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Balancing Act

April 20, 2010

In these times it seems that everyone I talk to is putting in more and more hours at work.   I know that I sometimes have a problem of not knowing when to stop working for a day.  There always seems to be projects to finish, emails to respond to, research to be done, new technologies to learn, and so much more.  How can it all possibly get done?  More importantly how can we get everything done without having to put it a ton of overtime?  Any one will tell you that they work better when they are rested and happy.  So where is the balancing point?  How do we get all of our work done while maintaining a healthy life apart from work?  This has been a question I have been trying to answer for years.  Unfortunately there isn’t a magical answer.  What it comes down to is being disciplined, organized, and having an ability to manage goals and time.  The good news is that these are all skills that can be learned.

I came across an article written by Mike Hawkins that outlines some great principles that can help make you successful at work while maintaining a balanced life outside of work.  The article is entitled “10 Principles for Successful Work-Life Balance” and can be found here:

In the article he outlines the below principles:

  1. Set Goals.
  2. Focus on the Important.
  3.  Set Your Own Standards.
  4.  Learn to Say “No.”
  5.  Delegate.
  6.  Be More Productive at What You Do.
  7.  Get Organized.
  8.  Maintain Your Energy.
  9.  Don’t Worry.
  10.  Maintain Some White Space on Your Calendar.

Set Goals – This is so important (Production without Goals, A Goal without a Plan).  If you can’t measure what you are doing then you have no way of knowing if you are being successful or not.

Focus on the Important – Without focus you will not hit your goals.  If you are not hitting your goals then you’re not being successful.

Set Your Own Standards – In other words be a leader and not a follower.  Just because everyone else is working 15+ hours or overtime in a week doesn’t mean you have to as well.  Prioritize not just your task at work but your life outside of work as well.

Learn to Say “No.” – The author says it all “You can’t do everything” so don’t try, it won’t work.

Delegate –Let others help you.  Even if you can do a task 10 times quicker than someone else let them do it.  Doing so helps both of you.  Now you have a backup and they have added value.

Be More Productive at What You Do – Don’t reinvent the wheel.  Look for ways to be more efficient. 

Get Organized – Organization is another one of the important keys to success.  It isn’t just about knowing where stuff is at, it is about having an efficient system that allows you to deal with things quickly and appropriately.

Maintain Your Energy – This is 50% mindset and 50% effort.  Beyond just getting sleep, eating right, and exercising it is important to maintain a positive attitude.  Having a negative attitude will drain your energy.

Don’t Worry – The thing to remember is that the only thing worrying does is increase your stress level.

Maintain Some White Space on Your Calendar – Make time to get away from everything.  Whether it is going to see a movie with some friends or taking a vacation we all need time to recharge our batteries.

In conclusion, maintaining balance between work and our lives is a process that will need to be continually refined over the course of our careers.  Hopefully the above principles will help you to develop your own system for maintaining that balance.


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