In my never ending quest for the perfect balance between work and home, and friends and clients, I have been blessed with many great mentors and the opportunity to learn countless lessons for myself and from others. Many of these tips are hard-fought for me. And so, in honor of David Letterman’s famous “Top Ten,” here are my top ten tips on getting to balance.
Number 10: Use one calendar. It sounds simple, but put your personal and your business commitments in the same place so you can quickly see what you have going on and make intentional decisions about where you want to spend your time. How many times has it happened that you inadvertently scheduled a work commitment (or a doctor’s appointment) on top of your child’s school assembly?
Number 9: If you work from home or have the luxury of a flexible work day, set a specific start and end time for your work day. Set clear boundaries so that you do not end up doing “that one more thing” that takes you through dinner time.
Number 8: Never go to bed angry. Resolve whatever the problem is before you head off for bedtime. Trust me, you will sleep better and feel better. Apologize even if you did not start the fight.
Number 7: Take all your vacation days! What are you saving them for?
Number 6: Don’t keep up with the Joneses. Meaning, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, or how many committees they are on, or what activities they pack into their days. Define what balance means to you, and stick to it. I once had a business owner tell me that I couldn’t run my business in just 40 hours a week – and for him, 60 hours was just fine. But guess what? I found a way. You need to find your own way to achieve your balance, not somebody else’s definition of balance.
Number 5: Listen to your body. Really listen. Your body will tell you when it needs a break. This tip is particularly hard, because we become experts at ignoring warning signs. Begin to pay attention to what your body is saying – build that habit of actively listening to when your body tells you it is worn out, or not eating right, or getting sick.
Number 4: If you don’t block time for exercise or physical activity, it won’t happen. Make an appointment to go to the gym, or play tennis, or join your son in a pick-up basketball game.
Number 3: Laugh as often as you can. Find ways to bring laughter into your day. Watch a comedy; listen to the comedy station on your radio; call your favorite jokester friend.
Number 2: Set consistent sleep patterns. This is not just about the number of hours of sleep you get every night (although that’s important too). In addition, get in the habit of going to sleep and rising at about the same time every day. Yes, that includes the weekends. Try it, you will thank me.
And, the Number 1 Tip for Balance: Make time for what is most important to you. Have you ever heard the story of the Mayonnaise Jar, the Rocks, and the Two Beers? In that story, a professor tells his class about the “big rocks”. Those big rocks represent the most important things in your life. If you fill the mayonnaise jar with all the little things (the “pebbles”) then you won’t have room for the big rocks. Put the big rocks in first, the rest will find a space somewhere.
If you want a copy of the full Mayonnaise Jar story, contact us. We would be delighted to share it with you. And let us know which of these Top Ten Tips is more valuable for you? What other tips can you share with our readers?