Life Hacks For Work Life Balance

The term work life balance has a horribly generic and has almost become nothing but a buzzword with little meaning. I’m guilty of that, making work life balance a core of the life foundations of Do Awesome Sh.it whilst building a business on Passion and Purpose.

We are conscious that the idea of “work- life balance” as a concept has become clichéd and meaningless through overuse. But in its most authentic sense it remains at the heart of what we do at Do Awesome Sh.it while building a business based on Passion and Purpose.

The real problem, the very fact the term exists with the word balance, implies that work and life are always inherently out of balance and we need to fix the balance. It perpetuates the idea that work is always bad, and life is good. Never can the two meet in the middle.

But, isn’t it something we always strive for. The idea, if we can get the balance right, we’ll then be happy? The use of the word ‘balance’ suggests that work and life are mutually exclusive or, at best, difficult to align. We tend to think our happiness is dependent on achieving this balance.

Therefore we’re going to address some truths and myths about work life balance, and then have a little attempt at finding it through suggesting some lifestyle and business hacks.

Below we address some of the truths and myths surrounding this concept of work-life balance and attempt to …..

Don’t fancy reading? Watch the video instead…

What is balanced anyway?

A little exercise:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet apart.
  2. Lean as far as possible to your right hand side whilst keeping your feet on the ground.

Hopefully you haven’t fallen over, but to illustrate the point, you’re still balancing, however, one leg is taking more weight than the other.

You don’t need perfect balance between life and work. Being uneven at times is OK, and it’s now time to look into some truths about that balance…

Four Truths and Techniques For Work Life Balance

These truths are based on my extensive research on what work life balance is but our founded on four principles from a brilliant TEDx talk by Nigel Marsh on How To Make Work-Life Balance Work.

1. So many people talk rubbish about work life balance

It’s a topic that is always going to invite disagreement and different opinions. Nigel Marsh brings forward the point that people talking about work life bias could be inherently biased about the balance.

For example, your employer introducing dress down Fridays, unlimited holiday time and work-from-home hours is just masking an underlining issue:

People work in jobs they’re not engaged with, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.

2. We must design our own lives if we’re to seek balance

Neither businesses, governments nor your employer will change the balance in your life to what you want.

It’s in the interest of companies, even the really good ones, to use you as a resource to your best possible ability to work towards their mission and purpose. They want to get the most out of you, to make them money, or to fuel their own mission or growth.

Richard Branson recently announced unlimited holiday time to all Virgin employees. It all sounds very positive but these perks are only available on the condition that you still meet the targets set by the company. However, the condition is you must still hit the targets set by the company. A stride in the right direction, but the truth is, the employee is still a resource and ideas of work life balance are being exploited to get the most of out each person within the company.

The truth is, we’re the only ones who can control and create our own work life balance.

Work life balance is ultimately a quest for a balanced life and happiness. When exploring happiness by designs, Paul Dolan suggests that happiness doesn’t come from a balance of going to work and then having time at the end of the day to have life — i.e. switch off from work and watch Netflix.

Happiness actually comes from small incremental changes in lifestyle. But most importantly being satisfied, driven and flowing in the tasks you do everyday.

The best way to achieve this flow is be working on something that you’re passionate about, brings you purpose and a sense of meaning.

Seth Godin has often been quoted as saying, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”

To drive this point home, Steve Jobs famously told students at a Stanford Commencement address (paraphrased): “You’ve got to find what you love, don’t settle”.

3. We need to elongate our idea of perfect work life balance

Lets get a little critical of this idea of work life balance and also following your passion to create the life you want.

Cal Newport argues that passion is great, however, there isn’t a lot of evidence to show it as something existing naturally, waiting to be discovered through a major life upheaval and doing work. He argues it takes hard work and planning to develop.

Furthermore, he argues against the classic Steve Jobs quote.

“Do as Steve Jobs did, not as he said”

Cal argues that Steve Jobs didn’t pursue the Apple computer as something he was passionate about, but only after he saw the opportunity did he cultivate passion through pouring his energy into building Apple as a company.

“Passion is something that is cultivated. It can be cultivated in many, many different fields. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to say, “I don’t know what my passion is.” What does make sense is to say, “I haven’t yet cultivated a passion, I should really focus on a small number of things and start this process.”

The point is, find out what matters to you, interests you and you’re good at, work at developing it and cultivate your own passion and meaning out of it.

Back to the last point, only you can start that process. It‘s very difficult to do working for someone else. If you’re going to find your own passion to balance your work and life and enjoy what you do, you need to set your own path.

