The Most Effective Work-Life Balance Advice

Here it is…

STOP believing there’s one!

Work-Life balance is a lie, a myth, and unattainable. Was that too harsh? Let’s try a different approach. There’s no such thing as work-life balance (I don’t think that made it better, either). Before you click the back button or before you flag this article, read on a bit more; I assure you, it gets better (fingers crossed).

We all have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That gives us exactly 168 hours in a week; nothing more nothing less. Everyone, regardless of gender, race, nationality or income will have the exact amount of time in their hands. Isn’t it amazing? The greatest equalizer of all time is time itself. I don’t know about you but I find that re-assuring.

I suppose most of us when we say work-life, we define life as everything other than work (which excludes household chores, errands, etc.). If so, here’s and illustration of how a balanced work-life would look like for a typical working person (on a weekly basis).

Okay, almost balanced. But how do you find the table? Does it inspire you? Do you get it, now? Even if we do achieve the number of hours above, I don’t think it will give us the results we want. On the contrary, this might just make us more miserable. Who would want to constantly keep tabs on the hours and activities day in day out? And wouldn’t that alone, be a tragedy?

Pause for a moment and let this sink.

Don’t worry. Although it looks grim, there’s hope. Instead of achieving balance between work and life, why don’t we try these?

a.   PRIORITIZE our life.

“If everything’s important, nothing is.”

We need to set our priorities. If you don’t set your priorities and protect them, someone else will. Sadly, most of us allow others to set our priorities for us and then complain why we can’t have a fulfilling life.

We can take the reigns back and we should. It’s pretty simple. List down your top three (maximum four) priorities in life and then, make sure you allocate a lion’s share of your TIME, ENERGY and ATTENTION to each of them based on level of importance. Number one priority gets the most, and so on.

Review your list daily and protect them. If you know your priorities, you will have the ability to say no to a lot of other things and live with it. If they don’t matter much, they should have the least amount of your time, energy and attention. Common sense? Yes, but usually not common practice.

b.  INTEGRATE work and life.

“We work to live, not the other way around.”

Whether we like it or not, work is part of our lives; just like our relationships, hobbies, other things. If we go back in history, work has always been a family endeavor. In fact, this still holds true in some areas around the world.

Unfortunately, this changed during the industrial revolution, when fathers and mothers had to leave their families to work at factories. Thus, alienating work from our personal lives. This wasn’t how it used to be when families worked together to earn a living.

Don’t you find it funny, those who earn from illegal means usually have no problems involving their families in their line of work while those earning from decent jobs most of keep their families from helping them? How about you let your son, daughter or spouse do some of your paper works? Bring them to work, train them, show them what keeps you busy. Let them in on the fun. Ask your boss and HR to include it as part of the company policy. You get to share the load, your family gets to know you more, your company gets more workers for the price of one. It’s a win-win!

c.   BE PRESENT at the moment.

“You cannot be in two places at once.”

Whether you’re at work, home or vacation, be there, be present, 100%; body, mind and spirit. How many of us daydream about a perfect holiday at the beach while at work; and think about work (worst, do work) while on a perfect holiday at the beach? Please raise your hands.

The only way to enjoy the moment and make the best out of it is to be present at that moment, period. Stop checking on your phone when you don’t have to and start connecting with the person across the table or beside you. Resist the urge to open that laptop while you’re in your swimsuits; it only looks cool in commercials, not in real life.

Think about it, if all of a sudden, you disappeared from this world, what would happen to the work you leave behind? Yes, someone else will take over it; even if you’re the CEO. Small steps go a long way.

You may find these three too idealistic; they are, but they are also doable and practical. I have personally adhered (although far from being perfect) to them and it has done wonders in our lives. That’s why I’m sharing it.


For more thoughts and tips, follow the hashtags: #Leadingwhereyouare, #Leadingwithapurpose, #JeffManhTalks

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Author: jeffmanhilot

Jeff is a passionate believer in people and leadership skills development; he invested 16 years in both local and multinational FMCG companies. He began his own leadership journey in 2006 and started coaching and training in 2007, building high performing teams and developing next generations leaders. He had the privilege of managing teams he inherited and teams that he had to build from scratch; eventually allowing him to lead individuals from different generations. Jeff now coaches and trains leaders on a full-time basis; he also consults for local and multinational organizations.

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