Work-Life Balance Tip From My Dog

Have you ever had goals that seemed to conflict with one another and throw off your work-life balance?  I faced that situation earlier this week.

I really wanted to go to the health club to exercise.  I had been on a business trip over the last week and didn’t make the time to exercise much at all during the trip. I knew I needed to get back into exercising ASAP.

But our family’s dog demanded my attention.  My wife and kids had been gone all day, and the dog wanted me to play and rough-house with her.  I knew I ought to spend some time with her, since she’d been cooped up all day. But I knew I needed to exercise too.

Then I had a thought:  Instead of running on the track or treadmill at the health club, why not take the dog for a run outside?  I’d get the exercise I wanted, and she’d get some exercise and play with me at the same time.

So I did it.  I “killed two birds with one stone,” so to speak.  That sounds kind of violent, but I don’t know what else to call it.

It’s not multi-tasking, where you attempt to do multiple tasks at the same time.  This is different, because I only did one task but accomplished multiple goals at the same time.

Whatever  I call it, I realized this could be big and give me a multiplier effect.  Working on multiple goals with just one action could really add up and help me move farther, faster, toward my goals and dreams, and help me maintain balance in my life.

I’m starting to think about other goals that could be combined in one action.  Which ones do you think could work for you?

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How to Save Time, Reduce Stress, and Improve Your Work Life Balance

Marc and Angel Hack Life recently shared a list of 30 ways to save 30 minutes a day.  Their entire list of time saving ideas is great from a productivity perspective, but I noticed that some can also reduce stress and increase our sense of work-life balance:

#3 – Eliminate all distractions for a set time
#4 – Narrow the number of ventures you’re involved in
#5 – Plan ahead and start early (I definitely need to do more of this)
#6 – Organize your space (And this one)
#12 – Don’t mindlessly browse online ad infinitum
#15 – Write things down
#17 – Stop overanalyzing things (Yep, good reminder for me)
#22 – Just Say No!
#23 – Focus your attention on just one thing at a time (As I grow older, I’m finding that I’d rather focus on one thing than multitask on many things at the same time.) [Read more…]

Can Time-Tagging Your To-Do List Help You Increase Productivity?

to do listI’m always on the look-out for time management tips to help me improve my personal productivity. I recently heard about a concept called “time-tagging” from Jack Cheng, and I’ve decided to give it a try this week.

Time-tagging seems like a simple concept. When you make your to-do list for the day or week, put a time-tag next to each item on the list, noting the approximate length of time you think it will take to accomplish the task. [Read more…]

Can E-mail Addiction Keep You From Achieving Your Goals?

If you're che

Don't let e-mail addiction ruin your productivity.

Earlier this week, in a mentoring group I belong to, we talked about the power that e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other such communication tools can have over people.

I think everyone in the group knew someone who was, or admitted that they themselves were, addicted to checking their email, etc. every 5 minutes or so, either on their computer or smartphone.

I just did some quick addition, and was shocked to see how this adds up:

If you check your e-mail every 5 minutes when you’re at work, then you are checking it 12 times an hour. Multiply 12 times an hour by 8 hours per work day, 5 days a week, and 50 weeks a year (uh, that’s assuming you don’t check your e-mail when you’re on vacation). This adds up to 24,000 times per year!

Now, if you work in customer service, then checking your email frequently is an important part of your job.

But for most of us, if we’re checking our e-mail 24,000 times a year, we are probably sacrificing something somewhere, don’t you think?

For me, if I check email, Facebook or Twitter frequently at the office, I lose focus pretty quickly on the task at hand. I end up getting sucked into conversations, start looking at other links and sites that people recommend.  And all of a sudden, the day is done and I haven’t accomplished all that I had planned to.

At home, if I’m not careful, I could spend so much time connecting with others online that I neglect my family sitting in the same room.

What about you, could e-mail addiction keep you from being productive, achieving your goals and living the life you want?

Four Ways to Keep E-mail from Dominating Your Life

Here are four things you can do to maintain balance and keep e-mail from dominating your life:

  1. Track Your E-mail Time Usage – If you’re not sure if e-mail addiction is a problem for you, you may be in denial. Just kidding! You can know for sure by tracking how you spend your time for a week using a time tracking tool.  Lifehacker did a review of some of the best time tracking applications, including Klok, Manic Time, SlimTime, Rescue Time, and Project Hamster.
  2. Schedule time for e-mail – At the office, try checking email only once an hour and see how that goes for you.  Or maybe just three times a day – first thing in the morning, before or after lunch, and mid-late afternoon.  If you think you might forget to check it (personally, I know I would not forget) you can set an alarm to remind you when it is time.
  3. Handle each e-mail only once – We can save time and be more productive if we handle each e-mail only once, instead of letting it sit in our in-box for action or a response at later time.
  4. Unsubscribe from lists and e-newsletters that you rarely read anymore or that don’t add value to your life.

