Achieving Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is a major factor in people's perception of a successful career. Moreover, it is critical for both our personal and work relationships, as it affects our mood and motivation at work.
How-to Achieve Work-Life Balance

A study by Accenture revealed that work-life balance — ahead of money, recognition, and autonomy — is the key determiner for more than half of men and women, on whether or not they have a successful career.

A poor work-life balance can result in physical and emotional fatigue, which can be reflected in lower productivity and can affect both your professional reputation and social relationships. As it might lead you to commit costly errors for the company and lack the time to nurture relationships or to attend important family events or milestones.

Some believe sleeping well is the only way to recover the energies they need. However, while sleeping eases your physical recovery, it does not necessarily help you eliminate mental fatigue caused by prolonged periods of cognitive activity. To accomplish a real rest, we not only need a good night's sleep but also to perform diverse activities, which clear our minds of our work. In fact, studies have shown that mental fatigue makes people reach physical exhaustion faster. Although it does not alter the performance of the heart or muscles, it affects our perception of effort. Thus, for the same physical effort, you are feeling more exhausted.

Here are some strategies you can use to achieve a better work-life balance:

1. Make sure you got time to get things done

There are days during which since you got to work you are constantly rushing from one meeting to another. You may feel you are losing control over your time, and in order to deal with the accumulated work you need to work longer hours. What you need is time to catch your breath and get things done. To accomplish this, for example, the CEO of Linkedin, Jeff Weiner, schedules every day between 90 minutes and 2 hours of his time (broken down into 30- to 90-minute blocks). This strategy allows you to work without interruption, take a break from meetings and perform tasks that would be accumulated if you were in all the time in meetings.

Related Post: Overcoming Procrastination & Getting Things Done

Moreover, learn to use less time in meetings and establish a day during which you can devote 100% to your functions. According to Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner, "There are so many ways to communicate in real-time or asynchronously that any meeting you actually sit for should have a duration and set outcome before you agree to go." Companies like Facebook have used policies such as "No Meeting Wednesdays." This hack allows everyone to have a day during which they can control their time, work on their projects, and get some work done without worrying about being late for a meeting.

Related Post: How to Save Time Boosting Meetings Productivity

2. Schedule downtime

When you plan your week, block time for your family, friends, and other activities that help you recharge, upfront, or you will never have time for them. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, says that you should treat family time as a priority over work and that you should prepare your colleagues for those times when an emergency will come up at home, and you'll need to drop everything to deal with it. For example, the president of one of the companies I work for blocks two hours each week during which he completely disconnects to accompany his daughter to her dancing lessons. No matter how urgent, he won't answer or reply to any call during that period of time.

3. Free time for yourself

Instead of wasting your time and energy with people who gossip, or are negative, or tasks that you can delegate, use that time to work out. It reduces stress, keeps you healthy, and is great for getting 'alone time' to work out business and personal problems. Frits Van Paaschen CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which operates in over 100 countries, always gets ups early to exercise, regardless if he is traveling for work, as it helps him to clear his mind and stay active. Moreover, Consider whether you can outsource any of your time-consuming household chores or errands. Even if you're on a tight budget, you may discover that the time you'll save will make it worth it.

Related Post: Time Management Tips, How To Delegate Successfully?

4. Unplug

Regardless of whether the technology today allows us to be connected 24/7, you should be ready to disconnect from the day-to-day operations so that you can rest, and see the big picture of the business without distractions. 

For example, Deloitte Consulting CEO Jim Moffatt, says that ""If you really unplug, you will start thinking about the long term. By taking a break from the day-to-day operations, not only was I spending some much-needed time with my family, but also I was able to focus on the bigger picture of where we were and where our business was heading." 

The president and CEO of eBay, John Donahoe believes that "the notion that business leaders need to be connected warriors every day of the year is mistaken. I am very connected 50 weeks of the year, but I try to completely disconnect for 2 weeks." When traveling, for example, Evernote CEO Phil Libin says that he does everything but work, It is his time to watch movies, read, sleep, and daydream, and therefore, he is constantly looking forward to his next trip. 

The notion of being always productive can be blinding and can prevent us from enjoying life, reason why I like his strategy as it is a good way to get some alone time.

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