Creating work life balance is not an overnight task, following passion and enjoying the work side of life will take time to cultivate. Nigel Marsh points out that we have to elongate our view of work life balance.Simply imaging our ideal day and then expecting it tomorrow isn’t going to happen. Seriously, do watch his brilliant TEDx talk highlighting that his ideal day would involve sex at least four times. It just ain’t going to happen!

The point I’m making is to set time for life: family, sport, holidays, hobbies, relationships, spirituality, taking care of yourself, but don’t expect that all in one day. Create habits and time for each, but over a longer period of time such as week. Enjoying your work also helps make the whole process a little easier.

4. Balancing Energies Not Time

The final point Nigel Marsh makes is that we should balance our energies not time. Time is a limited resource, however energy can always be improved.

Four energies he identifies are:

  • Intellectual
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual

I’d like to extend these by bringing them into the ideas behind the Awesome Life Map as overall being a balance of work and life (rather than work life balance being a category of its own).

Income/Enabler —We encourage you to seek employment founded on your own passion, purpose and meaning. The idea here is to access the work you do, do the things that bring an income, but also make sure you’re doing the work you’re passionate about. Scale up and grow where necessary; help to build your business. Making sure your doing the tasks and the jobs you want to do. For example, to get the most enjoyment out of your work, consider these points:

  • Focus on the tasks that you enjoy and that create income.
  • Bring in others to do tasks that are not creatively fulfilling or financially less productive.
  • Bring in others to do tasks that you’re not skilled at.

Creative Fulfilment — Focusing on doing the work you love. As humans we love to create and grow on an intellectual level. Allow yourself the time and energy to be doing creative tasks. Don’t just create a business to grow and make money, do it because you enjoy what you do.

Legacy — Leave something behind.

Personal achievements, fun and experiences — Your business plan must factor in work life balance. Looking at the areas that have not be assessed so far:

  • Physical — making sure you’re balanced in mind and body. Taking care of your physical energy is important to / critical to your achieving all these goals.
  • Emotional — take a look at the relationships and emotional connections you’re making in life. Surrounding yourself with a support network, friends and a partner is a hugely important part of your happiness. We’re social beings, so make sure you consider this in your life plans.
  • Spiritual — Everyone will have their own definition of spiritual and what this energy means to them. I don’t want to dwell too deeply on this, but it is an important and interesting source of energy.

Conclusions

To sum up let’s reconsider these essential requirements for perfecting work life balance:

  1. Firstly, only you can control your work life balance, don’t leave it to someone else.
  2. Make the work part of the balance, also part of the life part by enjoying what you do through cultivating passionate, purposeful and meaningful work.
  3. Elongate your view of balance. It isn’t some utopia that can only be attained on retirement. Set aside time to work on balancing different energies e.g. physical, emotional, relationships over a week not a day. (My tip: have work days and clear days off — something anyone who works for themselves is easier said than done).
  4. Look for small incremental changes; they’re what matters.

What I’m Currently Doing To Achieve Work Life Balance

  1. I started Do Awesome Sh.it with my own Awesome Life Map in mind. Through a passion, I cultivated working on Speech Bubble and Soulshine Retreats, to enable unique experiences for myself and others.
  2. I love what I do, working with other people is my main focus at the moment and I’m developing Do Awesome Sh.it to make more of that happen.
  3. I’m testing out working from Monday to Friday with weekends off. I’m allowing kitesurfing to interrupt this flow when its windy, an advantage of working for myself. I’m also making sure there is a clear cut off each day to when I stop working and do something else. Be it time with friends, partner or exercise.
  4. I’m using my SCRUM board to plan my week and tasks. Instead of focusing on doing things each day, I’m making sure I complete things each week. For example, I’ve added exercise and personal tasks into the week to be completed and reviewed.

[Instagram pic coming soon]

If you’re looking to develop your business or life with work life balance in mind, we’ve just launched ourBusiness Growth Retreats. A chance to get away, have a holiday, whilst working on business plan with a foundation of passion and purpose. Balancing work and life, through being on an enjoyable yet insightful, useful and inspiring week. Click here to find out more…

References and Further Reading

Nigel Marsh: How to make work-life balance work — TEDx Talk Sydney

Dr. Stephen R. Covey — The Big Rocks of Life

Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz — The Power Of Full Engagement, Managing Energy, Not Time, Is The Key To High Performance and Renewal

Joshua Fields Millburn — ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Crappy Advice — An Interview with Cal Newport

Tim Urban — Your Life In Weeks — Wait But Why

Seth Godin — Tribes: We need you to lead us

Paul Dolan — Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life

At Do Awesome Sh.it we believe in creating businesses based on passion, purpose and meaning. Work life balance, creative fulfilment and doing the work you actually enjoy and love doing is the new currency and foundation of a successful business.

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