Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance: Does It Exist?

Is it really possible to achieve a balance between work and life? Are we capable of fitting it all in? The term Work-Life Balance became popular in the 1980’s when corporations did not offer much in the way of flexible options. Picture a seesaw with work loading down one side and everything else, a.k.a. life, on the other side.

Many people have come to the conclusion that work-life balance is a myth, especially living in our all-consuming tech world. Email, smart phones and tablets blur the lines between work and all else. The office and our clients can reach us anytime, anywhere. We find ourselves “on” 24/7. There is always a lot to do and too few hours in the day to get our to-dos done.

Cali Yost, author and CEO of the Flex+Strategy Group, has given work-life balance a new name, work-life fit. Balance implies that work and life are at opposite ends which we know is not true. Work-life fit is a proactive approach, giving people more flexibility than they realize. Work can be a variety of win-wins for workers and employers.

In her book Work + Life Yost points out that the key is to find the fit that’s right for you which will allow you to be in control. You get to spend time with the people who are most meaningful in your life and to decide how much time and energy you put into activities.

Below are 12 work-life fit tips that will help you focus on the activities that are most meaningful to you:

    1. Set crystal clear goals. Identify the goals that are important to you such as, work, professional, family, friends, keeping fit, your faith, and even fun. Too often, we are on autopilot and do not think about the ways we spend our time. If you want to make partner in a law firm, be prepared to devote the time and energy it will require. Clarifying your goals will serve as a roadmap going forward.
    2. Ask yourself for every activity you are involved in: Does this activity add value? Does it meet my goals? Evaluate each and every project. Are you spending too much time and energy on an area that will be of little consequence to you in the long run? Eliminating a task can free you up to work on priority projects. For example: Do you still need to be attending association meetings from an earlier career? You might be able to meet your friends somewhere else and not be bound to a particular meeting time.
    3. Eliminate as many errands as possible and combine the rest. Take a critical look at your errands which can take a chunk out of the day. Consider outsourcing whenever possible and batch the rest together. Do errands together that are in the same part of town.
    4. Exercise. Study after study shows that working out benefits the mind and the body. You’ll need to carve out the time because it won’t happen, especially if your schedule is jam-packed, without being proactive. Make the time because it certainly won’t come to you.
    5. Get enough sleep. Sleep-deprived individuals do not think clearly. Lack of sleep causes problems regarding focusing, stress, and sometimes serious medical issues. The Better Sleep Council survey in 2013 found that almost half of all Americans do not get enough sleep. (http://bettersleep.org/better-sleep/the-science-of-sleep/sleep-statistics-research/better-sleep-survey)
    6. Start slowly and keep a journal. If you decide that you want to make a change in your work-life fit, do it gradually and mindfully. There is no need to rush into this. Even small changes can have a big impact. Keep track of these changes with a journal.
    7. Find a balance between work and enjoyment. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. There’s some truth to that. Plan on doing fun things such as spending time with family and friends, learning a hobby, or taking a class to advance your professional career. All of these activities will expand your mind and, believe it or not, make you better at your job.
    8. Set boundaries. Are you going to answer that text or email on a Saturday afternoon? Let your clients and colleagues know what is acceptable. They will appreciate your candidness.
    9. Say no, especially if it interferes with your goals. If a supervisor asks you to handle a specific project, ask him/her what project(s) you should work on first. If you report to several supervisors, let them make the decision.That way you can stay out of it.
    10. Re-evaluate your goals periodically. As life changes, so do our goals. Set a certain time quarterly to sit down and review your goals. Mark it in your calendar. Something may have changed that could affect your current list of goals. For example, a promotion, or a new baby, might cause you to rethink the future.
    11. Select an accountability partner. Bounce ideas off of someone you trust who can help you stay on track and meet your goals. Ask someone who is committed to your well-being such as a co-worker, a friend or a coach.
    12. Reduce the amount of television you watch and the time on the Internet. Both are black holes. Not many of your activities will get done if you are searching the web or watching hours of television.

 

Make Sleep A Top Priority (Part 2)

We are not sleep specialists but we know that having a goal, finding a strategy, and implementing tactics to achieve that goal will make it far more likely that you will complete it.

How to go about getting more sleep? There are many tips but the ones listed below seem to be universal. According to Dr. Scott Leibowitz:

No. 1: Stick to a sleep schedule; consistency is essential

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night. There’s a caveat, though. If you don’t fall asleep within about 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. Go back to bed when you’re tired. If you agonize over falling asleep, you might find it even tougher to nod off.

No. 2: Pay attention to what you eat and drink

Don’t go to bed either hungry or stuffed. Your discomfort might keep you up. Also limit how much you drink before bed, to prevent disruptive middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom.

Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine — which take hours to wear off — can wreak havoc with quality sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy at first, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.

No. 3: Create a bedtime ritual

Do the same things each night to tell your body it’s time to wind down. This might include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music — preferably with the lights dimmed. Relaxing activities can promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.

Be wary of using the TV or other electronic devices as part of your bedtime ritual. Some research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime interferes with sleep.

