family days, daily meditation time and regular weekend breaks are a few good examples and will help you achieve a better work life balance.

2. Prioritise

How much of our lives do we spend on low priority things like watching average TV, surfing the web or checking our emails again? Doing these things adds no value to your life but takes time and energy.

“Many people waste their time on activities or people that add no value — for example, spending too much time at work with a colleague who is constantly venting and gossiping,” says Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, a psychologist and executive coach in New York and Connecticut.

Her advice: Take stock of activities that don’t enhance your career or personal life, and minimise the time you spend on them.

Begin everyday with 3 top tasks to accomplish that will enhance your family, personal or professional life. Stay focussed on these high priority tasks and don’t get distracted by low priority distractions until those three are done.

3. Get Moving

“Research shows exercise can help you to be more alert,” Brooks says. “And I’ve noticed that when I don’t exercise because I’m trying to squeeze in another half hour of writing, I don’t feel as alert.”

Many of the people we see have found that scheduling regular movement actually boosts energy and sharpens focus through the day and helps with their work life balance. Getting movement or going to the gym can be made much easier when it a ritual. “I go to gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and Saturdays I’m up on the mountain or surfing,” says a Brad, a Cape Town local. “I build everything else around that and try to include my wife and kids in those rituals.”

Movement includes everything physical like tickle fights, sex, martial arts, tai chi or surfing and not just formal exercise. Have fun and get outside whenever you can, some research suggests that being out in nature has a powerful restorative effect on us.

The Root Cause

At the centre of the work life balance conundrum is an unquestioned assumption that we have to split our lives up between the two. Our work goes in one box and our life goes in another. When we awake to the realisation that there is no separation between these two, there is only our life, then we can begin to activate new sources of energy, drive and enthusiasm deep within us.

Ask yourself these questions and begin the process of tapping into your true potential.

  • What do I love doing?
  • What am I naturally talented at?
  • How can I use these passions to solve the problems of other people?

Where the answer of these three questions converge, you have the recipe for living a life of fun, fulfilment and prosperity. This is the sweet-spot where work and life become one and the balance is revealed.

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