How to get a better work-life balance
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Time, time, time what has become of you?
- Hazy Shade of Winter, Simon and Garfunkel.
The above quote should really a mantra not a track, because we ALL know that feeling – when we’ve lost track of time and before we’ve even begun, the end of the day arrives.
Work has a funny way of getting on top of us. And before you know it, (for most of us) we’ve spent our entire lives manically rushing from one thing to another, our kids have grown up, we’ve lost touch with our partners and that’s all the reality we know.
Our dreams of living life as we intended has slipped out of our hands….
As employees, it’s hard enough but as entrepreneurs – business is life. What started out as you doing what you wanted to do, becomes pressure driven. And there’s no one to blame for the long hours and endless work because you’re in control. Or are you?
But is that it? Do you settle for a life of frenzied insanity or is there another way out? Just because your business is your own and the reality is there’s food to put on the table, mortgages or bills to be paid and as an entrepreneur, people to pay – do you have to compromise on your own personal life?
When we ran a poll on BT Tradespace last year, the average number of hours you said you worked was between 50-60 hours a week, with 60-70 hours following closely behind. This prompted us to set out on a quest to find the answers to help both you and us get the work-life balance right.
What we’ve found, is that it’s about shifting the power – from work controlling you to you controlling work, from time controlling you to you controlling time. Here are some of the gems we’ve found…
How to do you start your week? Do you reach out for your phone to check your text messages or rush to log on and drown yourself in your inbox? Try making your first task of the day to list everything you need to do that week (including things you need to do at home) and distribute portions of it per day. “Always focus on the activities that really create revenue and reduce cost. Those necessary evil ‘admin’ type jobs need to be automated, delegated or streamlined as far as possible.” Advises Janet Davies, founder and editor newlifenetwork.co.uk. You’ll find that when you stop seeing it as one big list and start focussing on small chunks, it becomes more manageable.
Flexible working – it works
If you have staff, you’re not only responsible for yourself having a better quality of life; you also have to help them manage their work-life better. Flexi-work is one way of achieving that balance and it definitely works for us as a team. Technology has its benefits and ‘working from home’ is one of them. With faster, cheaper broadband connections, video and voice conferencing – the possibilities are endless. It’s about enabling yourself and your employees to work remotely. Plus, if this is a route you want to go down, you can even save of real estate and utility costs! Read our guide for more information and help.
Following closely, is an even greater challenge for most entrepreneurs – letting go. As the boss, there’s an element of wanting to be in control. Your business is but naturally, your baby, but advice from ‘Secret Millionaire’, Kavita Oberoi, is that ‘giving the reins to your competent staff will not only empower them and enable them but show you as a great leader’. Watch her video to hear more. ..
Get your priorities right
You know the saying – nobody wishes to have their gravestone engraved with ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office’. But only you know your priorities. Stephen Covey, acclaimed author of the 7 habits of Highly Effective People, used this illustration to demonstrate the power of getting your goals and priorities right. He says, “Suppose you are in Chicago and are using a map to find a particular destination in the city. You may have excellent secondary skills in map reading and navigation, but will never find your destination if you are using a map of Detroit. In this example, getting the right map is a necessary primary element before your secondary skills can be used effectively.”
What are your life goals and priorities? If you need to remind yourself of what they are, take time out and away from the office and your phone to write them down. Now, how much time do you associate with each of those priorities? And how much time would you like to associate with each of those…? Budget your time against your goals for life loud and clear, on paper and stick it beside your PC. Difficult to ignore life when it’s staring you in the face isn’t it?
Bad habits die hard
Some of us work tirelessly for no other reason than bad habit. The Work Life Balance Centre explains this symptom as ‘negative competitiveness’ which is simply the need to ‘out busy’ everyone else we speak to. It can also stem back to beliefs we have grown attached to that stem back to childhood events (E.g. Security, esteem, challenge, self respect etc.). The aim, as the Work Life group explains is, to stop fulfilling these needs through work but plan out fun, creative ways you can fulfil these outside of work. Try it, you might like it!
Get a break
Part of letting go, is about feeling so secure in handing the reigns to someone else, that you can afford to walk away from your business for a week, two or more if you like and have a break. Even if you can’t leave the country, having a long weekend can make all the difference. In fact, take it one step further and take an hour out from work to do what you want. It can help your creativity flow and reduce the stress that comes with being so busy that you’re unable to think! Have a look at our Summer essentials guides for holiday deals.
It’s not just about you, it’s about other people too
Once you know your goal, you’ve got question ‘How can I help the people around me to achieve ‘their’ goals?’ This may be for your children or partners, or for your staff, friends and extended family. It can come through giving a bit of your time, helping financially or simply being there for people who need you. But you need to be aware of what their needs are and how you can help. Remember, gratification doesn’t just come through achieving your own heart’s desires but having the heart to help others achieve their own needs and desires too.
What do you do, when someone says you only have three to six months to live? I would imagine life suddenly falls into perspective, as it did for a virtual reality pioneer, human-computer interaction researcher, Randy Pausch. Pausch spent the last two years of his life, imparting his wisdom around the world lecturing people on life’s toughest questions like – ‘How to manage time‘ and ‘How to achieve your childhood dreams’. If you do one thing this week, we recommend you watch his acclaimed lecture on time management. Among his gems, Pausch explains that we are used to ‘dealing with money as a commodity’ but not so with time and yet, ‘time is the only commodity that matters’. He uses practical tips, such as advising his audience to make calls right before lunch to help keep them short, saying, “You may think you’re important, but you’re not as important as lunch.” Don’t miss it.
Ask for help
Everyone one of us needs help at some point in our lives and when your time comes, you need to be able to recognise that point and ask for help. The thing that we love about the BT Tradespace is that it’s not just about selling, or promoting your business, it’s about support, it’s about community, it’s about connecting.
There’s lots of advice Tradespacers are already sharing if you’re looking for more tips on work-life balance, but one that we love is from Tradespacer, Darina who says, “Go to bed! I know I’m not alone amongst ‘Work at Home Mums’ who find themselves still on the computer at midnight when everyone else is in bed because it’s the only time they get a little peace! But it does no-one any good especially you if you are tired all the time. I use a fee little piece of software that pops up a little man who says ‘Go to bed Darina!’ He stays at the top and keeps talking until you shut him up and go to bed!! It works ”.
Why not use your Tradespace blog to talk about how your business deals with work-life and how your business has benefited? Or if you need advice, ask the community!
You can also spend some of your creative time this Summer thinking up new ways to give your Tradespace that extra zing – take pictures to represent your business or do a video – it can be fun and help work at the same! Change that mantra to ‘Love work, love life!’
This entry was posted by Bian Salins on 26 Jun 2009 at 12:55 and is filed under Newsletter articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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