Like many of you, I have a very full and busy schedule interwoven with business and personal commitments, projects and activities.
I am passionate about having it all so I go out of my way to not miss out on personal commitments like exercising, spending time with my wife and kids, etc. because of career and professional priorities.
Managing everything, though is often like riding an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes it feels like I have too much to do and I am not managing to get it all done. And, at other times, even when the load is the same, I feel that I am completely on top of it and I have time to spare.
But, no matter how I feel during the roller coaster ride I seem to always manage to get everything done in a timely and workable manner. Some things seem to go smoothly from the start and other things tend to squeak, push and kick until the last minute. However, I don’t recall the last time I failed to achieve a significant project, deadline or milestone.
When it comes to managing our professional and personal life balance there seem to be two worlds occurring at the same time. One is the actual events and activities that happen. The other is all the noise and self-commentary that accompanies the activities, in our head.
For example, I have a routine practice of exercising ninety minutes every third day. I try and keep that routine religiously in order to stay in shape. There seem to always be good reasons why I don’t have time to do it. But, I still do it. The little voice in my head often goes off with things like: “Today is not a good day for exercising” “You are going to miss your deadline if you exercise today” and “You don’t feel like it anyway.”
When I buy into what my little voice is saying I usually get stressed. Sometimes I even decide to not exercise. When that happens I almost always feel defeated and disappointed.
I have learned from personal experience that there is no real direct correlation between how much I get done and the noise in my head about it. In other words, no matter how insistent and convincing my little voice is about how if I exercise I will miss my other commitments, in reality, most of the time that is not the case at all!
As a result, I have learned to not give credence to my noise. I just let the noise go on and I go ahead and do what I promised myself and planned to do anyway. I trust that if I stay true to my commitments in all areas I will always manage to get them all done. And, 95% of the time that is exactly what happens. In the other 5%, I typically end up renegotiating the deadline or in rare instances working longer hours to pull it off on time. But, the long hours routine rarely happens.
People often ask me for advice on how to manage their professional and personal life balance.
My answer is:
- Be clear about your long-term and short-term professional and personal commitments and objectives. The more you occupy your consciousness with, and focus your intention on your dreams, commitments and goals the less space there will be for noise.
- Schedule the activities associated with fulfilling them in your calendar – for example: for professional: writing the proposal, reading the report, returning calls. For personal: exercising 3 times a week, date night with your spouse, quality time with kids, etc.
- Keep your schedule, no matter what. Don’t cancel your exercise or time with your kids because of work load or because your little voice says you will fail.
- Say no to others who want to double book things with you while you have planned personal activities. Be kind and responsible about it and offer alternative times.Don’t buy into the noise. Just be aware of it and acknowledge it but don’t buy into it.
- Gather evidence that no matter how loud and convincing your voice is, it’s just noise and it has no bearing on your ability to get everything done.
- Obviously, things are never perfect. At times you will need to be flexible and innovative, including perhaps rescheduling things or working longer hours to get everything done. But if you stand for having it all, you manage your schedule with the relentless commitment to never sacrifice or sell out on anything important.
- And, if you make sure that all your professional and personal commitments are accounted for, you will find that the noise has less and less control over your actions. As a result your ability to have a well-balanced professional and personal life will keep growing.
Try it and see how it works…