The 4 Step Strategy to a Work-Life Balance

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We are all busy people. FACT! Therefore, it's key to strike a balance and dedicate time to all areas of our lives that are important: Work, Family, Health etc.

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So, how do YOU find that perfect balance? Is it possible to achieve success while maintaining wonderful and happy relationships with family members/friends etc AND maintain good physical health?

Well, I think so, but it takes effort and you need to keep on strategy.

Looking at my own life I am always doing some. I love to get out on my bike or hit the gym, but I also like to set aside time to work on my business interests as well as time for writing. Recently I was in Paris with my wife and had all the good intentions of sitting in a cafe for a few hours each day writing. How much writing do you think I actually achieved? Correct. Zero! 

The plan initially seemed fine but I realised that the approach of 'a little bit each day' isn't me. I'm more of a 'get it all down now' kind of guy when completely free from distractions. In Paris, my mind had set me up for failure, which then made me feel bad. That's why, for me, even working from home at times is not the best idea either. A friend of mine also has the luxury of being able to work from home, but rents out a small office space five minutes from his home. Why? Because if he didn't he'd never get sh#t done. He has a small child and although he has a wonderful wife who is very supportive, the temptation is always there to help with the baby or just play with her given how adorable she is.

So, like many, I too find a quiet space away from distraction. Some of my most fruitful work has actually been done whilst sat on a train where it's quiet and there's nothing else to do for a few hours. Whenever I am free from distraction I follow through, everything flows and I don't have to beat myself up for not completing tasks I set. To me, that's my idea of balance, to you it might look very different but that's okay.

The great news is there are a few strategies that anyone can use to find a work-life balance that feels right for you.

Strategy #1. Know How You Work Best

Just realising your style and what works for you can help massively. It's possible to have both a 'consistent' pattern and 'work in a burst pattern' and to combine them in your life. For example, my exercise routine is very consistent but I tend to write in bursts when I feel inspired. Know what works for you and stick to it based on what activity you are doing. Doing this will help you be happier, efficient and more productive. Just realising how you work in different areas of your life and accepting this can make a huge difference.

Strategy #2. The Big Things

The big things, as I call it, refers to all those things in life that SHOULD matter and are technically your MUSTS. These include your relationship with your partner and children, your health and personal projects that are important to you like starting a business.

The key to remember here is although each big thing might be equally important to you, it doesn't mean that each thing will require equal time spent on it. The focus here is about quality, not quantity. For example, a regular gym session for 45 mins three times per week may not sound like a lot to some people, but take it from me when I say that intensity in 45 minutes beats 2 hours in a gym every time for me. Another example could be a scheduled date night with your partner each week or spending time playing with your children on weekends playing for 2 hours. Whatever it is the important thing here is to be present in the moment. It's about quality time. So yes that means no checking emails on date night (switch the damn thing off) and not taking calls when playing with your kids. As a result, you'll feel more fulfilled and develop better relationships. However, still knowing you devoted time on the 'things'  important to you will also make you feel great and help develop a sense of balance in your life.

Strategy #3. Be Disciplined 

Set yourself some rules and stick to them. 

When working there will always be tempting offers to get you avoid what needs to be done. Your brain, remember, is designed to protect you so, at the thought of developing and moving forward, it will try to do everything it can to distract you. A friend calls and invites you for a drink or to watch the game but you need to stay focused and turn them down. The only thing you should allow to distraction is your family and loved ones because they count as one of your big things.

Sticking to the rules you set will help you focus on the tasks at hand. Of course, you'll need to be flexible from time-to-time especially if you have a family but it's definitely possible to be flexible and maintain balance. Balance is about doing what you need to do and at a time when you need to do it. Don't feel guilty for needing to work and being disciplined with people, but equally, make sure you're present with those you need to be present with when not working.

And finally....

Strategy #4. Reward Yourself

Celebrate the successes and reward yourself. Whether you are the person who consistently hits the gym or you spend those 2 hours of uninterrupted quality time with your kids, whatever it is, make sure you celebrate doing things well and celebrate when you stay on strategy. It takes discipline to dedicate yourself to the things important to you and those that 'show up' and 'complete' things get all the good things in life and DESERVE to. So, when you've found that balance, reward yourself with something.

Even if it's one hour to yourself indulging in a massage, make sure you do it. You'll be more inclined to stay on strategy the next time knowing a reward is waiting for you.

By Richard Kennedy

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