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.


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The “SALARY QUESTION” During Interviews…

[WARNING]: Consider this advice only if you are in a position to choose an employer. If not, please PM me, I have an alternative approach.

I feel strongly about this part of the interview process and I personally think interviewers or other people, apart from our spouses or parents or tax bureau, have no right or justifiable grounds to demand this from a candidate.

Having said that, never be afraid to walk away from a seemingly good opportunity if they make the salary question a big deal; except if, the employer wants to know whether they can afford you. But even in this case, your salary expectations should suffice, unless you want to work for them for a lower rate than what you are already getting. In that case, share it and proceed.

Before we start, here are some of the reasons why I believe employers would want to know your current salary (if you have others, please by all means, share them in the comment box):

  1. The employer wants to ensure they don’t overpay the candidate by giving him or her more than 40% of current salary (regardless if their budget for the position is double the current salary).
  2. The employer wants leverage during the negotiation. If they like the candidate and they know the current salary, they can work within that range and eventually provide a seemingly attractive offer based on their current rate. Anchoring the first offer from that perspective.

Think about it, if the organization treats you like this while you’re not yet in their payroll, how do you think will they treat you when you already are?

Below is a sample conversation that might happen when an interviewer asks you about your current salary.

[DISCLAIMER] You may find the discussion below too familiar…it’s purely coincidental.

INTERVIEWER: What is your current salary?

CANDIDATE: Based on the role, expectations, and industry standard, I would expect a base salary package of X.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, but that’s not what I asked for. I need to know your current salary. We can only move to the next level of interview once we have this. We ask this from all the candidates.

CANDIDATE: I fully understand that some companies require this information. However, I consider my salary, highly confidential. And I don’t openly share it apart from my spouse/parents/dogs. The last one is a joke (smile).

INTERVIEWER: All our applicants have to submit this information and there are no exemptions. If you can’t give us this, then I guess we can’t accept your application.

CANDIDATE: I would really love to explore a role in your organization and I am sorry to hear that the salary expectations I just shared would not suffice. I really hope you would re-consider even if I don’t divulge what I believe is confidential.

INTERVIEWER: I am sorry but we can’t.

CANDIDATE: I respect and understand your position on this. Thank you for being candid and up front about it. I really appreciate it. Please do let me know if your policy on this has changed.

End of discussion. You both shake hands and stay connected in LinkedIn.

However, in certain cases, the discussion doesn’t end. And it may go something like this:

INTERVIEWER: Look, we really like you to join us. But this decision of yours is making it really difficult for me to get you to the next level. I hope it’s you who would re-consider.

CANDIDATE: I am really sorry to hear that and I don’t mean to make it more difficult for you than it should be or for anyone else for that matter. That’s not how I operate.

INTERVIEWER: I am glad to hear that. Now, regarding your current salary, we assure you that we’ll treat it confidential. We take confidentiality here really seriously.

CANDIDATE: I have no doubt about that. Seriously, it’s not you, it’s me (smiling). Just kidding. I’ll tell you what, maybe we can arrive at a compromise, could you by any chance share with me the salary of the person who previously held this position?

INTERVIEWER: Unfortunately, I can’t. Those things are confidential.

CANDIDATE: Don’t worry, I can keep a secret. I am very good at it (smiling again). I have another question, what would you do if you found out one of your current employee is sharing with other recruiters his salary?

INTERVIEWER: That’s a major policy violation. Because it potentially exposes our salary structure to our competitors.

CANDIDATE: If I divulge my salary to you now, would you still trust that I won’t do it again in the future? How would that work for us if I join?

INTERVIEWER: I see where you’re getting at here. It’s the first time I heard such a compelling and respectful argument to this policy. You’re exactly the type of person we need in our organization. I would love to see you progress and eventually join us, I’ll talk to my superior about your request. I don’t know if this will do anything, but heck, it’s worth a try. I’ll get back to you on this.

CANDIDATE: Thank you. I am more than willing to wait for your advice.

End of discussion. Both of you shake hands and stay connected in LinkedIn.

Please share your thoughts, below.


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