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Last Updated on August 27, 2020

10 Signs You Have Created a Good Work-Life Balance

10 Signs You Have Created a Good Work-Life Balance

Creating a good work-life balance is a struggle for many people. However, maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves, as this concept is fairly new.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known instance of the phrase only dates back to 1977. The dictionary defines the term broadly: “Of or relating to both work and personal life; designating the relationship between the two.”

Today work-life-balance is a common notion and a concept many people pursue. Fortunately, there are some indicators that can help you find out if you’ve managed to achieve a good work-life balance. Let’s get started!

1. You Have Clear Priorities

Coming up with clear priorities for your life means that decisions are easier. You know who is most important to you, and which values you want to focus on with your goals.

If you haven’t yet defined your personal values, you can get started with this article.

Your priorities will shift and evolve over time. This is normal and good! A newly minted lawyer in his/her mid-20s may accept working sixty hours per week to build experience, while a senior professional often has the confidence, experience, and perspective to say no in order to create free time to focus on his/her family or hobbies.

2. You Know When to Say No

Saying no at work is an art. If you constantly say no to the management, your reputation will gradually erode (and your chances for better opportunities and promotions will do the same). On the other hand, a thoughtful no demonstrates that you are thinking through your priorities.

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Do your best to only say no when you feel it’s necessary. This is a skill, and one that develops over time. If you feel that you need some time to focus on coping with stress, don’t be afraid to say no to that extra weekend project your boss wants you to take on. Kindly suggest that it can wait until Monday.

3. You Know That Balance Changes Daily

When you think of work-life balance, you may imagine an ideal world where you arrive home each and every weekday at 6pm. Unfortunately, you may not be able to achieve these work hours every week.

For example, corporate accounting professionals often experience long hours during the month-end process. If you know that you will face longer hours at certain times of the year, plan in advance to meet those commitments. Of course, if you have just completed ten straight weeks of sixty-hour work, then you probably need to reassess your work habits.

The idea is to achieve balance as often as possible but not to stress out when one day feels a little off.

4. You Don’t Measure Value With “Face Time”

Unless your workplace operates based on a billable hour model, simply logging more hours does not create more value. In fact, Parkinson’s Law[1] suggests that adding time to your work day causes you to lose focus. After all, you may think that you can log in “just a few minutes” on Facebook because you can always make up the time later.

You can learn how to use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage here.

Work experience, education and specialization are critical factors in attaining a high income. Simply logging more hours at the office, regardless of value, does not matter. Make the most of your time at the office with good time management skills, and watch the value of your work increase.

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5. You Proactively Manage Energy

On a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate your energy and effectiveness at 10am? How does that compare to 4pm? Many people find that their energy and ability to focus gradually declines throughout the day. If this is happening, it may be time to learn how to manage your energy more.

You may need to get more sleep and use other stress management techniques to keep your energy at a steady level throughout the day. This will help you save some time and energy for when you go home to your family—few spouses and children enjoy spending time with zombies.

It’s normal to experience a lull in energy in the afternoon, but your energy should come back before you clock out. If not, you can try adjusting your diet, squeezing in an afternoon workout, or taking a short nap when you get home in order to stimulate your body’s energy reserves.

6. You Work for a Company That Values Work-Life Balance

Some organizations have a better track record in the area of work-life balance than others. Instead of attempting to change the dysfunctional culture of a large organization by yourself, do yourself a favor and work for an organization that values work-life balance.

Fortunately, more and more companies are recognizing the importance of work-life balance, so you can find good options in many different industries.

If you’re looking for a new job, try to feel out the company culture during your interview. You can even explicitly ask for the hiring managers thoughts on work-life balance.

7. You Exercise Several Times a Week

Some people consider exercise a luxury to be enjoyed and pursued “some time in the future.” If you are living a balanced life, you have understood the importance of getting exercise.

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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an effective exercise week includes both aerobic activity (e.g. walking, running, cycling, swimming) and muscle-strengthening activities (e.g. lifting weights and/or body weight exercises)[2].

Without an effective exercise routine, your energy levels will decline and that will impact your ability to work and enjoy life.

8. You Plan One Enjoyable Activity Every Day

Anticipation makes life sweeter and more enjoyable. Growing up, you may have looked forward to your birthday or Christmas for weeks. Fortunately, you can harness that same power each and every day with your personal time.

It could be something like reading a book for half an hour, attending a concert, going out for quality time with friends, opening the occasional bottle of wine, or watching a new series on Netflix.

Without something enjoyable to look forward to, the daily grind becomes much more challenging.

9. You Use Your Vacation Days to Relax

One 2019 study reported that “fifty-five percent of workers reported that they did not use all of their vacation days”[3]. Of those lost vacation days, “236 million were completely forfeited, which comes out to $65.5 billion in lost benefits.”

Your paid vacation time is part of your compensation, so failing to use it is like setting cash on fire. Use this time away from work to recuperate your energy and focus on your mental health.

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Here are five ideas on how to use vacation time to achieve better work-life-balance:

  • Save up money and finally go for that “bucket list” trip to Europe.
  • Use the time to take care of a long-neglected household project.
  • Take an extended Christmas vacation.
  • Take a class or seminar to deepen your appreciation of your interests.

10. You Use Systems to Stay Focused

Do you have systems and habits to stay focused and productive? That’s one of the best ways to save time so that you leave the office on time each and every day.

