There is a lot of emphasis on work-life balance in today’s world. It sounds important but it’s hard to determine what it should look like. The key to creating balance might lie in our ability to create the blueprint for what we want our lives to look like.
We live in an age of pseudo-productivity. A lot of people are really good at doing things that don’t really matter. We are so dedicated to that minutiae that we allow it to keep us at the office late and it creeps into our weekends. The destructive part about this is that we feel like we are really doing something noble in the process. Because of this, we haven’t taken the time to assess the truly important questions that we are too busy to ask about our lives.
If you want to create balance and also create that blueprint, start with these simple questions:
- What are your values?
What’s most important to you? God? Family? Money? Work? Success? Everyone has different values and lacking clarity on your values puts yourself in a position where you don’t have a filter for what should and shouldn’t be done by you. I have four daughters at home and one of my values is family (It better be right?). Because of this, I have a rule that I only travel once/month on business while they are young.
- What are your priorities?
If everything is important to you then nothing is. What are the essential objectives that need to be achieved at work? Those are the things that need to be done. Get clear on those and write them down.
- Should you work on vacation?
I don’t have a problem with this per se. If you do work on vacation be strategic about it. When I work on trips, it’s always in the morning before anyone else gets up that way it doesn’t interfere with family time.
- Are you setting boundaries?
Because my cell phone use was out of hand everywhere we went, my wife once compared me to Ari from Entourage when we were on a date. Ouch. Point made. Turn off push notifications on your phone and don’t take work calls all the time. Check e-mail and take phone calls when you want to do it not when other people want you to do them. Having values allows you to set the right boundaries for yourself.
Balance is about setting priorities and being in control as much as you can. Most people spend their life going where the wind blows them because they don’t have clearly defined values, priorities and boundaries. Get good at these things and you will have all the balance you need.