By Joe Caplin
“There is no such thing as work-life balance, everything worth fighting for unbalances your life”
Alain de Boton
Making time for things is hard. We have so many equally important problems: passions, deadlines and dreams to attend to; how do we fit it all in? In what order of importance? Work is important. Family’s important. Relaxation is important. In light of this competitive importance, finding time to: Listen to music; look after your loved ones; meet your deadlines; read challenging books; exercise regularly; spend time with friends; schedule regular reflection time; read up on your idols; plan your week; get ahead of your emails; inspire your colleagues; did I mention exercise? Practice your passion; decide on your dreams and every now and then have a second just to do nothing and relax… seems impossible. Honestly even writing that list was stressful.
But, if we scour the minefield of knowledge, advice, opinion and rubbish that comprises the internet we find, as always, that good, solid lessons can be learned. You don’t have time to do that; I mean did you see that list? You’re very very busy; but luckily we weren’t doing much, so we looked for you. Here’s what we found:
“You have to calendar time for yourself even if you have no idea what you’re going to do with it”
Everyone who writes on the subject seems to agree on the importance of scheduling real time for yourself in your work diary or calendar; treat it as a priority, because it is. Time spent reflecting on your own life and working positively towards a personal goal can be the most effective use of your time possible, because:
“The best investment you can make is in yourself”
But in order to have the time to make the time for ourselves, we have to first have the time, obviously. This means that the things we have to do have to be done efficiently. To this end Kevin Daum gives us some pointers on how to be more efficient; telling us that multitasking is a lie; and that in fact if we focus on one thing at a time, we’re more likely to be able to concentrate on it to produce a greater efficiency of work. He also, like everyone, talks about the importance of consciously delegating tasks where possible; something we all need to be better at.
“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”
John C. Maxwell
Once we’ve delegated, prioritised and stopped multitasking to create a sliver of time, how do we protect it? Put it in your diary, so says Tania Ngima. She also talks about the importance of being ruthless in your fight for spaces you can reserve for yourself; saying:
‘For one week, keep track of what you are doing every 30 minutes and record it…do it on a real time basis. You will identify where you are not making the most effective use of your day’
This calendarisation and tracking of your personal time is something which applies equally well to the tasks you have to do, as to the defence of the things you want to do. Kevin Kruse talks about the importance of using a calendar, rather than a to-do list. The uber-effective use a calendar so they know exactly what they’re doing, when, and how long it will take. They use a calendar and they stick to it. This point is furthered by Daniel Markovitz saying that to-do lists give us a paradox of choice and wastes our time focusing on prioritisation when we should be getting things done.
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
In conclusion, to find the time to do the things you want to do — like have fun — or the the things you know deep down you should do — like investing in yourself — we have both to be more efficient when working to make time; and to defend that time with our lives and our calendars once we’ve found it. If you ever feel that this compartmentalisation of time places more pressure on it, remember this:
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”