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What is work life balance? This is a common question that everyone seems to wonder about but no one seems to ask. We say we need strategies for work life balance, but rarely do we stop to ask what it truly is. This might be the biggest mistake we make. Read on to find out why.
IS WORK LIFE BALANCE IMPORTANT?
Let’s not muck around with philosophical views here. YES – work life balance is important. Obviously, it is important as a self-care strategy, but it is also important for us to be able to work at our best. Connecting to the other parts of our lives outside of work, gives us the physical, mental and emotional energy to apply ourselves with full intensity to work itself. When people ask for tips for work life balance, they tend to think it will only benefit their lives away from the office, but we always find that being clear about work life balance has a dramatic effect on what people achieve at work.
WHAT IS WORK LIFE BALANCE?
This is a great question! And one that is necessary to answer in order to actually have work life balance or implement any strategies for work life balance that are worthwhile. Why? Because, simply, if we don’t know what work life balance is, then how can we achieve it? Everyone wants more work life balance, but when you ask them what that means, they are very vague about what it looks like in practice. So, without a clear idea of what to do for balance, what do we do instead? We get bored and we end up working more! This is what the great work from home experiment has shown us – that when we no longer have a commute, what do we replace it with? More work. Why wouldn’t we replace it with one of our strategies for work life balance? Because we don’t really know what that looks like. So, instead, we default to answering more emails.
SO, WHAT IS WORK LIFE BALANCE?
The obvious answer is that it is different for everyone. Duh.
But what if we could put a framework around this to make it a little easier to work out?
When we talk about strategies for work life balance, we highlight three areas in which we need to perform, as a basis for figuring out our work life balance goals. Those three areas are:
- Work – being clear about our work performance frees us from low impact tasks
- Home and Relationships – we to be clear about what makes a big difference in our relationships with the people we love
- Self – determining what helps our physical, mental and emotional wellness and any personal goals we might have
When people talk about work life balance, they tend to think about the last two, and not the area of ‘Work’ – but we call these three areas the Three Critical Areas because they are all necessary for balance to be attained.
Our Focus Planner – the only Full Focus Planner in Australia and Australia’s best productivity planner – helps you focus on these strategies for work life balance by constantly reminding you to pay attention to the things that matter.
WHY ARE THE THREE CRITICAL AREAS SO CRITICAL?
Work, Home and Relationships, and Self. They are the Critical Areas that we need to focus on in order to be successful, fulfilled and balanced.
Take a look at the video to find out the science behind this concept. How success breeds success and how emotional distraction stops us from performing at our best.
The Focus Planner helps with work life balance by focussing on three Critical Areas.
But most people make the mistake of thinking that you have to constantly sacrifice one, in order to thrive in the others. At Performance Lab, we know that the opposite is true: if you let one slip, then chances are the others will slip as well.
By consciously focussing on trying to be our best in each area, we unlock our potential to thrive in all three. Each Critical Area adds to the others, they don’t subtract from the others.
GET FOCUSSED – DEFINE YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE
So, what is work life balance for you? Your strategy for work life balance will look like this:
In each of the Three Critical Areas, what do you want to achieve long term and in the next 12 months?
Working back from there, what would you do every week (or every day) to make this a reality. Remember, consistent small behaviours trump sporadic big gestures when it comes to balance.
If you’re not doing these things consistently now, what is getting in the way? Are these things important or do they just feel important? Are they helping you grow and making a different to your Three Critical Areas, or are they just getting in the way?
Work life balance for you, then, is executing these things every day or every week. If you can stay on top of these behaviours, you can get closer to your definition of work life balance.
It’s really that simple.
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Critical Area FAQ's when it comes to the Focus Planner:
I don't really care about work. Do I need to have an MIT?
You really should. You might not care about work, but we know that when we have a purpose and a sense of accomplishment it helps the other areas of our lives as well. It doesn't have to be big - like a promotion etc - but even being really efficient at your work is a great MIT. And hey, it might free up your time to do other things!
My Home and Relationship MIT sounds fluffy. Is this ok?
Yes it is - and these MIT's will often sound fluffy - but we need direction. What then makes the most difference is if we have really quantifiable Key Behaviours.
Why are the example MIT's so broad? I thought goals were meant to be specific.
The old SMART goals are great, but MIT's work a little differently. When they're broad, we are able to find different ways of working towards our MIT's. We just have to make sure that the Key Behaviours are very specific. This is where SMART goals come in.