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May 12, 2014
by Eddins Counseling Group, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP

Manage Your Life, Don’t Let it Manage You! Achieving Work Life Balance in a Busy World

May 12, 2014 02:55 by Eddins Counseling Group, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP

Paradox of Modern Life

As you may realize, the faster we go, the more we take on, the more there is to do. We are too busy! Our labor saving devices create more labor. According to the author, Edward Hallowell, for 59% of working women, information overload is a cause of stress: swamped with emails, voicemails, etc. 67% state they find it hard to switch off and relax 1/3 of employees in the US feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do. You must have a strategy or you will feel helpless and overwhelmed.

While no one has total control, most people have more control than they exert.

However, you should not seek total control. Once you pass a certain point of control, the more you try to gain control, the less control you gain. Process of trying to gain complete control drains so much of your time, attention and energy you have little left to exert the control you gained.

Assess Yourself:

What matters most to you? What leads to the most impact in your family, work, or other areas of life? Keep in mind:

•       Your time and attention are more valuable than ever before

•       Cultivate projects and people that make you feel fulfilled

•       Weed out people or projects that waste your time and attention

•       Address the habit, guilt, stubbornness, or fear as a reason for not letting go of “weeds”. A therapist can help you get to the root of your procrastination or holding onto too much.

•       Don’t waste time trying to get good at what you’re bad at, try to do what you’re good at!

•       Make sure you do what matters to you MOST. Everything else that is done is in support of this goal. You will have to manage the unique obstacles of modern life to achieve this, so let’s discuss strategies Edward Hallowell, MD shares in his book, “Crazy Busy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap!”.

Strategies for Maintaining Work Life Balance:

     1. Manage guilt over not having done enough, missing something or disappointing someone.

–      Keeping track of everything and having enough time to please everyone is impossible.

–      Recognize the reasonable aspects and make amends; talk with someone about the unreasonable aspects and why you can’t do everything.

–      Guilt does not respond well to reason – supplement reason with structure.

–      Set limits on what you commit to, reserve time for what matters most to you.

–      Remind yourself that you would be of much less use to others if you did not do what matters most to you some of the time.

  1. Accept limits

–      Do you know where your time goes?

–      Have a system that will dictate your commitments (i.e., I will serve on only 1 volunteer committee at a time; I will only take a certain # of clients per day).

–      How you decide to use your time is a reflection of who you are and what you FEEL matters most (you may think one way, but feel another).

–      As demands mount, people lose ability to stop and think, to prioritize and say no.

  1. Don’t spread yourself too thin

–      If you don’t deliberately protect time to do what matters most it is likely that you will not do it or give it the time it deserves.  

–      Focus on what you like and do best.

–      Say NO thank you to many people and activities.

–      Give yourself permission to get rid of what hinders you: projects, people, ideas (i.e., it is bad to say no to a friend).

–      This does not mean that you will become selfish; do what nourishes you.

–      Prioritize your friends with firmer and fewer plans.

  1. Create a positive emotional environment

–      This is not a frill!

–      Emotion is the on/off switch for effective mental functioning.

–      Keep up positive relationships with people wherever you are.

–      Without this, lose ability to perform.

–      When you feel safe in your environment, welcomed and appreciated, you think better, you behave better, you work better, and you are better able to help others.

–      When the emotional atmosphere is less than positive people lose flexibility, enthusiasm, ability to deal with ambiguity and complexity, patience, humor and creativity. They become less able to cooperate, plan, delegate, organize, and perform all the other functions essential to thriving in a busy environment.

  1. Find your rhythm

–      Do you have a “morning burst” of energy (able to concentrate, think clearly)?

–      What time of day is this for you?

–      Do your most IMPORTANT and DIFFICULT work at this time – PROTECT this time!

–      Spot your moment of overload; back away and regroup – take a break!

  1. Invest your time wisely so you get maximum return

–      Avoid “screen sucking”.

–      Identify and control the sources of distractions in your environment: do your most important work FIRST.

–      Beware of magazines.

–      Turn off your cell phone: limit the time you take calls.

–      Set a limit on TV.

–      Close your door.

–      Take a break! Do not abandon the task you were doing once it becomes boring.

–      Address guilt: recognize the reasonable and unreasonable aspects of guilt; talk to someone.

–      Only Handle It Once (OHIO). File, discard, complete or delegate each item or piece of paper you touch.

–      When other items on your to do list beckon and the item you are working on now becomes difficult or boring, recognize this as a moment to take a break. Stand up and do a quick bit of exercise, have a glass of water, meditate for 3 minutes then go back to what you were working on before. Try not to let yourself abandon what you were doing.

–      Procrastination: try to adopt a motto, do it now and aggressively make yourself obey that motto whenever possible. The more you put something off, the more it looms.

  1. Manage toxic worry           

–      Talk to someone – never worry alone.

–      Get the facts – worry arises from lack of info.

–      Make a plan – be in control.

–      Discuss what needs to be discussed – set a time and place to do so.

  1. Delegate

–      What you don’t like to do or aren’t good at (if you can).

–      Your goal is not to be independent, but effectively INTERdependent.

–      You do for me and I’ll do for you: no one does it all for themselves.

  1. S….L….O….W down

–      The average American is working 160 hours more now than in 1960 (=1 more month!).

–      Our resting state doesn’t rest, rendering us impatient when we don’t need to be.

–      The time for anything grows shorter as we try to get more done.

  1. Don’t multi-task ineffectively

–      Give one task your full attention, you’ll do it better.

–      You may get so good at it that it becomes automatic – then you can add other tasks.

  1. PLAY – imaginatively engaging in what you are doing   

–      Any activity that lights up your brain, activates your imagination; it creates a force field around focus.

–      A person at play can work very hard.

–      Play will naturally bring to bear the best part of your mind.

–      You will not be as distracted as easily.

Principles to Help you Maintain Balance:

Here are 5 simple principles to help you maintain focus on what is most important:

 •       Connect: create a positive emotional environment.

•       Control: your technology, prioritize.

•       Cancel: what doesn’t really matter; try to think of at least 1 activity, meeting, or event you can cancel right now.

•       Create: structures and systems in your life such as a new filing cabinet, time for exercise, or an assistant.

•       Care: decide what you care about most. You do NOT have time for everything you care about, you must prioritize. 

What works for you? Share your strategies with us!

Find a Meaningful Career-

For help finding a new career with more meaning, balance and purpose, join our online group career coaching program, Create Your Inspired Career. Through the program, you will be guided through exercises and discussion to help you clarify your values, interests, strengths as well as your next career direction. The group coaching process is a powerful to learn from others and receive feedback about additional strengths in yourself. 

About the Author

Eddins Counseling Group Eddins Counseling Group, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP

Tired of struggling? It can be different - your life, your career, your relationships, and how you feel. With compassion, understanding and experience, we can help you find relief and create more peace, confidence, self-acceptance and joy in your life.

Eddins Counseling Group has a clinical practice in Houston, TX

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