It seems the only way to get ahead in a profession these days is to get behind at home. Much is written on finding a healthy work-life balance. It’s a widespread problem that continues to elude people, especially those of us in tech.
Of course, there are days when we all get backed up and over-scheduled. The issue is when these days are the rule, not the exception. You don’t have a healthy work-life balance when you are chronically late to everything — your children’s sporting events, your meetings, even your doctor appointments. The same is true if you struggle to get out of bed in the morning because you worked late the night before.
It doesn’t have to be like this. Here are five work principles you can use to get more done in less time, and get back to a healthy balance at work and home.
5 Work Principles for a Successful Work-Life Balance
- Set Goals
- Focus on the Important
- Set Your Own Standards
- Learn to Say No
Set specific goals with actions and incremental milestones that you can track. Define your goals in terms that create a vivid mental picture of your desired end-state. Written goals help you establish clarity of purpose and provide accountability. Regularly review them and your progress against them. Like going on a road trip, you will get to your destination much easier if you map the best route.
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Focus on the Important
With so many communication channels and other distractions vying for your attention, staying focused is a constant challenge. Don’t let the urgent, the convenient, and the immediate distract you from the important. Stay focused on reaching milestones that support your goals. Be proactive and minimize your distractions. Make a “not to-do” list and adhere to it.
Set Your Own Standards
Don’t mindlessly follow social and cultural norms. Instead, establish your own principles of operations. Define the few principles by which you will operate your business and your life. Let your standards guide you, instead of following the latest and most over-hyped trends.
Learn to Say No
You can’t do everything. You can’t attend every seminar, or go to every social function. You can’t even go to every family gathering. Of course you might like to, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Learn to say no.
If an activity is truly worthy of your time, learn to say “yes, if …” instead of just “yes.” In other words, put conditions on the activities you can influence. For instance, you might say, “yes, if there is a way to shorten the event to a half-hour.”
Just because there are activities you can’t say no to doesn’t mean you have to be the one that does them. No one is successful on their own. Solicit the help of others. Outsource activities that others can do as well as — or better than — you. Delegate responsibilities to people that have more bandwidth.
If you were hit by a bus tomorrow and had to spend the next month in a hospital, consider who would do your work and start delegating it to them now.
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