Moving forward: balancing act

This gives you another reason to beat yourself up: ‘My work/life balance is
wrong’. But what really matters is remembering from time to time what is really
important to you, your partner and your family, and doing something about it.

It’s healthy to take an objective look at where your time is actually spent.
Companies spend thousands on time management training, but the realities are
simple: there are only so many hours in a week, and how we spend our time
matters. Getting caught up in trivia, unfulfilling work, and things that frankly
don’t matter is a common feature of working life for many.

Effective time management is about protecting ‘golden time’ ­ the time when
you are doing the 20% of things that contribute to 80% of your results.

If that means protecting your thinking time, your planning time, or the time
you spend talking to your team, protect that time with a vengeance.

Another problem busy professionals face is that work is more than a little
addictive. That is usually a positive thing in the early years of your career,
but it’s not a great long-term strategy.

Overwork can lead to lack of perspective and a lack of focus on doing the
right things at the right time.

So rather than asking ‘do I have a perfect work/life balance?’ take a more
simple approach.

Measuring your balance based on hours or time spent at the office isn’t
always enough and isn’t that simple once you consider how much work you do at
home or at external events.

A good benchmark for deciding whether your working life has some balance is
to look back at all the unfulfilled promises you have made to your friends and
family over the last 12 months.

Sometimes you have to live with the things you don’t or can’t do, but then
work actively to improve the margins of your life where you have some influence.

The key issue, ultimately, is honesty. We all need to recognise what we get
out of work, and what it takes out of us, and to recognise work’s impact on
those parts of our lives we hold dear.

Or, to put it another way, when you are 103 and unable to rise out of your
bath chair, what will you regret?

It’s pretty much guaranteed that you won’t be saying ‘I wish I’d spent more
time at the office’.

John Lees, career coach and author of How To Get A
Job You’ll Love

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