Posted by: Arjun Aiyar | April 6, 2009

Practical Steps to Achieve Work Life Balance

(This article written by Arjun Aiyar, trainer and coach, featured in the Mumbai Midday – Aug 13, 2008)

  

Numerous stories are told about people who achieved massive financial and career success and ended up with either health or family crises or both. As the old adage says, ‘We spend our youth pursuing wealth by sacrificing all our health. Later in life, we spend all our wealth to try and gain back our health’. This is becoming ever so common in the work place today. I’ll bet we all know (or know of) at least one person who has suffered a stroke on or before his early forty’s. Life in the fast lane continues to get faster. When we look around, all the slow lanes seem to have vanished – or have they?  

 

There is a silver lining to this dark and gloomy cloud. The fact is that there are people who do manage to strike that balance between their work and personal life while still giving due importance to each category. These people have achieved the much coveted state of ‘Work – Life balance. Let’s learn from what these people do –

 

  1. Don’t look for a quick fix. Attaining work – life balance is not like cooking instant noodles – it does not happen in two minutes. Like everything else that’s worth while, it’s a process. It takes time, effort and consistency.
  2. Giving time to family, health, friends, hobbies, etc is just a question of prioritizing. We never complain that there was no time to brush our teeth or have a bath in the morning (I hope not!) do we? Thus, it’s never a question of not having the time, instead it’s always a matter of making the time. Your priorities determine your success.
  3. Avoid time wasters. Time management is one of the keys to good balance. Examples of time wasters are negative gossip sessions, TV, reading trash, etc. Successful people have the emotional strength to say ‘No’ to activities and people that drain their time and life. Doug Wead, a world renowned author, political strategist and motivational speaker says, ‘I don’t know the secret of success, but the secret of failure is trying to please everyone’. This leads to the next point.
  4. Manage your attitude and energy. The IT industry well understands the term GIGO – Garbage In Garbage Out. We appreciate that frequently eating junk food weakens our bodies and lowers our energy levels. The mind is no different. Regular ‘brain health food’ in the form of positive books, cd’s, etc will develop an efficient and balanced mind. I know people who use non productive time (travelling to and from work) to read and listen to quality material. It’s much better than talking on the phone and believe me, when the inputs are positive, you remain motivated enough to not fall asleep. Needless to say, excessive smoking and alcohol use also hamper your efforts to attain work life balance. So, kill your bad habits before they kill you.
  5.  Manage your problems. My mentor taught me that the only people who do not have problems are people who are dead. So, if you are alive, you will have problems. One of the best ways of not being bogged down by adversity is to develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’. Make a list of all the things that you are grateful for – the food you ate today, the roof over your head, the few people who care about you, etc. Know that there are millions in this country and around the world – who don’t have even half of what you have. Now, that makes you feel better doesn’t it? And the final point is –
  6. Be happy. Happiness is a less a product of your external circumstances and more an outcome of your thinking. It is a choice. True joy comes from within and not without. Learn to find joy in everything including adversity. The real goal is not work – life balance. The real goal is happiness. Work life balance is just a tool to help you achieve joy and happiness in your life. Do things that bring that joy into your life – whether it’s watching a movie or talking to a friend or eating a sandwich – different strokes for different folks.

 So, how do we know that we are on track? Is there a score board that can tell you when you’re going astray?

 

Here’s a simple, yet effective system. At the end of every week, ask yourself how you fared in the following SIX areas. Did you give at least some time to each of these areas listed below?

 

1.      Career / Financial – Easiest to do, just make sure that you contribute to your organization and add value to their business.

2.      Home / Relationships – Do something to put a smile on at least one person in your home.

3.      Social – A quality conversation with a friend without any hidden agenda.

4.      Physical – Some exercise. Experts suggest that 15 minutes of ‘vigorous movement’ is superior to one hour of hanging out at the gym.

5.      Mental – Read at least a portion of a self help book.

6.      Spiritual – Whatever your religion, do something to connect with your higher self and the forces of the universe.

 

Give yourself a score of ONE, if you did it and ZERO if you didn’t.

 

For the first few weeks, just add up your total and see how you fared.

 

Over time and as you get better – don’t add but multiply the score. Thus, even one zero will give you a total count of zero! Only having all ones, will give you a ONE – and trust me that score is sufficient to categorize you as a balanced individual.

 

(Arjun Aiyar is a corporate trainer, executive coach and motivational speaker based in Dubai. He has two training companies – one in India and the other in the UAE. His organizations cater to corporates and individuals by providing training and coaching in soft skills and behavioural areas. Learn more about Arjun’s business on www.stepupuae.com or www.thinqdynamiq.com)

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Responses

  1. Hey Arjun

    Great article, got to learn a lot from it. Thanks for the scoring board, I need to try this to be able to calculate how well I am doing with my Work Life Balance…How are things going on with you? Lets catch up soon…

  2. You are so interesting! I don’t suppose I’ve read through something like that before.

    So great to find another person with a few original thoughts on this subject.
    Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is something that is required on the web, someone
    with some originality!streetdirectory

    • Thanks for your kind words. Wonderful to connect with you. Do link with me on Facebook / Linkedin. Have a super weekend. Cheers, Arjun Aiyar


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