One of the topics that is occupying my mind during holiday time is how to keep all the balls in the air during next year: family, friends, kids, husband, startup founder, Uni lecturer, etc. I bet you have the same issue with different labels.
James Loehr in his book The Power of Full Engagement describes a very useful technique to create change in our lives. – identify the area we want to change, identify a simple action which would make the most difference, then turn that action into a routine. The theory is that small consistent actions make big differences.
Because work life balance is such an issue for entrepreneurs, I thought I would compile a list of tips I’ve come across on the net on work life balance in the areas of family, relationship with your life partner, time for yourself and exercise. I hope you will find one or two that work for you, steal them for your New Year’s Resolutions, and turn them into simple routines that will make a difference to your 2011!
Work out your priorities:
1. Figure out what really maters to you in life. Ask: If my life could focus on one thing and one thing only, what would that be? If I could add a second thing, what would that be? A third? A fourth? A fifth?
2. Keep a journal – it will help you on a regular basis to stay focused on what is important to you.
3. Reprioritize: What are your top 10 priorities for this year? Rank them in terms of highest, high and low.
4. Visualize your ideal life – dare to dream and write down the top ten things you want to accomplish.
5. Write down your personal vision statement and mission statement – it will help you see where you are going in life.
6. Write a life list. What are 100 things you want to be, do and have before you die. They can be little or big, things you’ve always wanted to do or something you think of on the spur of the moment. For a great example see www.mightygirl.com
7. Have a family dinner at home most nights of the week – regardless of what you are doing. Use dinner time to talk about what the kids did at school, have family meetings etc.
8. Put the kids to bed – A great opportunity for some quality time.
9. Act engaged and be engaged – When you are home, be present with your family.
10. Go back to work after the kids are in bed – You can get some more work done once the kids are in bed. (Doesn’t always work so well for me, but it might for you!)
11. Spend weekends with your kids. Have an adventure, do something special, create memories.
12. Half a day work on Saturday. Work on Saturday mornings but bring the kids. It gives them some insight and understanding of what you do – and gives your long-suffering spouse some time for him/herself.
13. Take long vacations – and do something you enjoy as a family together.
14. Never miss an event. Be present for your kids important occasions; class plays, soccer games, piano and dance performances, birthdays, etc. Janine Ellis managed to do this while she was building Boost Juice by making sure that her office was never more than 5 minutes way from the kids’ school.
15. Traditions matter. Make holidays important – both religious and secular, weekly and yearly.
16. Travel only if you really have to. Think long and hard before you take a business trip. Do you really need to go or can you send someone else? Can the communication happen digitally?
Relationship with your Husband/ Wife/ Spouse/ Significant Other:
17. Engage your spouse. Ask for your partner’s feedback on important presentations and reports. Use any special skills they have that they are willing to help you with – but don’t over do it! Make sure they feel included rather than used.
18. Have a Date-Night. Try hard to set aside one evening a week when just the two of you go out to dinner and/or a movie or do something else where you can connect.
19. Get your spouse help. Get some child care, hire a cleaner, laundry service or home help. It doesn’t make up for the hours you are working but it takes the load off your spouse.
20. Make sure your partner is on board. If they share your vision and the business is about ‘us’ rather than just you, they will be more understanding.
21. Have some shared interests or hobbies. Not only will you spend time together doing something you both enjoy, but it will give you a break too.
22. Communicate often. About your relationship and about the frustrations and successes you are having with the business.
23. Don’t take out your work stress on your partner.
24. Work at home. Even if you are working you will still be around. However, working from home requires you to set good boundaries so you are not working all the time and also so family don’t intrude detrimentally on your work time.
25. Pay attention to your partner’s dreams and help and encourage them to make them happen.
Time for yourself:
26. Spend at least 15– 20 minutes a day when you can have some quiet time and feel at rest. Not only will you feel refreshed but you will have some emotional reserves for the other significant people in your life.
27. Get enough sleep – eight hours is recommended
28. Participate in social activities that you enjoy and that help you to relax and recharge
29. Find something you love to do (other than work) and schedule some time for it each week.
30. Turn off the television – studies show that it creates depression. It is a passive activity that won’t give you energy.
31. Limit Internet time – A lot of the time we spend on the internet is not really productive so set boundaries so that technology does not rule your life.
32. When confronted with a choice, ask yourself: What’s the cost? Will this add to my life or create more stress?
33. Let go of people and things that are holding you back (ie. clutter, negativity, clothing, luxury items, toys, etc.)
34. Prune any activities that are not productive or are non-priorities.
35. Say ‘no’ more often.
36. Go to bed a half hour early and get up a half hour early – this allows you to carve out additional personal time.
37. Write down your workouts every day, making notes about what you did, how you felt and how you improved since your last workout.
38. Schedule your workouts each week, just like you would a doctor’s appointment.
39. Harass your best friend, spouse or significant other into working out with you!
40. Every day, ask yourself how you will make your life healthier. It can be as simple as drinking more water or parking farther away from the front door.
41. Set daily or weekly goals. Long term goals are great, but are so far away we often forget why we’re working so hard. To stay motivated, write down a daily or weekly goal and then follow number 7 (rewarding yourself) if you reach it.
42. Make a regular exercise date with a friend to enjoy your favorite physical activities. – Boogie boarding or fitness boot camp are great to do with friends.
43. Play your favorite music while exercising, something that motivates you. – Create a soundtrack for your exercise adventure.
44. Dance with someone or by yourself. Take dancing lessons. Hit the dance floor on fast numbers instead of slow ones. – Boogie, boogie, boogie!
45. Join a recreational club that emphasizes physical activity. – Adult club soccer teams, kick-ball or jogging groups are all great choices.
46. Sneak exercise into your day – Take the stairs instead of the elevator, Go for a walk during your coffee break or lunch, Walk all or part of the way to work, Do housework at a fast pace, Rake leaves or do other yard work.
47. Say three gratitudes each night – when you do this you will realize that you are too blessed to stress.
Share your favourite tip in the comments. Are you going to adopt any of these this year? Or is there anything else you are going to try?
Many of the tips on family and spouse relationships come from an excellent article by Steve Blank, Launching a startup and having a family life – it’s possible! It’s worth reading the whole post from this serial entrepreneur here.
How to start a business and not destroy your marriage on Answers ONstartups, an excellent question and answer resource for entrepreneurs.
About.com’s Work Life Balance: Tips and Techniques
Ways2Work: Looking after yourself
About.com’s Exercise tips
FamilyDoctor.org’s The Exercise Habit