Work-Life Balance

My 14-year-old son asked me today about work-life balance. He wanted to know how to achieve it and get better at it. I think he believes I got this figured out, but the truth is that for me, this is an ongoing process. If you don’t balance your job or school priorities and your personal priorities, one of them will be negatively affected, resulting in frustration and possibly burnout.

I told my son that the goal is to learn to prioritize his personal and school tasks. Prioritization and focus are key. Here are a couple of things that have worked for me:

  • Focus on doing the challenging tasks first, even if you don’t want to or enjoy them. Completing the challenging tasks first will give you a sense of accomplishment and will reduce stress.
  • Split larger tasks into smaller, digestible tasks.
  • Focus on one task as much as possible. Avoid multitasking.
  • Allocate a fixed amount of time to an activity (Timeboxing), and don’t cheat. You can use the Pomodoro technique or similar to help you accomplish this.
  • Separate your work and personal environment. You can do this by working in a different place in your home, going to a coffee shop for work, etc.
  • Assess how you spent your day, week, month. This will help you determine how much time you spent doing tasks unrelated to work, school, or personal life. For example, most people spend a lot of time streaming tv shows, movies, social media, etc. And then question why they don’t have enough time to accomplish their goals, large and small.

Work-life balance is not easy. This is why there are so many books and techniques to help you accomplish this. It’s all about time management and self-awareness. It’s easy to spend time on things that are not our priorities, but we do it because it’s easy or entertaining.

Make sure to always leave enough time in your day to talk to friends, family, practice music, read, exercise, or whatever else fulfills you and helps you grow – no matter how busy you think you are.

Remember this: work and school are important, but we do both of those things to have a better life. Prioritize your personal life, always.

Be the person where the problems die, be the finisher and people will notice you

Many people often ask and wonder how or why they don’t get promoted, or even noticed at their jobs. Here is some advice I got from a VP of Engineering at a very prominent tech company in Austin, TX:

Be the person where the problems die, be the finisher and people will notice you

While simple this is such great advice, it basically tells you that if you want to be noticed and advance in your career, you need to take ownership and get things done, that’s it. This is very interesting because even when we think we are great executors and sometimes even brag about how much we get done, the truth is that only a few people really take ownership and full responsibility when given a task or a problem to solve.

take ownership and get promoted

 

If your manager is able to hand you a problem and you have the capacity and tenacity of figuring out the problem and complete the task, you’ll probably be a clear candidate to promote and give more responsibility when the time comes because your manager will know you can get the job done. In other words, they know you are a finisher, problems die when they come to you, you are trustworthy and naturally they’ll be willing to give you more responsibility.

Remember, it is not so much about office politics or friendships, it is about getting things done and have an impact because that will look good on you, your boss and your company.