3 steps for a sustainable work/life balance
The pandemic has made indelible changes to the way we work. More people than ever before are either working remotely or more flexibly in hybrid roles. And where it’s possible, working from home is a popular choice. In fact, surveys indicate that 80% of people would recommend working remotely to a friend.
However, working from home can also blur the boundaries between work and life – making it easy to start your workday right from your bedroom and well into the evening. Before you know it, each meeting and day can start to blend into the next, creating long non-stop workdays which drain your energy and impact.
What is work/life balance?
Work/life balance is about the quality of the hours you work or live, not the quantity. Simply said, five minutes of being present with your team or your children is worth more than being with them for a day if you’re in your negative mindset or ‘saboteur mode’. Similarly, a long day of work in a positive mindset, being present will be energizing for you and the people around you. A short day in saboteur mode is energy draining for you and others.
Here are three things to keep in mind when creating a sustainable work/life balance:
1 Plan your day for energy and impact
Take five minutes every day to plan your calendar for energy and impact. An important part is to block out time for your priorities including yourself before every minute of your day is scheduled. This means setting aside time for your mental health and physical health, including nutritious meals and sleep.
Some people think that building in time for their own well-being is egoistical. Actually, it’s essential if you want to be at your best for you and the people around you. It’s a way of energizing and becoming more impactful in everything else you do. The reason?
For our brains to be mentally fit, and deal with challenges using a positive mindset, we need about twenty minutes of ‘power breaks’ every day. A power break is a real break for your mind where you focus on one thing and let go of all your other thoughts. How can you plan a power break?
Top Tip: Happy and effective leaders start their day with a power break of 15 minutes or more to increase their mental fitness from the start. Then plan in 2-minute power breaks every 2 hours, so you can recover faster to a positive mindset during the day
2 Build in flexibility
Life and work rarely go to plan. They’re full of unplanned changes and challenges. That might be a demanding colleague, client, or high priority activity.
To deal with unexpected challenges in a positive mindset, you need to plan in time in your schedule to deal with the unexpected and plan in time to reset. Transition your mindset from fear to being present.
Dealing with the unexpected means you may have to ask for help, or delegate tasks to someone else who might be a better fit to deal with them. Accept that the activities you do that day might need to be re-prioritized to enable the most energy and impact. This means that something might not get finished, or will have to be moved to a later time.
Top Tip: Happy and effective leaders plan in 1 hour for the unexpected every day, so they can respond to without having to change or extend their schedule
3 Pre-empt your saboteurs
For many busy people, planning the day is the easy part. The real challenge comes when you need to stick to your plan, especially when anxiety or other negative thoughts and emotions (caused by your saboteurs) show up.
When you need to say ‘no’ to an activity or are unable to finish something, it can sometimes feel uncomfortable or even stressful to stick to your priorities. As those negative thoughts and emotions come up, and they will, see them as an alert signal.
Do a 2-minute reset to recover from the fear and switch to a positive mindset. Ask yourself: what activities are most important to me today? What do I need to say ‘no’ to? What can I delegate to others? Who can help me?
Top Tip: Remember, prioritizing your activities is not egoistical – it’s essential for being your best for you and your team!
Planning your day for energy and impact, and pre-empting your saboteurs, helps you to stay present and create better quality time at work and in your personal life.
Time spent being present is quality time, When you are present and in a positive mindset, it’s much easier to empathize, explore, create and activate what is most important for you in a calm and focused way.
When you take back control of your mindset and plan your day, it helps you to be the best leader you can be at work and in the rest of your life. You feel more energized and drive sustainable impact for yourself, others and our world. Find out more by contacting me for a complimentary 60-minute coaching session.
- ‘Positive Intelligence’ by Shirzad Chamine