Life’s Work Balance

How I’ve made 20yrs of marriage, 6 kids, 5yrs at same job, and 3yrs of successful podcasting work.

As a husband of a stay-at-home/home-schooling mom, father of six kids (oldest is 17, youngest is 2), podcast host, full-time employee, coffee roaster and worship leader–maintaining a “work/life balance” is (and better be) very important to me.

I’d be lying if I said I never fail, but I certainly give it my all and have found much success in making it all work.

My wife hasn’t left me in nearly 20 years, and my kids still (kinda) think I hung the moon. I’ve also been with the same company the past five years, and have run a successful podcast for the past three–so I’m optimistic I’m doing this right.

I thought it might be beneficial to share some things I’ve intentionally implemented into my life (and routine) that have helped make this all possible for me.

Learn To Love Mornings

This could very well be the most important tip, because:

  • If I’m not filling my cup first, I’ll have nothing left to pour into others
  • If I’m running on empty, as a leader I will not be able to take my family where they need to go
  • If I don’t put on my oxygen mask first, I won’t be well enough to put them on my children either

I hated mornings, until I started waking up at 5a M-F for my morning routine.

A routine which consists of meditating quietly and reading a chapter of the Bible, exercise/stretching, bulletproof coffee, and a healthy breakfast with a dose of personal-growth book reading + audio book or podcast on my one-hour drive to work.

I’ve lost 40lbs and gained health, empathy, productivity, drive and focus as well.

I highly recommend it!

“Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal growth.” — Jim Rohn

GTD

Get Things Done.

Just Say No

There will always be less important things vying for my attention and thus competing with my attention to my life’s work.

“If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no”. — Derek Sivers

Always remember when you say no to something less important, you’re freeing yourself up to say yes to something much more important.

Coffee O’clock

This is a ritual that has yielded complex, rich and smooth (see what I did there?) benefits for my wife and I.

When I’m working from home, 1p = “Coffee O’clock”.

I get to brew my favorite bean-beverage, but more importantly (unless I’m behind on a deadline), I try to get some face-time with her.

Sometime’s we’ll go over the budget (we really need to do that again), or just talk about life.

Eat Together

Families that eat together, stay together. This is a scientific fact.

We always have dinner together when I get home from work.

No devices allowed.

When I’m working from home, we always try to have lunch together. It’s not only a great mental break from a potentially stressful work day, but it’s a really great way to reconnect with my beloved humans who want to spend their lives with me.

Well…the kids don’t really have a choice yet.

Time Quilting

This is one of the greatest takeaways I’ll leave you with. It’s not mine, I learned it from Chris Brogan.

People who quilt, don’t ever make a blanket in one sitting. It’s one square at a time. When we feel overwhelmed like we’re never going to get everything done we desire to achieve, we need to remind ourselves that we can if we quilt it in.

We make time for the things that are important to us.

I challenge you to experiment with this.

For example, when ruling from the porcelain throne, instead of firing up FB (or insert social media time-suck here) and losing yourself in the vortex of other people’s accomplishments and dismays, quilt-in a bit of that outline for that blog post you’ve been meaning to write, or that talk you’ve always wanted to give.

Just don’t spend too much time in there, or your loved one’s will start worrying about you (plus your legs will fall asleep!).

You’ll find over the time that’s going to pass anyway, you’ll actually have useful content and/or executable ideas you wouldn’t have if you hadn’t quilted it in.

Conclusion

Though it may be incredibly difficult (especially if you’re as busy as I am) to maintain a work/life balance, it’s incredibly important to do so.

I’d hate for my wife to leave me because I cared more about my podcast or my work.

I’d hate my kids to resent me because my phone was always in front of my face when they were in the room trying to talk to me.

Pokemon’s can wait!

I know I’ve been addressing my work/life balance, but I’d almost rather call it life’s work balance.

Work is a big part of our lives especially when we deeply care about the work we do. I think our work becomes sub-optimal when we separate ourselves from it.

It is possible (just not easy) to balance these things out. It just requires intentionality and planning.

If my scale is going to tip, I’d rather it tip toward the direction of what matters most to me…my loved ones.

But if it’s just enough of both, well then that’s a fine balance indeed.

As I mentioned in this article, one of the biggest benefits to my morning routine has been my seismic-level increase in empathy toward others. I also learned that empathy can be taught. Who gives a 💩 you might ask?

Hopefully you, if you design products or experiences that other humans use. The best crafted experiences are always a result of a designer putting themselves in their users’ shoes.

I spent the last 2+ years creating an Empathy Challenge that if put into practice, is guaranteed to increase your levels of empathy toward other humans. I want to give it to you for free (well, in exchange for your email address).

Rise to the challenge at userdefenders.com/empathy

The “Coffee O’clock” section originally published on InVision Blog on 7/22/16.

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Jason Ogle

Jason Ogle

Host of @UserDefenders podcast. Human. Designer. Story-Catcher. Deep-Diver. Husband + Father x 7. Has a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe.