“Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls—family, health, friends, and integrity—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.” — Gary Keller, real estate entrepreneur
A few days back someone asked me my idea of a perfect and healthy work-life balance. I looked at the person with a quizzical expression wondering if there really was such a thing as a healthy and perfect work-life balance!
When I was growing up as a child, 6 pm was the time when Dad would get home and once he was home his time was dedicated to us and the family – whether it was going out shopping or making me and my sister study or just spending time playing with us or talking to us. There was a clear demarcation between work-time and life-time.
In today’s world, we have to do life-splicing, constantly shifting between small splices of time that we devote to work and to life across the 12, if not 24 hours of the day. With the advent of multiple gadgets and ubiquitous technology, the lines between ‘work’ and ‘life’ are blurry at best and non-existent at worst.
So how does one find sanity in all the madness and find that elusive elixir of balance between work and life? I have tried to enumerate on a few things that have helped me find that healthy balance between the two necessary components of being. These have worked for me till now:
Focus on Results: Have a clear focus on what you need to get accomplished in the day, week and sometimes extending to the month. Just as it is important to know what can be accomplished and done, it is equally important to know what cannot be done and will drain your time and resources unnecessarily. This does not mean you procrastinate on your job, but learn to say NO to things that are not critical.
I have a to-do list that I try to maintain on a daily and weekly basis which helps me define what I need to accomplish and at times helps me to say No to things that will distract me.
Health is Wealth: Take time out and ensure that you maintain your health. If you are in good health and you feel good, it will translate into a positive attitude at work and give you the energy to accomplish things in a finite timeline. If you start the day with a workout – a walk, a jog, a run, Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Gym – whatever suits you; it will set up your day with the required energy and focus. It can also serve as a time to help you plan your day.
I try to ensure that I have a daily gym schedule that helps me clear my mind, maintains my health over the long term and gives me some me-time early in the morning.
Family Time: Family time is important and should be non-negotiable on a daily basis. If this means that you ensure that you have dinner with your family daily, then so be it. Make it clear to people that this is your family time and you will call them or meet them later unless of course, it is a critical emergency. Even there you need to have a compass that helps you analyse if it really does classify as an emergency to take time away from your family. This is your time to give to your family – the reason you work so hard after all.
When I get back from office to home, that is my time with my family that i spend on on homework with kids, play a board game, have dinner with them or sometimes just be around on no calls. If a call does come in, I try to have a brief call and tell the person that I will call them back.
Time for Friends: Make sure you have a good friend circle that is not the same as your work circle. Meet them regularly. This will keep you mind off the work pressures over weekends and give you time to just let go. This circle can also serve as a good way to bounce off your ideas and learn new things.
I have a set of three families who are our closest friends and we meet them almost every weekend. All of them are entrepreneurs and our discussions have helped me not just to relive the work stress but also given me ideas that I can implement back in my work. Of course the best part are the laughs, the jokes and the party!
Vacation Time to Relax In my personal view, this is the most important part of finding that balance. Take vacations as much as you can even if these are short 2-3 day breaks over the weekend. Go out with family, with friends or even just by yourself but leave work behind and spend time on a holiday. Explore a new place or just go to the same old places that you had been to. Spend time with friends and enjoy life. After all, thats what you work and earn money for – to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
For us as the group of families, Goa is like a yearly pilgrimage. We have fun while the kids bond and enjoy. And we often take small breaks together.
As you can see a lot of my pointers above are on ‘life’ aspect because ‘work’ will happen and is not going away anywhere. It will chase you and demand its pound of flesh. It is up to you to determine what will run your life – the work part of it or the life part of it.
What are you doing about it? Now go out and have fun!