By Nicole Hagaman, Senior Consultant, TW2 Marketing
When recently asked to present to Hera Hub, an international female-focused co-working space and business accelerator, I decided it was time to talk about work/life balance. Like many other families, I felt the need to focus on this more than usual due to the additional stresses of life during COVID. My husband and I had been adapting to working at home together, juggling our busy zoom call schedules and helping our six-year-old son get through his daily schoolwork remotely. Just thinking about everything I had to get done every week was enough to cause my stress levels to rise!
When I started researching the topic, I came across a concept that resonated with me. Using the term “balance” implies that work and life must be equal and compete for your attention and time. However, our work choices impact our life and life choices impact work. They are interconnected. Changing your focus to achieving “work-life harmony” illustrates that they are both integrated into your life and may ebb and flow at different times.
However, achieving work-life harmony is still no easy task. It requires time management, focus and mindfulness. Trying to be aware and present in each moment means that you must prioritize, set expectations and be diligent with time management. Tracking your time for a period of two weeks can help you understand where your time is going and adjust it as needed. You will fill the hours in the next week with something, but what is up to you.
In the presentation, I discuss how to distinguish between meaningful time and abundant time and various tools that will allow you to “linger” in your life and find more fulfillment. For example, taking a few moments for daily reflection through journal writing can help reinforce your memories of meaningful moments so you don’t lose them.
Managing This Limited Resource
Managing your time is the key to successfully achieving harmony. We have approximately 90 minutes a day when we think most clearly and efficiently (yikes!). Lack of sleep, hydration, caffeine and food make that window even smaller. Think about how to structure your day and use that limited time effectively to produce high-quality work towards a goal or project.
Use Your Time Well
When you’re organizing your day, remember to work on the most critical task early on and consider your environment based on what you’re doing. For example, when you need to innovate or problem solve, try not to do it at a desk. Go for a hike or listen to music and let those ideas flow. When you need to focus, create an interruption-free zone by turning off email and phone alerts. After an interruption, it takes an average of 23 minutes to re-focus. This is not the best use of your time!
Part of effectively managing your time is learning how to say “no” gracefully. Be prepared the next time someone asks you to do something that doesn’t fit into your priorities:
- Create a pause by taking a deep breath – this gives you time to develop a response.
- “Let me check my calendar and get back to you.”
- Clearly decline.
- “I wish I could, but I’m already committed.”
- Share a plausible reason.
- “I have another commitment at that time.”
- “This isn’t my area of expertise, so I have to decline.”
- Offer appreciation.
- “Thank you for considering me.”
Attaining Work-Life Harmony is Up to You
Every week, ask yourself what you would like to accomplish in the areas of work, relationships and self. Be mindful about what you’re doing (and when) and consciously choose how you spend your time every day. Track your time to see where it’s going more accurately, and record memories in a journal to help remember them long term. Try to prioritize and delegate tasks instead of trying to do it all yourself, and don’t overcommit.
There is no “right” way to do things – everyone will have different priorities, goals and personal needs. However, I found that by taking the time to be mindful about where and how I spend my most valuable resource (time) and choosing what I want to do every day, I have achieved a much more harmonious existence over the past several months.
- Off the Clock, by Laura Venderkam
- Work-Life Balance Brilliance, by Denise Green
- The Superwoman’s Guide to Super Fulfillment, by Jaime Kulaga
Senior Marketing Consultant
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