A balanced approach to work and life is crucial for overall well-being and long-term success. All illustrations are by Kanupriya Singh.
Yesterday at the Mumbai lounge met an old Twitter connect. We were meeting for the first time physically. And, I have noticed that when people talk to me for the first time they take the conversation to their health and with a guilty face put the blame on their work pressure and lack of time to take care of themselves. We went on to converse on work-life balance and shortage of time. So I spent the next two hours on the flight writing this newsletter.
An important part of work-life balance is scheduling your day. You don’t just wait for the morning when you feel like going to the dentist. You book an appointment.
Ask yourself: How am I planning and scheduling my good habits and desired behaviours?
When was the last time you took a good look at how you were using your time? In particular:
how you are living your priorities through your schedule
how you can and should balance your time
how you can manage your time more effectively to improve and engage
in your chosen behaviour practices
We’ll start by showing you a simple exercise that you can do to improve your awareness.
Step 1: Make a time diary. Grab a paper or notebook, or open a spreadsheet on your laptop or your smartphone’s notes app. Make sure you have a clock or watch nearby at all times. You can also use a time-tracking app. Track how you spent your time today in 15-minute increments
Step 2: Observe and analyse Once you’ve finished your time diary, take a look at it. Add up the time spent on various tasks. For example,
9 hours – at work (in total)
4 hours – at work actually working
2.5 hours – at work cruising Facebook/Twitter/Reels
30 minutes – at work hanging out with co-workers, talking about random things
2 hours – at work making doodles in a meeting
2.5 hours – commuting
1.5 hours – TV
1 hour – workout
And so on…
Then ask yourself:
How am I spending my time? Look at the time spent on all tasks.
What are my top priorities in life? What’s important to me? What brings me joy? If you aren’t sure what your life priorities are, this is a good time to think about them.
How much time am I really spending on my top priorities? Does my schedule reflect my values?
What are my ‘time-suckers’? Time-suckers are things that take up time but don’t really benefit you.
Given this, what could I change about my schedule so that my time reflects my top priorities? What might I need to change or adjust? How could I do more of what I love or more of what I need to do in order to improve my practice?
Notice how improving your awareness of time spent allows you to see areas of opportunity and improvement.
Where are your areas of opportunity and improvement?
do fewer things, but with more focus?
cut down one “time sucker”?
ask for help, or delegate?
uni-task instead of multi-task?
plan and prepare more effectively?
let one small responsibility or task go?
find one small way to chase your joy, or improve your day?
Start modestly! See if you can add 15 minutes of something important while removing 15 minutes of something unimportant. See if you can give a task your undivided attention for a full 5-10 minutes without checking your email or WhatsApp.
When could you give the time diary activity a try?
Consider when it makes practical sense for you, and book it into your schedule.
One more note about time.Life isn’t just about hours. It’s about the nature of those hours. Balancing work and personal life is essential for maintaining physical and mental health, building strong relationships, and leading a fulfilling life.
Whether we’re juggling our responsibilities as parents, or on a mission to meet quarterly targets at work, one factor that always gets in the way of achieving work-life balance is time. There never seems to be enough of it, and many of us aren’t that good at managing the little we have.
Most of us manage our workload by, for example, trying to individually complete every task as it comes. A pattern quickly forms where we drop one task when the boss briefs us on something new that needs attention, which we later abandon because a colleague asks for help with yet another. This approach is far from effective. Ultimately, we’ll end up struggling to finish anything and grow increasingly frustrated about the trail of incomplete tasks.
To remedy this, we first need to understand that only some things are urgent, or even important. By taking the time to figure out where on our priority list a task should fall, we can create a plan of action that allows us to actually complete tasks.
The Eisenhower Principle is a simple but powerful tool that can help you achieve your goals and improve your productivity, both in your personal and professional life.
The four categories in the Eisenhower Matrix are:
Urgent and Important: These are tasks that require immediate attention and are critical to the success of your goals. Examples include meeting a deadline, responding to an emergency, or resolving a crisis.
Important but not Urgent: These are tasks that are important for achieving your long-term goals but do not require immediate attention. Examples include planning, strategy development, relationship building, and personal development.
Urgent but not Important: These are tasks that are time-sensitive but do not contribute to your long-term goals. Examples include responding to non-critical emails, attending unnecessary meetings, or completing tasks that could be delegated to others.
Not Urgent and Not Important: These are tasks that do not contribute to your goals and can be eliminated or delegated. Examples include time-wasting activities, unnecessary social media scrolling, or trivial tasks that do not add value to your life.
Being strategic with our time also means recognizing and accepting that we can’t do everything alone; we should be asking others for help. Sometimes, we find it difficult to delegate because we don’t think that anyone else has the necessary skills, but in many cases, it’s possible to teach others what they need to do. Sure, this might take some time at first, but once they get the hang of it, we’ll have ready and capable helpers at hand. At work and at home, we gain more time and peace of mind when we trust other people to take on some of our workload.
The pressure to succeed in one’s career can sometimes lead to neglect of personal relationships, health, and other important aspects of life. It’s essential to understand that while a successful career can bring many benefits, it should not come at the expense of one’s personal life. A balanced approach to work and life is crucial for overall well-being and long-term success.
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“You can’t do a good job if your job is all you do.” : Katie Thurms.
While being dedicated and hardworking is important for achieving success in one’s career, it is also essential to maintain a healthy work-life balance. When someone becomes consumed by their job and neglects other areas of their life such as relationships, hobbies, and personal interests, they can become burnt out and their job performance may suffer.