When working long hours more than a quarter of employees feel depressed (27%), one third feel anxious (34%), and more than half feel irritable (58%) ” Mental Health Foundation
Is this you? Are you tired? Does your life revolve around work? Is there never enough time? In summary, is your work-life balance totally out of kilter?? Then read on.
For many of the professionals I’ve worked with, a healthy work-life balance feels as obtainable as that mythical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It’s a nice idea but you doubt it’s actually possible to get there.
But you know a lack of work-life balance is bad for you, and it certainly not great for everyone around you, but this treadmill you’re on just won’t stop. And so neither do you.
What can you do?
In this post, I’m going to show you a quick, easy, and stress-free way to keep a better eye on your work-life balance. At a glance, you’ll be able to see which areas of your life you’re neglecting and which are dominating. Once you have that information, you can make a few small tweaks to move towards striking a better balance.
(Notice how I said ‘better’? We’re not shooting for perfection here, just improvement.)
Years ago, I used Stephen Covey’s old diary software to manage my time. His mind-shifting approach enabled me to very quickly and visually check whether or not the week ahead was balanced. Unfortunately the latest version of his software seems to focus on work and little else, but it’s his method we’re going to adapt in our approach here.
Step 1: Break your life into 4 categories
The first step is to break your life up into four categories. Covey used these key areas of focus:
The areas I settled on for myself are a little more pragmatic – split between work and non-work:
- Meetings – work time spent with other people
- Tasks – work time spent on my own
- Exercise – whether a run or a yoga class, if I don’t schedule this, it doesn’t happen
- Connection with friends and family – research tells us more and more that to be healthy we need to stay connected and, for me, this is always the category that slips first, so I keep a close eye on it
You can come up with your own categories or use mine or Covey’s. Just make sure they broadly cover the main areas of your life and stick to four, that’s plenty.
Step 2: Colour code your calendar
The next step is to choose a colour to represent each category and to use a calendar management tool such as Google or Outlook to colour code your life.
You might choose blue for physical, green for mental, red for social, and yellow for spiritual, for example. Make each item in your diary the appropriate colour.
Step 3: Review your calendar
At a glance, you should now be able to see what your work-life balance is looking like. Which colours are dominating and which are missing? Perhaps you’re clearly spending most of your time on work and spending very little with others. Maybe you’ll spot that your diary is full of meetings and no time to get anthing done! Using this colour coding system, it’s quick and easy to see what you’re spending your time on.
Step 4: Adjust your calendar
In case you haven’t already worked it out, the challenge is to make sure you’re calendar is multi-coloured!
So if any of your colours are missing from your calendar, find a way to add them in. Do you really need to be at all those meetings? Which day can you finish on time to ensure you get to the class you’ve wanted to attend – online or offline! There is only so much time in a day, and you’re the only one who can ultimately manage this time.
Welcome to your new, more balanced life
If you use this system and be disciplined about sticking to the events you’ve scheduled in your calendar, your life should now be a little bit more balanced than it was before.
All of these areas of your life are important for you to be at your best and for you to enjoy life to it’s utmost. You’ll also be a fantastic role model to those around you. This doesn’t take long to do. 4 colours, 4 steps to a better work-life balance.
Try it and see how you feel – and let me know. 😊