Has anyone else struggled with e-mail addiction…and do you have any other tips or suggestions?  Please share them in the Comments below.

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How to Balance Your Time – Restful and Relaxing

This is part seven of a series on How to Balance Your Time, where we’re looking at the six key types of time we all need in our lives if we are to maintain proper work-life balance:

  • Creative and productive
  • Physically energetic and active
  • Playful and entertaining
  • Learning and developing
  • Reflective and spiritual
  • Restful and relaxing

Today we’ll take a closer look at the sixth and last type of time:  restful and relaxing.

This category overlaps a bit with the third one – playful and entertaining.  The difference is that the “restful and relaxing” category knocks the energy level down another notch or two from the “playful and entertaining” category.  To rest and relax means to not just give our mind a diversion, but to give it a break.

All of us make some time for rest when we go to sleep (though not everyone gets enough sleep that they need).  But we don’t often make time for other types of rest throughout our week.  I’m not just talking about napping, though there are tremendous benefits of taking a 20-minute power nap in the mid-afternoon.  Other restful and relaxing activities include:

  • Reading
  • Meditation
  • Daydreaming (one of my personal favorites)
  • Watching TV
  • Long showers or bubble baths or massages.
  • Other quiet hobbies or activities

I’ve found it hard to make time for rest at times in my life, because it seems so “unproductive”.  And yet, I’ve realized that that’s the point!

I’m learning that I need “down time” – time just to relax and do something mindless – something that requires no thinking or decision making on my part.

One thing that has helped is that our family has decided to set aside one day each week for rest and relaxation.  What do you do to make time for rest and relaxation in your life?

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How to Balance Your Time – Reflective and Spiritual

This is part six of a series on How to Balance Your Time, where we’re looking at the six key types of time we all need in our lives if we are to maintain work-life balance:

* Creative and productive
* Physically energetic and active
* Playful and entertaining
* Learning and developing
* Reflective and spiritual
* Restful and relaxing

Today we’ll take a closer look at the fifth type of time:  reflective and spiritual.

I’ve said here before that I believe all of us are spiritual beings and have some sort of moral compass to guide us, whether or not we recognize it or consider ourselves to be “religious”.

I write about Spirituality, Faith and Ethics on Sundays because I have observed that many people tend to neglect the spiritual aspect of their lives.  I certainly have at different times.  Why?  Because it requires that we take a deep look within, and personally, I’m often afraid to see what’s lurking there!

I think one of the best things people can do is to make time for reflection – to take a good look inside themselves to assess how well they lived over the last week or month in accordance with their values and beliefs.

For me, this exercise gives me a greater sense of perspective, helps me align my habits and actions with my stated values and beliefs, and helps me on my journey to live up to my full potential in all areas of life, including the spiritual area.

Here are some other practices that can help you nurture your spiritual life:

Solitude – Make time to get away from it all and just enjoy some quiet reflection and prayer.  It could be just a few moments of quiet in your home or office, a long walk or hike, or something else.

Gratitude – There is something spiritual about showing gratitude for the blessings we’ve received.  I think one reason it is powerful is because it is an expression of our dependence on God and others.

Prayer – Over the years, I’ve read lots of articles about the power of prayer, based on people’s experiences.  Prayers can be as brief and simple as the words “help me”, or they can be longer times of connection to God at a deeper level.  Prayers can be said throughout the day or at specific times of day.

Meditation & Scripture Memorization – Read the Bible or other sacred or inspirational text, and meditate on, or even memorize, certain passages.

Accountability Partner, Spiritual Friend or Mentor – Sometimes we all need the guidance and support of others to help us grow.  Many people find that having an accountability partner has made a difference for them – not just in their spiritual growth – but in all areas of life.  An accountability partner is someone who holds you lovingly accountable for the goals you’ve said you wanted to accomplish and the changes you wanted to make.  A spiritual friend or mentor is someone who specifically guides you in the spiritual (and other related) aspects of your life.

Small Group – This is similar to the one above, but it involves a group instead of a one-to-one relationship.

Weekly worship gathering – Many people find their spiritual life grows when they connect to a local church or other house of worship for regular worship services or experiences.

What are some of the ways you nurture your spiritual life?  Please share your thoughts and ideas!