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The Mystery of Work Life Balance

The Mystery of Work Life Balance

Kate is a hard-working manager working at a startup company.  She toils at work but gets that nagging feeling that she’s missing out on living her life. And then perversely, when she’s not working, she tries to switch off ‘work-mode’ to enjoy her passions, friends, family… but eventually she finds that she just doesn’t have the energy.

Many people are like Kate, misunderstanding the true meaning of work life balance. They try to keep ‘work’ and ‘life’ separate, but this brings undesirable results.

Where the Curse of Work Life Balance Begins

Those who are trying to maintain a work life balance only by dividing their time – by driving a sharp wedge between work-mode and life-mode – are inadvertently dividing themselves.

When people juxtapose ‘work’ and ‘life’, they unconsciously think in terms of ‘work’ versus ‘life’ – and are constantly forced to choose one at the expense of the other.  In this framework, a gain on one side is always a loss on the other side.

And so people start to see ‘work’ as the times when they are not living their lives. ‘Work’ is seen as a necessary evil that they must suffer through until it’s time to switch off. But if you encode everything related to work as negativity and suffering, while your ‘life’ strains under the weight of unrealistic expectations of enjoyment, there really is no balance there at all.

Re-balancing work and life is possible by seeking out a new and enjoyable job to a certain extent. But no job is perfect. There are always going to be tedious aspects to any job. And before long you’ll wind up on the same ‘life’ versus ‘work’ see-saw because you haven’t changed the old framework.

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The Only Way to Break the Curse

The true goal is to redistribute the positive (+) and negative (-) evenly across life.

Most people try to make it all positive off work to compensate the negativity at work like this:

    If it’s all negative at work and all positive when the work mode is switched off, the work performance will suffer – creating even more negativity. People will lean heavily on their off-mode life for happiness, but they can’t truly achieve happiness because they are not facing the problems at work.

    Conversely, there are those who do strive to put positivity into their work life. Their work life balance looks like this:

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      Unfortunately, if these people are still stuck in the old on/off framework, all the negativity will shift to their off-mode self, and their relationships and health will suffer.

      Very few lucky people experience positivity on both sides of the equation, their work life balance looks like this:

        If you are one of those who experience positivity in both sides, lucky you! You are one of the less than 5% of the population.

        For the rest of the 95% of the population, here is a cure to having a realistic work life balance.

        The solution is to recover the sense of a unified self. When you do, you’ll dismantle the competing work/life binary, and you’ll stop unconsciously labelling work as ‘suffering’ and life as ‘enjoyment’. Positive energy will begin to flow smoothly and effortlessly through your life.

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        To recover the sense of a unified self, ask yourself: Why do I really do what I do, in life and in work?

        Your answer to this question make up your blueprint of a unified self, charged with meaning that relates directly to who you are and what you care about.

        Use your blueprint now to examine your life at work, your leisure time and your relationships and see if they align with each other. The new framework is no longer ‘balance’, but ‘alignment’.

        This will reveal to you a number of things:

        • There are aspects of your work that are not suffering: Look again and you’ll find many positive aspects that reflect what you care about. For example, you may value creativity, and realize that you get the opportunity to show it at work every day.
        • Things you care about at ‘work’ are the same as what you care about in your ‘life’: For example, you may value friendship in your life, and you also practice this value with your colleagues. Your values exist in all your interactions, and serve your unified self.
        • What you do at work and what you do in your life support and enhance each other: For example, the same generosity you show your friends can forge good client relationships when practiced at work. Your resourcefulness at work can be used to solve obstacles in your personal life.

        Crucially, you never need to use the on/off work model again because you’re constantly acting in accordance with what you truly value. As a result, you’ll find that your positive energy will not be subject to draining or overflowing, off/on, but will instead flow consistently through all your states of being in a perpetual positive feedback loop.

        This is how a realistic work life balance is like:

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          A Life Without the Distressing Curse

          Your renewed conceptualisation from ‘balance’ to ‘alignment’ is an inner transformation that can empower you whatever your current circumstances are.

          For example, it may reveal that you truly are suffering in your current job. But now you can unroll your blueprint to identify the cause of the negativity (i.e. what isn’t aligning with what you value?) and either remind yourself why you’re really doing what you’re doing, or make a tweak… or indeed change your job.

          Even if the latter, you can still be sustained by positivity until you find that new job. You may hate your everyday tasks, but one of things you value is to be a good provider for your family – so you’re spurred on, knowing that you’re doing that every day.

          Or if you’re a workaholic, your blueprint may reveal that what you previously undervalued as ‘off-mode’ (relaxing, having fun, pursuing a passion, spending time with family and friends) actually contain a wealth of values that support – and even enhance – a well-rounded working life.

          A value-rich and optimally tuned work life alignment helps maintain a flow of positive energy and happiness in all aspects of being. So go ahead and make the blueprint of you.

