Regardless of whether you work at a traditional job or are an entrepreneur, finding the perfect work/life balance can be extraordinarily difficult. We always have outside influences vying for our attention, and deciding what’s most important to us rather than those around us at any given time, isn’t always an easy task.
My whole life I’ve struggled with work/life balance. Sometimes I feel I’ve got it down, but those around me think otherwise. Then there are times where it’s the opposite and I’m all over the place, but everyone else applauds my ability to achieve such balance.
Finally I figured out what it is I need to be doing in order to fulfill my personal goals. Once I started listening to my own intuition, my productivity, happiness and over all well-being skyrocketed.
While I certainly don’t have it all figured out, hopefully these 10 things tips to achieving the perfect work/life balance will point you in the right direction.
1) Use a calendar. For pretty much my entire life I’ve been the most unorganized person in the world. Then something profound happened: I got busy. I started scheduling things, which I’d subsequently forget about, and I’d end up blowing off a business contact or a friend – neither of which is a good thing. In comes Google Calendar. I now schedule pretty much all daily meetings and things I have to do. I try to leave long run things pretty open in order to stay flexible for any cool opportunities, but you can bet I’ve got this week pretty well planned out. By knowing what you have to do in any given day or week, you’re taking steps towards achieving the perfect life balance.
2) Realize there doesn’t ALWAYS have to be a good balance. This is HUGE and something many people will not understand. In order to achieve the perfect work/life balance over the long term, you’ll face times where there is a significant lack of balance. You may have a few months leading up to a major product launch where you work 12 hours a day 7 days a week. Sure that isn’t sustainable over the long term, but hell, you’re building a business! Sacrifice has to be made. The sooner you accept that as your reality, the sooner you’ll stop stressing out about it and start making stuff happen.
That said, it goes both ways. There could also be times where you take two weeks off and hardly think about work. Enjoy that time, don’t stress, and relish in the fact that you’ve earned it, and that it’s part of your lifestyle.
3) Not everyone will support #2. This especially pertains to entrepreneurs. If you’re close to a lot of people who haven’t embraced the lifestyle of an entrepreneur, you’re going to get a lot of push back from others. There will be times where you’re moving forward on a project, and they’ll tell you to take time off, relax, and stop working so hard. Don’t give in. You know you’re working your ass off for a reason – so you can have something far greater in the future. As soon as you sacrifice that dream and goal, you’re in trouble.
You can’t live your live in extremes forever as it will definitely take its toll on you and those around you, but if you can keep things in perspective, good things will happen.
4) Disconnect on a regular basis. In a world where everyone is connected 24/7, it’s never been more important to take time off. Whether it’s an hour, day, weekend, week, whatever, plan to have time for yourself and the people you love. This past weekend I had limited connectivity while I spent the weekend golfing and skiing in Central Oregon with Tate. Arguably I wasn’t even as disconnected as I should be, but to have a couple days where I didn’t think about email, projects or anything else made a big difference.
5) Surround yourself with like-minded people. The more similar those around you are in goals and beliefs, the easier it will be to achieve the perfect work/life balance. In some ways I think the greatest balance I’ve achieved was when I was living in Thailand – mostly just due to the fact I was surrounded by people like David Walsh, Derek Johanson, and Cody Mckibben on a daily basis. They are all trying to achieve similar things as me, so I could spend 12 hours a day working on my projects and I’d receive nothing but support. While I still have incredible support from those I’m closest to now, it’s made a bit more difficult due to a difference in lifestyles and the fact I don’t always spend 12 hours a day with people that are trying to achieve the same thing.
6) Don’t Add to Daily To-Do List. This is important. Create your to do list for the day, and DON’T under (almost) any circumstances add to it. Once you’ve finished the stuff you hoped to accomplish, take the rest of the day off and do something fun or relax. Being able to draw finite lines between work and play is really important when working for yourself. If you can do that by setting reasonable to-do lists, and not continually adding to it when you’ve finished your daily tasks, you’re going to be way ahead of the game.
7) Always have something to look forward to. Let’s face it, the whole reason we do any of the “work” we do is to allow ourselves to take care of the basic needs of life and to have fun! So what good is all the hard work if you don’t have something fun to look forward to. I always try and make a point of having a few minor things and at least one or two major things to look forward to at any given time. Right now I’m really looking forward to my birthday and launch of my new HDR photography book next Monday, as well as a trip to the Oregon coast in a few weeks. On a larger scale I’ll be hitting up Bali with the Tropical MBA crew in a few months and meeting a ton of awesome people at the World Domination Summit in June. The more you have to look forward to, the easier it is to remember why you’re putting in so much hard work in the first place.
8) Do shit you love. Seems simple doesn’t it? Well guess what, its true. If you’re doing shit you love, nothing else matters. There’s been a few blog posts and videos by other bloggers about this concept over the last few months, and it’s something that should be covered even more than it already is. If you love your work, and you love your “life”, then the work life balance really doesn’t matter much does it? You’ve already figured it out.
9) Meditate. This is one of those new age concepts that isn’t really talked much in my corner of the blogosphere, but I can guarantee you that just because it isn’t talked about much, does NOT mean it’s not practiced. If you can get in the habit of spending 10-15 minutes a day meditating, relaxing your mind and body, and preparing for the day, you’ll be shocked at the positive effect it will have on every aspect of your life. Whenever I set time aside in my day (usually morning) to relax and meditate, everything just seems to go better. Allowing your mind to find the perfect work/life balance through meditation makes it a thousand times easier for your body to follow through.
10) Keep Things in Perspective. So you don’t get that blog post out in time. Your product launch was pushed back 3 months. You missed a flight. BIG DEAL. We tend to over-analyze every aspect of our day to day lives, and oftentimes that results in a gigantic (and unnecessary) build up of stress. It sounds cliche, but be thankful for what you have. If you’re reading this, then I’m going to guess that you have much more going for you than most of the world. So next time you struggle with your work/life balance – be thankful that you have that problem to begin with, as many people would kill to know what that feels like.
So there you go, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to achieve the perfect work/life balance. In the end, I’ve found that there really is no magic bullet. The perfect balance for one person is totally different from that of another. But if you can focus on some of the things I’ve mentioned here, you’ll be way ahead of the game when it comes to staying organized in your life, making yourself happy, and having some fun in the process.
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