Learn from event mentorship program expert May Silvers as she discusses work-life balance. Is it really possible?
A balanced lifestyle.. what exactly does that mean? Is that even possible? Are we all chasing a “work-life” balanced lifestyle?
My thoughts on all these… There is no “true” balance in life. It’s all about “counter-balance” so we are not at the extreme of each end causing “out of balance” in life and at work.
This is such a commonly debated and discussed topic so I am going to break it down into 3 points to sum up how I feel about this whole concept of balanced lifestyle.
#1: If you are focusing on 1 thing, you are not focusing your time on other things.
Therefore, there is an "imbalance". Is that a bad thing? Not necessary. To achieve greatness or mastery of 1 thing, you need to spend at least 10000 hours to perfect that.
Look at world class athletes. They sacrifice spending time with friends and family so that they can practice and practice in order to compete at the highest level. They do not have a balanced lifestyle, but that is the decision they and their family made when they make up their mind to be the best at what they do, and they have to accept and embrace that decision.
#2: Multi-tasking means "splitting the attention" between 2 or more tasks, so there is no "actual" balance.
When you are multitasking, you are basically in a "distracted mode" for all the tasks you are multitasking. We are taught to believe that multitasking means we are efficient, thus you are able to have a more balanced lifestyle because you are able to do many things at one time leading to more free time on your hand.
In reality, the answer is both true AND false. Your brain is NOT wired to give full FOCUSED attention to more than 1 particular task at a time. Try writing an email and watch a webinar at the same time. You will either miss some points on the webinar when you are trying to focus on what you are writing. Ultimately, you are "neither here nor there" and most probably ended up spending MORE time because now you have to go re-watch the webinar, or you have to go back and rewrite your email.
So, why does everyone say we need to multitask to be more efficient so we can have more time thus leading to living a more balanced lifestyle? Multitasking is not all bad... If you are planning to multitask, just make sure that one of the tasks you are doing absolutely does not require ANY of your focus, so you are purely dependent on your muscle memory, subconscious mind or "habit".
For instance, I always listen to a podcast while doing a power walk in my neighborhood where I am very familiar with the path and surroundings. I do not need to pay attention to where I am and where I am going, and I can pay full attention to the podcast. I was able to kill two birds with 1 stone, get my exercise AND squeezing in some learning simultaneously. Now, I have more time left to spend with my family, thus living a more balance lifestyle.
If I am doing power walking in an unfamiliar area, I will have to split my attention on knowing where I am to avoid getting lost, and while I am doing that, I miss some parts of the podcast which I then have to playback to listen again.
#3: Time block your task to achieve "perceived" balance.
When you block a specific time in your day to do a specific task, make sure you give FULL attention to the task you time block for. We don't want to be thinking about what you need to do next when you are trying to complete the task at hand or fall into the multitasking trap.
For instance, when I first started my coaching company and worked many hours, I felt very guilty for not spending enough time with my toddler. But when I am spending time with her, I am so worried that I can't meet the project deadlines and will be working on my phone, giving only 50% or less attention to my daughter. She will then say "Mama, did you see me do that"? And I will feel so bad that I missed what she was doing because I was working on my phone.
And I realized at the end of the day, I did not really spend quality time with my daughter, I was just "there". I also did not give my work the full attention it deserved, because I was just "there" checking in, writing stuff here and there. I ended up having to go back and re-work the work, and I also can't really remember those special moments when my daughter asked me "Mama, did you see me do that"? I felt like s%&t all around. I fell into the multitasking trap.
So I learn to time block and give respect to what I time blocked for. If I time blocked to play with my daughter, she gets my full attention. I am 100000% with her. Once that time is up, I move to the work task I time blocked for. I make sure that I go 10000% all in while doing that task, and I also make sure everyone respects the time blocks I created throughout the day. This is easily achievable because everyone and everything gets their "deserved" time, so I actually attained the "perceived" balanced lifestyle :)
If you are chasing the Instagram and Pinterest worthy image of a balanced lifestyle, you are chasing a unicorn lifestyle. A balanced lifestyle is all about setting priorities and giving the time each priority deserves. Once each priority is attended to, you will feel that you have accomplished a lot and hence, feel "balance".
I love to hear what your thoughts are about a balanced lifestyle. Drop in the comments below if you could relate to what I highlighted in the blog!
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