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

          40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2019 Updated) How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter 4 Self-Help Tips You’ll Want to Avoid How to Drastically Increase Your Free Time How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

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          Last Updated on June 17, 2019

          40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2019 Updated)

          40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2019 Updated)

          Over the years here at Lifehack, we’ve discussed plenty of apps that you can use to improve your overall productivity.

          There are certain ones that many of our contributors and editors (past and present) have adopted over the long-term — there are always the stalwarts that stick around. But there are also new apps that crop up every day, adding more and more depth to the app category.

          Some of the apps are incredibly plain and simple, while others are more robust and offer more features than you can shake a stick at. And everyone has the one they prefer.

          It’s been our job (and still is our job) to keep abreast of all of the productivity-type apps out there. As a result — and as a bit of a refresher — we’ve put together a list of 40 best productivity apps for iPhone (all categorized based on their functions) to provide you with an all-in-one resource for you.

          For Getting Things Done

          1. OmniFocus

          This app is, while pricey, considered to be one of the (if not the) most robust and full-featured productivity apps on the market.

          Download it here.

            2. Forest

            Train yourself to put your phone down and stay focused on the task at hand by playing with this planting game. It’s fun and will help you achieve more.

            Download it here.

              3. Things

              Another robust choice, this app is a favorite amongst “productivityists”.[1]

              Download it here.

                4. 30/30

                Recently covered here at Lifehack

                , 30/30 is a newcomer to the game that incorporates lists and timing of tasks into an elegant and easy-to-use interface.

                Download it here.

                  5. Any.Do

                  A beautiful-looking app that is both easy on the eyes and your wallet.

                  Download it here.

                    6. PocketLife Calendar

                    This calendar app is specifically designed to be stylish and super easy-to-use. You can organize your life easily with different modern features.

                    Download it here.

                      7. Asana

                      We’ve covered Asana here at Lifehack

                      , and it is being actively developed by a strong team committed to making collaborative task management a more efficient and effective experience.

                      Download it here.

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                        8. ToDoist

                        This app keeps track of everything – from simple errands to your most important projects – so you can get it all done and enjoy more peace of mind along the way.

                        Download it here.

                          9. FlowTasks

                          From the folks at MetaLab, Flow is a gorgeous collaborative task management app that is easy-to-use and incredibly functional.

                          Download it here.

                            10. Calendars 5

                            This calendar app focuses on events that help you to keep track of upcoming events and tasks easily. It has everything you need to organize, track and complete your to-dos.

                            Download it here.

                              11. Clear – Tasks, Reminders & To-Do Lists

                              A fun and innovative list-making app that relies on swiping and pinching to make things happen. Clear created a lot of buzz when it launched, and might be the perfect to-do list gateway app for many.

                              Download it here.

                                12. Due

                                A robust reminders app that lets you store and maintain reminders of all types. It’s replaced Reminders for me when it comes to the basics, and it’s worth a look if you want to keep the mundane stuff out of your head and cluttering your mind.

                                Download it here.

                                  13. Checkmark 2

                                  I use this app

                                  for location-based reminders (such as groceries I need to get or single items I need to pick up from various locations). Checkmark is simple to use and a valuable addition to my productivity arsenal.

                                  Download it here.

                                    14. TeuxDeux

                                    Created by Tina Roth Eisenberg and Fictive Kin — Teux Deux is simple and incredibly stellar in terms of design. If you like lists (including the popular “Someday Bucket”) and want to associate dates with tasks, then Teux Deux will be right up your alley.

                                    Download it here.

                                      15. Wunderlist 

                                      Another incredibly popular choice is Wunderlist. Part of 6Wunderkinder’s software family, it sports a gorgeous design and is incredibly functional. We’ve talked about the app a couple of times here at Lifehack, so check those posts out here.

                                      Download it here.

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                                        16. Nirvana

                                        For the GTD enthusiasts, there’s Nirvana. Straight from the source: “Nirvana frees your mind to focus on actually getting things done. If you’ve had enough of generic to-do lists, it’s time for Nirvana.”

                                        Download it here.

                                          17. Priorities

                                          An elegant-looking task management app that has received decent reviews,[2] this could be the one for you if you’re not a fan of OmniFocus or Things — especially if you need (or want) to share tasks with others.

                                          Download it here.

                                            For Building Habits

                                            18. Productive

                                            With this app, you can plan your habits with an easy-to-use interface, schedule habits for any time of the day, set smart reminders for each time of the day and stay on track with useful feedback. This app is perfect for anyone who wants to build a habit that sticks.

                                            Download it here.

                                              19. Habitica: Gamified Taskmanager

                                              You can complete tasks and build habits in a more fun way with this app. Input your Habits, your Daily goals, and your To-Do list, and then create a custom avatar. Check off tasks to level up your avatar and unlock features such as armor, pets, skills, and even quests.

                                              Download it here.

