1. Eat a healthy breakfast You knew we’d have to mention this so, to avoid disappointment, here it is. Remember that there’s no way you can maximise your effectiveness wherever you're working if you start the day with low energy and running on adrenalin. You might start well but it will catch up with you later.
Fuelling yourself properly at the beginning of the day, and topping up your energy levels regularly, will improve your clarity of thought, your decision-making abilities and your effectiveness. You'll get more done, more efficiently and you'll maintain a more positive outlook no matter how busy you are. You'll then have more energy and better mood for enjoying life beyond work, in the evenings and at weekends.
2. Set a finish time for each day If you are clear that you want to, have to and will be out of the 'office' by 5.30pm to hit the gym, meet with friends (in reality or on Zoom) or get home (or out of the home office) to eat dinner with the family, you'll run your day very differently than if you'd merely like to finish work on time but don't treat this objective as a high priority.
On busy days you may find that work might creep a little beyond 5.30pm but without a firm finish time to aim for, working until 7.00pm or 8.00pm and beyond can become the norm. Get stuck in this situation too often it can be a tricky habit to break. Decide early in the morning (or even the night before) when and how you’d like each day to end and you’ll be far more likely to find yourself working towards a longer evening you can enjoy.
3. A proactive work schedule prioritises quality over quantity
Getting strategic about what you do, who you meet, when you meet, how you communicate, and how you delegate tasks can save you and your team an enormous amount of time and effort.
Regularly pause to assess your working practices and make quick changes where appropriate. This will ensure bad habits don't creep in and will help you focus on why it's important to protect success strategies when you might be tempted to compromise your best practice if you think it will save you time. Short cuts are all very well but they often lead to compromised efficiency if left unchallenged in the medium term and will cost you time in the long term.
4. When you’re in the habit of reviewing progress regularly, make it more regular
When it comes to making positive lifestyle behaviour change, there’s no better inspiration than the book Triggers: sparking positive change and making it last by Marshall Goldsmith. He encourages daily, and in some cases hourly checks on how you’re progressing with the changes that you’ve highlighted to be important to you.
It’s a brilliant technique that keeps you focused and removes the option to blame your surroundings or other people every time you fail to take decisive action in your quest to live a life of balance.
5. Take breaks and do something different
It happens too often that we spend longer on a task or in a meeting than is beneficial. You all know about the energy rhythms of the body so remember to tap into this knowledge and focus your effort in short, effective bursts.
Focus on a task, add value and when you feel your energy wane, move on. When you take a break, shift your focus to something else – another task or something non-work related to clear your head.
Don’t worry that you risk leaving any task unfinished. If there’s more to be done you can refocus back onto a task again when your mind is refreshed. Operate this way and over the course of a few hours you’ll achieve much more.
6. Have something better to do
It’s become clear that for many people, the increasing demands of work have squeezed out many elements of the ‘life’ part of work-life balance. For most of us the lines between the two spheres have become increasingly blurred, but one thing we must all remain vigilant about is that unless you have other things going on in your life that you really care about, there’s a danger that work can expand to steal all available time.
To prevent this, make a list now of all the people, activities, hobbies and interests that you hold dear and establish how regularly these people / things need to feature in your life to keep you happy. Then organise and delegate your workload in a way that’s acceptable to you and your priorities for balance in the long-term. It’s fine if the balance isn’t perfect some of the time, what matters most is that over the course of months or years, you never stray too far from where you’d like to be.
7. Be a role model in this area
Would you want your team and business to be full of people who are frustrated by the lack of balance in their life? Of course not. You’d be worried that they can’t bring their best self to the business if they’re distracted by this frustration.
So make sure you lead by example when it comes to living a life of balance. Others will follow and very soon you’ll have an office full of people achieving more with a smile on their face.
8. Get to bed on time
We’ll finish this post as we began, with some good old-fashioned basic lifestyle advice. In the same way as you can’t perform with little of no fuel, you can’t excel with poor or irregular sleep. You know the drill by now – decide on a bedtime and a wake time and plan for 4-5 x 90-minute sleep cycles in-between. It’s simple but so often overlooked.