Work-life balance

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." - Albert Einstein

One of the things that my coaching clients want to explore with me is work-life balance…especially in HK where work tends to eat into our social/family time! With the easy access to our emails and constantly being accessible by mobile it’s even harder to separate work from life. It's the struggle between our work persona - the hard working, productive diligent employee - weighed up against the good friend, the partner, the parent. I know I spend a considerable amount of time feeling compromised and guilty that I am failing at one/both of the above!

Sooooooooooooooo here are some of the suggestions that I make to my clients!

1) Prioritize
Decide what your priorities are for the day (you can do this the night before). Is finishing a proposal for work a priority? Or is it attending your kid’s soccer match? Or having a pedicure? Once you know the things that have to be completed you have a structure. And when you have accomplished the most prioritised task, you can then move on to less pressing tasks! I rely on my iPhone diary and input everything as soon as its confirmed…I also LOVE making lists! Both are helpful to keep you on track!

2) Organisation
This runs on from the previous point. I also LOVE being organised! I am woman who likes...LOVES a plan! I know not everyone finds it easy to be organised and sadly you can’t wave a magic wand and make it so - you just have to work at it! But basic things, like knowing where your car keys are because you always put them on a hook by the door, will save you hours of wasted time, such as hunting for them under the sofa or in the freezer! 

3) Delegate
I used to be rubbish at asking people to help me with things and then one day I had an ‘Aha!’ moment and realised that actually my colleagues were so much better at certain things than I was! Once you learn the art of delegation, life becomes a lot less stressful…as long as you have awesome colleagues! In HK, we are VERY lucky to have help in the home…so household chores, babysitting, cooking & shopping for groceries, etc. can all be handled for you. In other cultures this might be frowned upon…but in HK it's the norm!

4) R&R
Make sure you take time for yourself to do something for you! Spa day, watch a movie, spend time in nature, meditate, go to the gym. Whatever de-stresses & delights! Take time to do fun stuff that YOU enjoy. Everyone is different! I love going to the theatre, art journaling, yoga-ing, spending time with my family…these are non-negotiables and so I build them into my week and schedule them in my diary so that I know they are firm commitments.

5) No!
Saying ‘No!’ is tricky! You don’t want to upset your boss or a colleague but, if you really can’t take on another project, it's best to decline politely rather than suffer in silence and then bitch about it later. For your sanity be realistic about what you can fit into your day!

The thing about ‘balance’ is that it’s fragile and difficult to maintain. There’s always got to be flexibility to prioritise work, friends, family, when THEY need it.

There is no perfect, one-size-fits-all balance you should be striving for. The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different priorities and different lives!

Read EAT THAT FROG by Brian Tracy…make the time, and it’ll save you time in the long run!


Are we in the midst of a ‘stress epidemic’?

Most people would admit to exhibiting some stress symptoms! These would include crazy work schedules, managing relationships, money matters 7 then day to day stuff which seems trivial at the time…but might be the straw that breaks the proverbial camels back!! Things like being stuck in a traffic jam, your Skype call keeps cutting out, a friend is late again…actually my heart is racing just thinking about these examples!

So what can we do about it? 10 stress busters!

1)    Accept the things you can't change!
Unfortunately sometimes you’ll be in a situation that is out of your control, for example your company is downsizing…you can’t do anything about this…but rather than focus on what you can’t change put your energy & focus into something proactive that you can do…look for another job for example.    

2)    Keep moving!
Being active and exercising won’t make your problems disappear but it will make you feel better & take your mind of the situation for a while! It will also reduce some of the emotional intensity & give you a bit of headspace to clear your mind and think more clearly.

3)    Get off your bum & do something!
There probably is a solution to your problem. Rather than letting all your energy get used up on negativity towards the situation, try and find that solution. If you are passive & feel as though you are out of control…you’ll feel worse. By being proactive you will empower yourself!

4)    Connect with others!
By connecting with friends, colleagues, family you will have a support network of people who love you and have time and patience to listen in times when you need their help. Being with friends is fun; you relax and have a laugh (which in itself is a great stress reliever!). By discussing things that are concerning you with friends you can think through problems out loud and find solutions to problems that are on your mind.

5)    ‘Me’ Time!
This isn’t ‘waste of time’ as some my perceive it… ‘Me’ time is essential. In HK we work crazy hours, have crazy schedules and its easy to let the things we enjoy slip away. It’s important to relax, exercise, socialize…take an art class, learn a language, etc. But we need to build that into our schedules as ‘non-negotiables’ that we do every week…just for the fun of it!

6)    Set goals!
By challenging yourself to learn something new (see #5) you are continuing to learn and develop and this encourages you to be more emotionally resilient. It motivates you and gets you off the coach and away from the TV…which is oh so inviting and comfy! Its also passive…so get challenging yourself!

7)    Nasty habits!
Don’t fall into the trap of avoidance behavior…relying on alcohol, caffeine, smoking, eating unhealthily, etc. Women are better than men at addressing the problem and seeking sisterhood to talk their problems out. By using these ‘nasties’ your just creating a crutch that won’t solve your problems…may even create new ones! Best idea is to suck it up and address the issues that are causing you grief.

8)    Putting it into perspective!
Sometimes by thinking about others you forget about yourself…so by volunteering or getting involved in some community projects you become more resilient. You’ll meet other people and perhaps due to the things that they are going through in their lives will put your issues into perspective. By helping others your self worth will soar & you’ll start to feel better about your life.

9)    Work smart!
This means that rather than working all the hours of the day you prioritize what is your ‘biggest frog’ (See Brian Tracy’s book “Eat that Frog”) get that done and dusted. So your biggest hardest task is out of the way first leaving you with less important stuff to do last. Also don’t seek for perfection…do your best and then put that task to bed, otherwise one spends a lot of time redoing…and perfection is elusive!

10) Positivity rules!
We all have a squillion different things to be grateful for, look for positive things in your life and acknowledge them and show gratitude for them. As I mentioned in Feb blog…I am glass half full, by having that attitude you are generally a happier person! I had a coaching client today and one of her tasks for the next week is to write down in a journal at least one thing that she is grateful for every day as she drifts off to sleep she has that positive thought in her mind!

Write a list of 5 things that you’d like to do in your day but struggle to incorporate.
Rank them in order of priority.
Choose the top thing and for the next week incorporate that into your day, even if its just for 5 minutes and see how it makes you feel, does it alter your stress levels?