I have noticed that many people, at one point or another, struggle to find time to cope with the demands of modern day life, especially as we are surrounded by technology. We are all ‘expected’ to strike a reasonable balance between the needs of our personal lives and professional careers. But in reality, it is a very tough task.
In a study done by OECD, reveals that:
1 in every 8 employees works 50 hours or more per week.
Turkey is by far the country with the highest proportion of people working very long hours, with 34%, followed by Mexico with nearly 30%. In South Africa, almost 19% of employees work very long hours, more than the OECD average of 13. This is quite alarming!
The work-life challenge: A key focus area for all managers
In a previous article, I have given some pointers how you, in your role as a manager and leader, can support your team striking the sweet-spot between a healthy work-life balance.
The reality is that leaders also need to fill their own cup. Many of my clients say they feel overwhelmed by what we need to do and achieve in a day. They also say, “there is just not enough time in one day” (sounds familiar?) and sometimes they even feel run-down, frustrated or anxious.
This all boils down to BOUNDARIES.
If you are a go-getter and crave to feel less overwhelmed, consider one of these 5 suggestions:
1. Important vs urgent – make time to reflect:
Daily reflection can be a way of creating mind space as it allows one the opportunity to gain perspective on situations we find challenging. Many successful people make it a daily habit of taking time to reflect.
By reflecting, we can consider what didn’t work, acknowledge what went wrong and choose a different way to prevent it from happening again.
An easy way to start reflecting is to do a one-sentence journal every day; also list and incorporate something that you are grateful for. If you need some inspiration, Ulysses.org provides a few good sentence starters.
2. If you take on new things, consider what you’re going to park?
All we have is time. The way you spend your time determines the quality of your life. I’m a strong believer in having a growth mindset and being a life-long learner; we all should find time to pursue goals and interest outside our family and work life.
Having said that, I’m mindful that we sometimes take on too much and set ourselves up for failure. If you take on a new hobby, venture or enroll for a course, consider choosing something that you are currently doing that you can “park” for a season.
3. Learn to say no without feeling guilty
‘No’ is also an answer. The truth is: if you say no, you are in fact just taking control of your life and prioritizing what is more important to you at that current time. Warren Buffet says, “the difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
We can’t all be “yes-people” – imagine what the world would look like? When saying no, don’t beat around the bush or offer a weak excuse; just say it. In a study done by Prof Hagtveld he suggests one uses the words “I don’t” rather than “I can’t”. The latter might sound like an excuse whilst “I don’t” implies you have established certain boundaries for yourself.
4. Choose a support system you can trust
Most working women feel trapped. They feel they need to take control of every single aspect in their lives – personal and professional… and that is exhausting! We need to remember that we don’t have to do everything ourselves.
As we successfully delegate certain tasks at work; similarly, we need to delegate duties in our personal lives as well.
Yes, the #TheJuggleIsReal, I have been there…trying to do everything myself. Being a supermom at home and being an ambitious colleague at work. I felt drained most of the time.
How do you get out of this rut?
- Get a support system in place that you can rely on. It could be arranging a lift-club at school, assigning a tutor or Au pair helping the kids with homework or choosing to do your grocery shopping online.
- Discuss sharing chores with your partner; many modern partners are more open to taking on non-traditional tasks e.g. cooking dinner, doing the washing or putting the kids to bed.
- The best advice that I have received as a working mother was: “be present in the moment”. This simply means choosing to focus on what you’re doing and not allowing your mind to wander to other urgent matters. I often find that when I’m busy helping the kids with homework my mind is already busy with the presentation for the next morning. I then need to refocus and choose to concentrate on the important and not the urgent.
5. Are you clear on your vision or purpose?
Do you know why you are you getting up in the morning? If not, this can significantly impact your journey as you have nothing to align your priorities with.
In his research, Richard Leider, found that many 65-year old people said they wish they have understood their purpose earlier in life. Make time to clarify your vision as this will guide your choices.