Work-life balance? Forget it. I’m serious. It’s a misnomer and it can set you up for failure. Work-life balance implies that if you spend a set amount of time on your work, you’ll have to spend that same amount of time on whatever else makes up your life – personal time, physical fitness, family, parenthood, hobbies, etc.
Basically, everything that is important to you – work and the rest of your life – is split between two opposite ends of the spectrum. They’re either/or. But for most entrepreneurs, work isn’t just work. It’s passion. It’s purpose. It’s a dream realized. It’s an important part of their daily life. That’s why work-life balance is a bad idea – and work-life effectiveness should be the goal. My goal is to impact entrepreneurship and to help small businesses. Once I figured out what I wanted, I clearly articulated this goal with my colleagues and they have worked with me to help achieve this goal.
You don’t have to have a company to work for yourself. Whatever you are passionate about requires you to be constantly engaged – not just during work hours. Even if you’re working on a team in the corporate world, focusing on what you want and making decisions toward those goals is key.
How do you do this and still have time to unplug and regroup? You have to rethink how you work and when you work. Don’t be afraid to make changes that will make you more successful. I’ve become happier and more productive with these key strategies – and you can too. Here are the key strategies that have helped me.
1. You may be the problem.
If you aren’t productive, you need to get realistic about how you spend your time. Do you really know what takes up your time each day? Do you guard your time like a hawk? If not, now is the time to start if you want work-life effectiveness.
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2. Clear out the clutter.
Communication can create clutter – especially in your email inbox. Clear out the clutter so it’s more streamlined and focused. As a general rule of thumb – if you haven’t clicked on a newsletter or update list in two months, just unsubscribe.
3. Stop using auto-replies.
When you clear the clutter out from your inbox, you can focus on the messages that are most important. These are the ones you always want to be available for. Set up specific VIP lists for emails within your email program. Set up the email notification tone for this VIP group to be a different sound than your normal email alert to keep distractions lower. My iPhone tone is “bamboo” for my VIP list, while the others are just a chime sound. I know if I hear that tone, it’s an important email that I need to respond to.
4. Be available via text.When you take time away from the office, leave texting as an option for a close knit group that you work with. Otherwise, you could be holding things up while you’re away because a collaborator thinks they should not contact you. I set a personal goal to always make myself available by a number of channels – including text, email, Skype, chat, and both office and mobile phones. Remember, your work and your life are allies. You don’t have to separate the two completely.
5. Blur weekends and weekdays.
Don’t work for the weekends as they are always over too soon. If you want work-life effectiveness, treat each day like an opportunity for work and play, and embrace flexibility. I got addicted to this way of doing things when I started working for myself. Blend it all together so it works for you and makes you happy. I keep a weekend list of small upkeep items for work and my life that are five minutes or less. This helps free up more hours across the week.
Again, work-life effectiveness is not for everyone, but it has value to me and for many of my entrepreneur/intraprenuer colleagues. Why shouldn’t your life become more happy, successful and productive if it aligns with your personal goals?
From Lawton Ursrey at Forbes.com