                                                20. Streaks

                                                This app follows the model of the popular “don’t break the chain method” in that you use the app to track how you are donig in the pursuit of your goal. Great for goal-setting — and an easy and elegant interface to boot.

                                                Download it here.

                                                  21. Remember The Milk

                                                  Another popular to-do list app, Remember The Milk has a huge following. It has plenty to offer, including the ability to share tasks with others.

                                                  Download it here.

                                                    22. Day One Journal

                                                    When it comes to journaling, nothing really beats Day One. Its latest update added a slew of features that will make you want to start making journaling a habit.

                                                    Download it here.

                                                      For Files Organization

                                                      23. Evernote

                                                      Touted as the world’s most widely-used productivity app, Evernote an be used simply as a notetaking app or can be customized to be your GTD app of choice — among other things.

                                                      Download it here.

                                                        24. Pocket

                                                        You can save an article, video or link you want to read or watch later to Pocket from anywhere including your computer, Safari, email, and your favorite apps like Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, and Feedly.

                                                        Download it here.

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                                                          25. Sync.Me

                                                          This app identifies unknown phone calls, warns you from annoying spam calls, and adds a caller picture to your contacts from Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

                                                          Download it here.

                                                            26. Droplr

                                                            One of the most popular file-sharing apps out there today. Straight from the source: “Stay productive on the go. Droplr for iPhone keeps you in sync and makes sharing on the iPhone natural.”

                                                            Download it here.

                                                              27. Dropbox

                                                              Before iCloud, there was Dropbox. And there still is Dropbox, which is still widely used by both Mac and PC users all over the globe. It’s like having a flash drive in your iPhone. A must-have.

                                                              Download it here.

                                                                28. iDolly 

                                                                In conjunction with Dolly Drive and DollySync, iDolly allows you to edit and share your documents from your iPhone.

                                                                Since all your changes sync automatically to all your devices, the current version of a document will always be accessible because Dolly Sync keeps everything in sync. Very handy.

                                                                Download it here.

                                                                  29. Soulver

                                                                  It may seem odd that a calculator app shows up on this list, but this is no ordinary calendar app. Ben Brooks over at The Brooks review describes Soulver as follows: “It is what calculators would have been if they were invented at the same time computers were, instead of what we have with most calculator apps.” [3]

                                                                  Download it here.

                                                                    For Working Smarter

                                                                    30. Captio

                                                                    A simple capture tool. Straight from the developers: “It’s simple. Open Captio and start typing. When you’re done, hit Send. The note is immediately delivered to your email inbox.”

                                                                    Download it here.

                                                                      31. Drafts

                                                                      A tremendous capture tool that allows for simple capture, followed by sending items to various applications such as OmniFocus, Things and more.

                                                                      Download it here.

                                                                        32. NoteShelf 2

                                                                        This is a perfect note-taking app for you. You can take beautiful handwritten notes, type, annotate PDFs, record audio & create lists. You can organize them into categories or groups.

                                                                        Download it here.

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                                                                          33. Doodle

                                                                          This app links directly with the Doodle service, which is one that allows you to plan and organize meetings far more efficiently and effectively. Lifehack contributor Steve Dotto has written about Doodle more in-depth here.

                                                                          Download it here.

                                                                            34. TextExpander (Legacy)

                                                                            I have saved countless hours of time with TextExpander, and despite its inability to be as robust on iOS as it is on the Mac, it is still a worthy app to have in your arsenal.

                                                                            Download it here.

                                                                              35. Launch Center Pro

                                                                              A quick launcher for the iPhone that doesn’t just launch an app…with some of them it can do much more. This app saves you time by launching complex actions in a single tap.

                                                                              Download it here.

                                                                                36. GoodReader

                                                                                This may seem to be an odd one to make this list, but here are plenty of reasons why it is here with this article.

                                                                                Download it here.

                                                                                  37. LogMeIn

                                                                                  Want to be able to control your Mac from wherever you are? Then get this app.

                                                                                  Download it here.

                                                                                    For Improving Security

                                                                                    38. 1Password

                                                                                    There is simply no better password manager out there. I’ve even put together a 1Password Emergency Kit worth looking at here.

                                                                                    Download it here.

                                                                                      39. LastPass Password Manager

                                                                                      You can store passwords and logins, create online shopping profiles, generate strong passwords, track personal information in photo and audio notes.

                                                                                      All you have to do is remember your LastPass master password, and LastPass autofills web browser and app logins for you.

                                                                                      Download it here.

                                                                                        40. Truecallers

                                                                                        Identify and block spammers, search for unknown numbers and call friends easily with this app. With a community-based spam list from over 250 million users, you’ll need this app.

                                                                                        Download it here.

                                                                                          There are plenty of other options out there (and we’ve heard from readers in the past as to what they enjoyed using), but these 40 are among the best.

                                                                                          More Great Apps Recommendations

                                                                                          Reference

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