In yesterday’s blog I shattered the myth of work-life balance, sharing that for busy leaders, work-life integration (or work-life blend) is a better pursuit. As I’ve navigated the different stages of my career and home life, the practices below have been critical to my success. Give them a try!
Align Your Calendar with Your Values
In order to achieve work-life integration, we need consistency in living our values. When we’re misaligned with our values, life doesn’t work, we’re out of sync, and we feel uncomfortable. One way to keep your priorities aligned with your values is through the practice of calendaring. Calendaring means asking yourself what matters most and if the way you spend your time reflects your priorities.
The exercise below will help you put your concentration into the areas of your life that are most important to you. Prefer to listen? Follow along with our Calendaring Practice podcast episode.
- List the three to five areas in your life that are critical to your happiness. They might include family, health, career, spirituality, community, relationships, learning, and recreation, but they can be anything, as long as they are priorities for you.
- Next, take a blank set of calendar pages and jot down your vision of an ideally balanced life. Imagine it. Don’t edit, just set up a life you’d wake up to every day excited to live.
- Now, print out your actual calendar for the same number of months you used for your “ideal” calendar in step two and compare the calendars. How does what you actually do on a day-to-day basis compare with your “ideal” calendar? Where are the biggest gaps? Is what you say is important to you reflected in your calendar?
- Write down the first step you need to take to realize a life that is more integrated and reflective of your “ideal” calendar.
- Begin immediately; especially if you find your ideal and reality are worlds apart.
Learn to Say No
Learning to say no to things can be difficult, especially if the request is made by someone we care about or it’s something that can benefit us professionally. Being overcommitted, however, leads to overwhelm and a lack of balance. Every time you say yes to something, you’re also saying yes to much, much more—but how often do you stop to consider all that your first yes entails in terms of time, work, and commitment?
Try this: When someone asks you to take on a new responsibility or job, don’t be too quick to say yes. Instead, tell them you’ll consider it and when you’ll get back to them. Then, take the time to sit down with a pad and pencil, truly evaluate the task, and write down the additional tasks your one yes will cause. If you look at your list and realize that all of those yesses add up to more than you’re willing to commit to, you can say no with a clear conscience and without hesitating. If you’re determined to find balance in your life between what you must do, versus what others would like you to do, this is a powerful place to start. Need more inspiration? Find tips in our video.
The word balance is bantered about in self-help books and health magazines all the time, as if it’s a destination we are all seeking. Yet I haven’t met anyone who lives there. It’s an illusion. The trick is defining what balance means for you. Finding work-life integration more consistently means delegating, intentionally choosing what to say yes and no to, and aligning your calendar so your time reflects your values. Simple? Yes. Easy? No.