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What I learned from Talking to People about Achieving Life-Work Balance

How do we carve out satisfying and meaningful lives outside of work? Here are what I found out from my interactions with a number of people.

Is life-work balance possible?

Achieving life work balance is one of the most daunting challenges of our time. A 2014 study published in the American Sociological Review indicate that 70% of American workers struggle with finding a work-life system that works for them. Poor work-life balance can result in work burnout which is usually associated with fatigue, frustration, chronic stress, loss of motivation, and even reduced productivity.

I recently became more enthralled with questions on how to carve out satisfying and meaningful lives outside of work. In my quest, I had the opportunity to interact and engage a number of friends both in the entrepreneurial and academic world. Below are some of my takeaways.

You Have a Decision to Make

One of my major takeaway from my interactions with people on this subject
is the need to decide on what’s most important to you

“You must learn to set your own parameters on what define success for
you”
said Ramon Van Meer, the CEO of Soap Hub.
In my interaction with him, he stressed how important it is to develop a strong
sense of who you are, your values and what is most important to you to achieve
anything remotely related to life-work balance.

This also reminds me of the story shared by Mark Weinberger, the
Global Chairman and CEO of EY. Following a meeting in China, he was asked if he
would be taking selfies with his employees at the Great Wall. He said that
wouldn’t be possible because he needed to be back in Washington, DC, the
following day to take his daughter on her
driving test.

His message resonated with employees. “Afterwards, he got hundreds of emails: Not a single person remembered the terrific speech I gave, but everybody remembered I went home for my daughter,” he tells Time.

Learn to Pace Yourself
and Embrace the Journey

Self-awareness is
one of the secret sauce to achieving life-work balance. Most times we get
carried away by the desire to achieve a goal (or reach a destination) that will
forget to embrace the beauty of the journey itself. Having a productive and happy
life as well as having a successful career require mastering how to pace
yourself. There are times to pace things up and there are times when there
is a need to pace things down, it all boils down to self-awareness.

Embrace Your Own
Balance

What balance
looks like for you might not be the same for me. This is one of things I learned
from Roy Trent, the CEO of Trent Real EstateWhen he was sharing the story of how he started his business with me, he said “it is important to know what makes you happy and then strive to get more of it
in your life. For some, that might skew towards life and for others it might skew
towards work”. Even though Roy spend a bit more time on work he is finding other
ways to achieve the balance. “ I often take
a 15 minute break and just drive to the beach or the park and just leave my
phone in the car to give myself a little break”
he said.

Unleash the
power of “No”

This seems to be
one of the most important skill required to achieve life-work balance. There are many things that want to distract
you from achieving whatever you have defined as success. Learning how
to respectfully say no to activities that do not directly contribute to your
success is a skill you must acquire to have enough time to focus on things that
truly bring you joy. You can decline the offer to serve on an extra committee
or to run the PTA. It’s ok to be selfish about your “me” time.

Work smart with technologies

One of the benefits of the digital age is the ability to boost work productivity with the aid of technology. We now have technologies like virtual assistant, Calendar App, and many valuable chrome extensions that could help boost productivity in different ways. However, technology should be used in a way that help make life easier, not control it. For many people, this might mean shutting down all form of technology when spending time with friends and families or when focusing on certain work. You can work smart by using technology to your advantage for the purpose of achieving the desired life-work balance.

Learn to communicate
It is important to communicate your plans
with appropriate people. For instance, if you won’t be available for certain
hours during the day or weekend, let people know. You can even set-up email
auto-responder to that effect. By so doing, you are putting up a “Do not
disturb” tag and asking for the permission to focus on what truly matters to
you, people will respect you for it.

In summary,  have come to understand that achieving life-work balance is not an impossible task. However, for anyone striving for the balance, there are many things to learn and put into action.

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