In an age of constant communication and increased demands of round-the-clock work, almost everyone is struggling to have a blissful family life, purposeful profile at work, community engagement and an inner peace and satisfaction. Some of us, might have up given up this ‘have-it-all’ idea and some have this in mind but do not have time to work on it and get a plan in place to deal with it. A handful of us, who do get time and are able to do something, use the ever-known formula of ‘Work-life balance’.
However, for me, the term is misleading. It makes us to assume that we must always compromise on one side to keep up to another side. Like, we must cut down on our work in order to spend more time with family. This was true in former years, but with changing times and rapidly increasing businesses, it calls for an integration rather than a balance. The work integration, seems to give a more realistic and practical way of dealing with the major four areas of life, which I have described in book ‘The Success Habits’ (Family, Health, Net Worth & Personal). According to a 2008 HBR article, “Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life”, it takes three key principles – be real, be whole and be innovative, to bring this integration to your life. The greater the harmony and integration between the four main focus areas of your life, the better will be the results and lesser the trade offs among your work and life. Another book that might help you and worth reading is “Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life”.
Here are some simple and easy tips to get you started.
Know what matters most
Write your goals down and prioritize them. Each goal should be clear and specific. Write 3-5 goals for each of the four areas of your life and then ask yourself, “If you have to pick only one of the written goals, what would it be?”. Do this for each of the four areas. This is your A list. The ones which you didn’t pick are your B list. Then out of the four goals that you picked, again ask yourself, “if you had to pick only one goal and start working on it, what would it be?”. This is your top goal. So now you have, a top goal, A list and B list. The rule is that you do not start on any goal on your B list until you check off all A list goals. And the top goal gets the highest priority everyday. Break these goals down into activities and prioritize and schedule them. My Life Goal Planner will surely help you out with this process. Or you may refer to ‘One Bite at a Time’ for a detailed approach.
Bring Work and Life on the same page
Sometimes, I see people maintaining different notebooks to keep track of work related tasks and personal tasks. This practice will never give you a complete picture of your day or week. Some personal activities could be prioritized more than your work activities. Maintain a single notebook or tool to track them all, but you can always differentiate with an abbreviation or color code.
Review and Plan Ahead
The very last thing in the night or the very first thing in the morning (before checking mails) has to be a review of the previous day. Clear out tasks and then plan for the upcoming day. List down all activities to be done (for all four areas of life) and then prioritize them. Focus only on the top three (Rule of Three) and you will be satisfied and 80% through your day.
There is much more to it, but these three basic steps will get you started. Integrating all areas of life (includes work) will have many professional and personal benefits for you. However, it takes time and practice to learn this and hence 3 D’s are required, Desire, Determination and Discipline.
“Balance is bunk. It’s a misguided notion that assumes we must always make trade-offs among the different aspects of our lives” – Stewart D. Friedman
Wishing you all the best on your path to a life well lived.
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