You can start by creating some professional assets to increase your effectiveness. You can also experiment with different ways (and different times) to commute to the office. In some organizations, you can achieve a great deal before 9am because the office tends to be quiet early in the morning.

If you have trouble focusing throughout the day, try using block scheduling or the Pomodoro Method to keep you on track.

Final Thoughts

If you have already managed to create a good work-life balance, that’s great! If you’ve read through this list and realized that you’re missing a few pieces, it’s never too late to get started. Find what helps you feel both productive and fulfilled to create a life you can be proud of.

More on Creating Work-Life Balance

Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

Reference

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on October 28, 2020

The Crucial Letter Your SMART Goal Is Missing

The Crucial Letter Your SMART Goal Is Missing

SMART goals are a simple, logical way to organize your goals as you set them throughout life. Not only does this technique help you identify reachable goals, but it helps break down goals into smaller and more manageable pieces.

However, there is one crucial element (or letter) that is missing from this acronym. This missing letter can potentially make it harder for you to reach your goal – no matter how well you have broken down your goal into different pieces and action steps. However, once you understand this missing piece, you’ll be able to use it to move forward with your goals.

What Are Smart Goals?

If you are not familiar with the SMART goal setting technique and what the acronym means, here is a brief rundown with a simple example:

  • S = Specific — Your goal has to be specific enough (“I want to lose 4 inches off my waist”).
  • M = Measurable — You can measure your waistline every week to keep track of your progress.
  • A = Achievable — Do you think that you can do this? Or are you going too far by getting rid of yet another 4 inches? Or should you expand the goal to 5 inches; is that within reach?
  • R = Realistic — Is your lifestyle stable enough that you can commit to this goal?  Are you mentally prepared to do this? Do you have the resources you need for this goal?
  • T = Time-framed — You could want to achieve this goal within a week or within six months, but it should have a specific time frame.

As you can see, when you break down your goals like this, they become much more manageable and concrete than just saying “I want to to be slimmer.”

All fine and well, except that there is a crucial letter missing in this package – another letter “A.”

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The Missing Letter

The other letter “A” stands for accountability, and this is a great way to make sure that your defined plan is actually executed and is not left just on the talking or planning level. Even if you have crafted a masterful plan by using the SMART goal technique, it becomes useless if you don’t actually execute it. To make sure you start the execution phase, you want to throw some accountability into the mix.

By having some external pressure on your back (in the form of accountability), you are more likely to take action on your goal steps than if you just keep the plan to yourself. Accountability is based on the fact that you want to stand behind your words and save face. When you announce your goal to the world, you realize that the world is now watching you, and you don’t want to let the world down.

Accountability is also about facing the expectations of others. If you announce a goal or a task in public, other people are expecting you will achieve the tasks and goals you have laid out for yourself.

Watch this video and find out how by having dependable accountability, you can reach your goal more efficiently:

Ways to Implement the Letter “A” in Your Goal

There are plenty of ways you can go about creating accountability. Choose which one will work to motivate you the most.

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1. Keep It to Yourself

I was a bit hesitant to include this, since in this scenario you are not telling others about your plans or tasks. However, for some people this might work since your conscience is your accountability partner in this situation. And you don’t want to let your conscience down.

2. Announce It to Other People

Your people could be your colleagues at work, your local golf club buddies, the subscribers and readers of your blog, or your Twitter followers. I would say that accountability is more effective when dealing with “offline people.” Being accountable face-to-face to someone is very effective.

I’m in no way underestimating the power of “online people” either. If you are trying to form solid relationships with others online, you want to keep your word – even if you don’t necessarily meet the people in the same sense as in the offline world.

3. Find an Accountability Partner

A more intimate way of being accountable is to find an accountability partner. This could be a friend or spouse, but it needs to be someone you feel comfortable reporting to. When this route is chosen, you might decide to call your partner on a frequent basis to tell them how well you are progressing on the goal.

4. Get on Stickk.com

If none of the above ways work for you, it’s time to put Stickk into play.

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Stickk.com is a website where you can announce your goal (“Commitment Contract”), and to make you even more committed to reaching that goal, there is money at stake. Money is not mandatory to get set up with Stickk, but knowing that you will lose a certain amount of money if you don’t reach your goal can give you an extra push to get stuff done.

5. Join Mastermind Groups

A mastermind group is a group of like-minded people gathering on a frequent basis (online or offline), trying to push each other closer to their goals. This type of accountability is very common in the business world. When you are in a mastermind group and you have set the objectives you want to achieve by the next meeting, you want to get stuff done and fulfill other’s expectations.

Mastermind groups are a great way to improve your productivity and reach your goals with the help of others.

6. Hire a Coach

If you really want to get personal attention for your goals, then hiring a personal coach may be the best way to stay accountable.

Not only are you accountable to your coach, but you also have to pay for his/her attention. This makes the coach option even more effective. You want to make sure you do everything you can to get the assignments done before the deadline you two have set. So, there is a money factor to keep you accountable as well. Since you want to quickly move forward, this option is a very effective for staying accountable with your SMART goals.

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The Bottom Line

Next time, set your goal using “SMARTA,” instead. Add that letter “A” to the SMART goal setting technique:

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-framed, Accountable.

The accountability factor of reaching your goals may be just the thing you need to make them a reality.

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Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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