2 man watching time

5 hacks to get a healthier work-life balance now

Richard Whitely, a young British TV reporter, was interviewing a farmer on the wild uplands of Wensleydale about the hardships of hill farming. After the interview, Richard was curious about the time because he had to get his film crew off to lunch.

Not having a watch, Richard asked the farmer what time it was. “Aye, lad,” he said. “Ah’ll tell thee.”

And with that he crouched down beside the cow in the farmyard. With his great Yorkshire hand, strengthened and pitted with years of toil, he lifted the cow’s udder ever so gently. “Ten to one,” was his reply.

Richard and the film crew were amazed. “How can you tell the time by feeling a cow’s udder?” Richard asked.

“Come here, lad, ah’ll show thee.” Stooping down again, he said, “If you crouch down like this and lift up the udder, you can just see the church clock across the valley.”

Well, you may not have any trouble telling the time. However, if you’re like most people, you probably have some trouble managing your time. You may feel like you’re constantly hurrying or that you’re always short of time. You might even be the kind of person who paces in front of a microwave.

Well that’s not quality living and it’s not healthy.  That’s far from the work-life balance you need and deserve.  

To turn that around and get more of the work-life balance you’ve always wanted, start with some of these Tuesday Tips.

1.  Make a balance assessment.

I know it’s not easy to keep up with the demands of work and family and also find a little time for you. But the price you pay for working too much, ignoring your family, and neglecting your need for personal downtime is devastating. Life seems out of control, peace of mind is a foreign concept, and your body can look and feel like a bundle of worn out rags.

Stephanie Winston, author of Getting Out From Under, says some people need to “downshift.” In other words, they’re spending too much time on their work and not enough time on the life portion of the work-life balance equation. 

Here are the statements she uses to determine if your use of time is out of balance. Answer them for yourself.  Answer “Yes” or “No” to each statement.

  • In the past week, I was able to dine with my family once or twice.
  • Work-related pressure has caused me to skip a family event in the last two months.
  • I can think of an activity I’d love to engage in but can’t because of work demands.
  • In the past two months, business travel has taken me away from home for eight nights or more.
  • I have no time to spare for civic, social, or charitable activities.
  • My work creates family pressures.
  • I have no time for a hobby.
  • If I had to take time off from work to deal with a family crisis, illness, or death, it would cause me great stress or even jeopardize my job.

If you said “Yes” to three or more statements, you are probably out of balance. You need to manage your time more effectively.

That’s another take away from my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program.

Take Phil Lee, for example.  He’s the COO of the Brittania Building Society in the U.K.  He flew all the way to the U.S. to participate in the Journey.  Phil says: I’ve had some great results following your JOURNEY program.  I’ve lost 14 pounds in weight.  I am now swimming freestyle 50% faster.  I’m much calmer and relaxed than previously.  And this is just the start!” 

And then there’s Joan Garber, a Mary Kay consultant.  Joan says: “You taught me how to capture and use all those ‘dead, waiting’ moments throughout my day. And WOW!  What a difference that is making.  I’m becoming bolder, more assertive, asking better questions, and even smiling at myself more often.”

F.Y.I.  My next Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program will be in St. Louis on April 23-24, 2020.  And if you register by THIS FRIDAY, JANUARY 31ST, you get the Super Early-Early Bird Special that saves you $600.

2.  Fill out a time log.  

Your first step in managing your time is to record your actual use of it.  It’s simple and often eye opening. 

All you have to do is take a piece of paper and write down your 24-hour day in 15-minute increments.  Start with 12:00 a.m.; then write down 12:15 a.m., and so on through the day until you reach 11:45 p.m.  Then record in a few words what you did during that 15-minute time frame.  Do this at least once a week, every week, for three months.

Look at what you write down and ask yourself what lessons your time log has for you. 

You may find, for example, that many of the things you do may not be “your job.”  They may be somebody else’s responsibility.  Or they may not even be necessary.  You’ll find out when you do a time log. 

3.  Fix repeated crises.

Look for problems that keep happening on and off the job.  Look for things that cause panic, uproar, chaos, and confusion. Look for things that keep on wasting your time.

There may be a particular task that everyone back on the job hates to do.  But nothing ever changes because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”   It may be worthwhile to bring that particular task up for discussion and brainstorming and see if you all can’t find a better way of handling the situation.

Or it may be a frantic chase every morning at your house. People are scrambling to find their clothes and homework, and people are madly running out the door hoping not to miss the bus.  It doesn’t make any sense to have the same crisis day after day.  You’re smarter than that.  It’s time to set up some new procedures so the day starts with calm and connection.

4.  Work in blocks of time.

Constantly switching from one task to another is not only wasteful of your time but depleting of your energy.   Instead, designate some blocks of time for certain tasks. 

You may decide, as much as it is possible, to return calls between 2:00 and 2:30 p.m., for example. 

Or you may decide to check your email only twice a day, at certain times, rather than glancing at every email as it comes in.  This alone will be a huge stress reliever, time saver, and energy booster. 

Be careful of doing two or three things at once.  As Dave Barry says, “Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.”

5.  Figure out your priorities.

One of the best things you can do to get the work-life balance you’ve always wanted is to figure out your priorities.  Figure out what is important … because no matter how hard you work, you will never get everything done. 

So do the most important things … and let the rest go if time doesn’t permit.

Follow what I call the greatest time management principle in the world.  Live each day as though it was your last, and some day, you’ll be right.

Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 1024– 5 hacks to get a healthier work-life balance now