By Mark Adderley, Senior Associate Consultant and Coach
Last month we shared our thoughts on 4 effective ways to have a great “Work-life balance” whilst devoting our time and energy in to our careers in the ever-changing work environment. We received a phenomenal response to these 4 steps which confirmed that this matter is one which is important for building a life that fits around you.
As well as the 4 mindful steps we gave you in the previous post, there are another 4 practical steps to take to energise you.
1. Prioritise: Important vs Urgent
While Stephen Covey, American educator, author(The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), businessman, and keynote speaker once said,” The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
Although often misquoted, he makes a brilliant point about us spending too much time on things that are just not important but feel urgent. How many of us would want to say on our deathbed that we wanted to spend more time ‘at work’. Take time out to plan all your life’s priorities, after all only you really know those and fill in a two-by-two matrix with four boxes (important and not-important on one axis against urgent and non-urgent on the other. Then schedule what is important (using urgent and non-urgent to judge time) and find ways to get others to handle the less important. Finally challenge yourself on whether that task is really important and if it is a task that ‘only you can do’.
2. Book it in
Our diaries fill up. But they fill up around things that are already booked in. As my own kids grew up, I booked in time to take them out – this could be just two of us or for us all together, particularly for family holidays. This could be a burger, a pizza, a walk or even just a chat. Mostly this was lovely, sometimes embarrassing – particularly when one of my daughters pretended to be a dog in a restaurant around the corner from where I worked, and frequently challenging to keep the date - but always valuable and always an opportunity to just be together and listen to each other, so book in the things that energise you. In management I protected my one to one time with my own manager and my team for the same reasons. If you don’t book it in then you are deciding to book it out.
3. Manage your email: Do, Delay, Delegate, Delete!
Take control of your email or your email will control you. Your emails can be Dismissed quickly if you apply some simple rules. Some are quick and easy to handle – so just Do it (or put it somewhere where you know you will). If you need to do some thinking and it will take time, then Delay, and let the sender know – then make sure you Do it on time. Some can be moved off your desk so Delegate it or pass it to the right place (and let the sender know it is now someone else’s to handle.) Others are just not important – so read and delete or even just delete. The most over used button in email is CC: and the worst BCC: So do think why you are copying in others, and if your advice to them would be to delete it then delete it yourself for them. You will feel a great sense of relief as your email inbox
4. Manage your phone: Don’t let your phone manage you
How many times have you been out to dinner and seen a couple or family all on their phones or been cheesed off at colleagues in meetings looking at their phones. While you can’t control everyone else’s phone you can control yours. Consider Email on your phone, you can turn it off, turn off notifications, separate work from home, and look at it only occasionally. You can turn your phone totally off at night, restrict usage, charge the phone outside your bedroom. Keep only the apps you use and watch your social media usage. Take time to speak to others rather than email or message. No excuses, take control, your phone is yours.
While there is some overlap in these bits of advice, and I am sure other tricks, there are common threads, the main ones being to work out what is important and revitalising for you, prioritise that, dump other things and then book those in – take control of your diary, your email, your phone and improve your “life balance”.
If you would like to explore this issue with a member of the team please contact email@example.com