No. 4: Create the ideal environment 

True Story: Lisa travelled for business and noticed she slept much better when she was in a hotel rather than at home. She realized her environment at home was a distraction. She redecorated her bedroom to mimic a luxury hotel room – cool colors, no clutter, few mementos, and built-in furniture to hide electronics and papers. In other words: a room that’s ideal for sleeping

Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.

Your mattress and pillow can contribute to better sleep, too. Since the features of good bedding are subjective, choose what feels most comfortable to you. If you share your bed, make sure there’s enough room for two. If you have children or pets, set limits on how often they sleep with you — or insist on separate sleeping quarters.

No. 5: Limit daytime naps

Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep — especially if you’re struggling with insomnia or poor sleep quality at night. If you choose to nap during the day, limit yourself to about 10 to 30 minutes and make it during the midafternoon.

Napping can go far in improving work performance, in addition to providing a number of other health benefits. To maximize nap times, limit your shuteye time to 30 minutes, and time your nap between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to match the low point of the body’s circadian cycle: You’ll have the best chance of falling asleep during the few hours after lunch, and it could increase your performance (and maybe even learning capacity) for the rest of the day.

Corporate Wellness Programs Need To Address Sleep And Stress.

Napping can go far in improving work performance, in addition to providing a number of other health benefits. To maximize nap times, limit your shuteye time to 30 minutes, and time your nap between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to match the low point of the body’s circadian cycle: You’ll have the best chance of falling asleep during the few hours after lunch, and it could increase your performance (and maybe even learning capacity) for the rest of the day.

Nearly 90 percent of companies offer wellness incentives for employees, according to a survey from Fidelity Investments. However, only 6 percent of offices had napping rooms for employees in 2011, according to a Society for Human Resource Management survey of 600 companies. Companies like The Huffington Post and Nationwide Planning Associates believe in power naps and offer their employees nap rooms because they believe that it has a payoff – happier, more rejuvenated and productive employees. EnergyPods are like recliners and are located at companies such as Google and Procter & Gamble.

If you work nights, you’ll need to make an exception to the rules about daytime sleeping. In this case, keep your window coverings closed so that sunlight — which adjusts your internal clock — doesn’t interrupt your daytime sleep.

No. 6: Include physical activity in your daily routine

Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping you to fall asleep faster and to enjoy deeper sleep. Timing is important, though. If you exercise too close to bedtime, you might be too energized to fall asleep. If this seems to be an issue for you, exercise earlier in the day.

No. 7: Manage stress

When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep is likely to suffer. To help restore peace to your life, consider healthy ways to manage stress. Start with the basics, such as getting organized, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Give yourself permission to take a break when you need one. Share a good laugh with an old friend. Before bed, jot down what’s on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow.

No. 8: Know when to contact your doctor

Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night — but if you often have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.

Have we convinced you to think about how you can make sleep a priority?

P.S. Be sure and check out these websites.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/sleep-and-productivity

Man sleeping on the couch

Man sleeping on the couch

http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/sleep-deprived-workers-cost-companies-632-billion-each-year

 

Tips To Experience A Work-Free Vacation

IimagesCAZU74SE Is it really possible  to leave the tech stuff home and focus on your loved ones?

Here are some ideas.

2-3 Weeks Before:

• Plan ahead  for meetings and appointments that are scheduled during your  vacation.  Select a delegate, cancel or reschedule.  • What decisions need to be made in your absence?  Empower others  with the knowledge to make those decisions. • Examine open projects.  Make sure nothing is due when you  are away.

• Block off your calendar the day you return for re-entry.

1 Week Prior to  Departure:

• Meet with all  direct reports and key business associates to:

a) Review current  issues.

b) Address priorities.

c) Schedule  meetings for the week you return.

The last Work Day  Before Vacation:

• Leave a  detailed extended absence greeting on your voice mail.  Give the name  and number of a person to contact while you are gone.  Tell  callers you will return calls by close of business the second day  after your return.

• Write an  out-of-office email.  Specify that you will not have access to  email and give names of people who can respond in your absence.

• Take a walk  through your office area and let people know what time today you will be  leaving for vacation.

On Vacation:

• Leave your  work home.

• Relax  and enjoy.

Your First Day Back:

• Take a walk  through your office area; get caught up on urgent issues.

• Check voice  mail and email.  Deal with priority situations first.

Save your favorite vacation photo as your  new computer desktop background.

Going On Vacation? Leave Your Work Behind

It’s summer and time to get away from it  all.  We know that vacations help us rest, recharge, and return to  work more relaxed and more productive.  But the  truth is we still  worry about what we will return to and what we  are leaving behind.
Remember that time does fly, whether you’re  having fun or just plain busy.  The only way to “stop” time is to  punctuate it with key experiences and events that give you pause to  remember.
Without vacations, our years may end up being  a blur of busyness and stress.  When we separate our vacations  from work, we are free to enjoy relationships and build  memories.
This year let’s make it a  work-free getaway. Put aside the urge to be efficient. Forget about email, your office, and managing your time to get the most done in the day. Enjoy the time — and the opportunity — to do something else. When you return from vacation, you will feel renewed and ready to tackle the work load.
Please feel free to write to us at any time and let us know how you are spending your vacation this summer.

