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Work no-life balance

Working even smarter to make life fun again - a two-minute article highlighting Work/Life balance issues

The need for striking a healthier work/life balance (WLB) is nothing new. Some Ancient Greeks opted out of work altogether, routinely using slaves to do it for them. Aristotle provides insight to the mindset of that time believing slaves to be mere tools, which just happened to be alive. Sounds familiar? He argued that citizens (the privileged ruling-class ‘patricians’) should not work “since leisure is necessary both for development of virtue and for the performance of political duties”. Nice one.

Some modern day slavery persists even, covertly and illegally, in Western society, though most has long since been banished for being cruel. However, if you consider yourself to be a slave to your employer or (as commonly)… to yourself, then read on.

And as for those patricians… they also remain live and kicking in the 21st century. I’ve worked with numerous business leaders who have been described by their colleagues as “patrician”. Negative top down ‘behaviours’, such as issuing endless dictates or routinely teaching in a didactic style, fail to get the best out of any of us. So maybe the world has not moved on as much as we might like to think it has. The good news is that for every human flaw there are answers - though the particular ideas that one person chooses to embrace to accelerate constructive change are bespoke to that individual – there are no WLB 'magic bullets' that are right for everyone.

My one and only tip is at least to start the delicate process of suspending further disbelief that work/life imbalance is your lot in life. Easier said than done, isn't it?

Here is a selection of topics that people bring to the table. Please do get in contact, without any obligation, if you or a colleague at work might like to talk to me about a particular situation. The best way to get in contact with me is via Linked In or by email at the base of this blog.

1. Email - daily curse or valuable time saver?

  • Dos and don’ts for getting the best from this omnipresent medium.
  • How to structure emails to get key messages across quickly - so many of us rabbit on and on and on in our emails. Workplace email is no place for that.
  • Similarly, how to take practical steps for reducing email ping-pong, which is the bane of so many people's lives.
  • Adopting a stricter etiquette for selection of subject headings to make emails easier to search for (and to delete with greater confidence).
  • How long is it acceptable to hold back from replying/check one’s inbox?
  • When and when not to use email.

2. Running meetings designed to have definite outcomes

  • Creating a productive environment, where participants genuinely want to attend and contribute towards.
  • Varying the tempo to keep your participants awake and hopefully engaged.
  • Opening and closing meetings so that purpose and results are explicit. What specifically was achieved? Did the result achieved justify the true cost in terms of time and money?
  • Did you invite the right people to attend for the right amounts of time?
  • Punctuality plus keeping to time. It's a cardinal sin to mess with timings.
  • Being fair with agendas so that participants don't feel rolled over.
  • Active avoidance of sudden meeting requests.

3. Time management and prioritisation of work load

  • Self-organisation.
  • To-do lists – which approaches are best for addressing this age-old necessity? When and how to write these so that your days achieve more.
  • How much work should one take home, particularly if one lives miles from one's workplace?
  • How to add value and then add even more value?

4. Giving oneself permission to have a life outside of work

  • Entirely valid reasons that so many have become addicted to their work in 2016 - how to kick those bad habits that have gradually built up to conspire against one?
  • Dealing decisively with those pangs of guilt for not working 24/7 or of neglecting own friends/family.
  • Work addictions comes in many forms - what are yours? Can there be an antidote that really works? Can you fathom out when did the addiction started and for what valid reason(s) (at that time)?

5. Maintaining energy levels throughout the day

  • Sleeping deeper and for longer to recharge your batteries. Did you know that having just two six-hour nights on the trot can make you behave similarly to being clinically drunk?
  • The importance of fresh water, healthy nutrition, the right types of exercise and some fresh air - all seems rather straightforward and logical though it may be more problematic than you might think - particularly with your heavy work load.
  • Reasons for banishing mobiles and tablets (the electronic types) from the bedroom - many of my clients admit to checking their emails at around 3am, just to be absolutely certain that there are no crises to prepare for ahead of the following day. What if there was? What if there wasn't?

6. Confident decision taking

  • Taking personal responsibility and being decisive. Experimenting with different ways to crack stubborn problems.
  • Dealing decisively with problems that can consume valuable time – e.g. the ‘Dinosaur theory’.

7. Motivation

  • Ability to inspire self and others to work hard and productively.

8. Setting work/life boundaries

  • How do others cope with a full-on career whilst still having ‘a life’?

9. Failing memory plus the impact that has on trust

  • Failing to deliver on time? Do important tasks get forgotten about in the mêlée of activities from early morning to evening? Have you ever been unfairly labelled as being untrustworthy due to late or inadequate delivery of promised work as it simply slipped your mind?

10. Controlling moodiness

  • Ways to maintain a positive outlook. Keeping oneself on top of negativity that can disrupt one’s mental state of wellbeing and effectiveness. Identify and manage own/others emotions to stop emotions interfering with message.

11. Is it genuinely possible to say ‘No’ without repercussion or is this concept a cop-out?

  • Too kind at own expense, whilst doing your utmost to actively maintain good work relations with colleagues?

12. Delegating and empowering

  • Dealing with the practicalities of passing work on to others who also have friends and family to juggle with. Others may not do it exactly as you would do it yourself, though does that matter? Being super-clear on the goals.
  • Am I inadvertently be projecting an image of superwoman or superman - how could that be negatively impacting on my WLB?
  • Discovering and experimenting with different leadership styles - e.g. ‘Intent’ style of empowerment – ‘leader leader’ practices.

13. Leading and managing change to drive up performance

  • How to ‘sell’ ideas to help get ‘buy in’ for ideas quicker.

14. Increasing personal resilience

  • Coping mechanisms to counter feelings of feeling overwhelmed, rushed and constantly exhausted.

15. Personal fitness and nutrition

  • Are you looking after long-term health – mental and physical? Feeding a healthy mind and body.
  • Fully aware of the need for the right types of fuel to keep me going or have I got into the habit of eating on the run?

16. Keeping the attraction of commonplace negative ‘escape mechanisms’ in check

  • e.g. alcohol and others (best not mentioned here - yes that and that).