Too Busy To Be Productive?

We’re all busy. In fact, the busier we are the more important we may see ourselves. Everyone you know is running hither and yon and always on the go with never enough time to get it all done. That’s true. There is never enough time to do it all. As hard as we try, we can not achieve everything. Once we accept that idea, then perhaps it is easier to shift our view from always being busy to being productive when it counts.

Simply said: We have the time; It’s how we choose to spend it. When someone says she/he does not have time, it just means that other activities are higher rated  and take priority. So, how do we distinguish between busy and productive? It is a matter of deciding what matters in life, what you want to achieve and how to work at it on a daily basis. While we all have things to do, we do have choices.

In “The Busy Trap”, Tim Kreider blogs in the NYTimes that busy is self-imposed. Adults are often addicted to busyness. People take on projects, work and obligations voluntarily. They even do that to their kids. That doesn’t leave much time for idleness — the time to read, think, dream and connect with family and friends. These are the types of activities that free up your brain to wrestle with problems and ideas and come up with solutions. It is similar to the restorative properties of getting enough sleep. Often, when you allow your mind to wander a bit, you can be more productive at the times it’s most important. You will perform at a higher caliber and get done what you set out to do.

The next time you have a choice between working late or having dinner out with friends, consider the options before you tell your friends you are too busy. Perhaps relaxing with good companions may have a far more restorative effect than you realize. Then you’ll be ready to tackle a big project the next day.

Contact us at: Info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com or call 404.303.8431 to find out how you can make your day meaningful and productive … with less busyness.

 

 

 

 

 

Plan Ahead For Your Summer Vacation

Are you planning on taking time off from the office this summer? We’ve all experienced the mad-rush just before leaving town and the stress associated with it. Read on for ideas that will make the start of your vacation much more relaxing.

1) Take 30 minutes three weeks ahead of time to identify the projects that need to be done — or at least addressed — before you leave.

2) Create a list of to-do’s that need to be accomplished for each project. Include specific actions and due dates. Write each to-do on your daily to-do list whether it is paper or electronic. The more detailed you can be, the better. Once a task is written down, it is far more likely that it will get done.

3) Review meetings and appointments that are scheduled during your vacation. Delegate, cancel or reschedule.

4) Inform co-workers and colleagues regarding possible issues that might arise in your absence.

5) Schedule meetings for the week you return but not the first day back in the office.

6) Put an out-of-office notice on your email and phone.

7) Enjoy your vacation and forget about work while you are gone from the office. You will return refreshed with renewed vigor and energy.

Click here for more tips on how to experience a work-free vacation.

Vacation Without Your Tech Stuff

It’s Memorial Day weekend and many of us have made plans for relaxation away from the office. Can you switch off your your smart phone, Ipad, and laptop? Or are they going too? Study after study shows that we return to work energized after a clean break from technology and the day-to-day routine. Not being encumbered with work-related problems leaves our mind free to enjoy new experiences and the people around us.

What can you do to ease the transition so you can enjoy a care-free vacation? Here are some tips:

1) Tackle projects that need attending to weeks in advance. This is definitely not the time to procrastinate.

2) Allow plenty of time just before you leave to finish tasks that are on your mind.

3) Cancel or reschedule meetings and appointments. That alone will help put your mind at ease.

4) Leave time for “re-entry” into the business world when you return from your getaway. Put off appointments and meetings for a day or so until you have had a chance to get your bearings.

Now are you ready to leave your technology aids behind and bring back wonderful memories that will make you smile   every time you remember them?

Need help getting organized before you leave for vacation? Email Leslie and Barbara at: nfo@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com or call 404-250-9600 to speak to us directly.

 

 

All Work & No Play

This week’s Turnaround Authority blog discusses work-life balance and how to achieve it. Lee Katz points out — rightfully so — that work with no breaks stifles creativity and efficiency; too often we fall prey to our electronic devices and forget about the importance of leisure time.

As a productivity specialist, I couldn’t agree more. Many professionals I work with feel compelled to check their emails at all times of day and night, even on vacation. During the day they are constantly being interrupted and stressed out with rush projects that need their attention immediately. They put out fires and leave the “undone” tasks until after the kids are in bed when they finally are not interrupted. There goes the chance to read a good book or to catch up on the day’s events with your significant other.

Part of this is a mind-set — for many of us work is all consuming and we forget about “down” time and how it recharges our batteries and our creativity. That’s why work-life balance will only happen when we consciously create it. Those much-needed breaks will help our personal frame-of-mind and bring about continuing business success.

Part of the technique is to use work time effectively so you accomplish your work goals during the day.The second part? Plan your leisure time … something, anything, just not work. A vacation or weekend morning’s activity without an electronic device is, we promise, doable. And, the best part is that you will feel refreshed, renewed and ready for those challenging problems that need your creative juices.