How to Find Balance
Work, kids, spouses, activities - it's hard to find some sort of work and life balance, but here are a few ways to help you out.
Write it All Down
Whether that means buying a planner, a digital assistant or writing an old fashioned to do list, make a comprehensive list of everything you need to accomplish, people you need to call and emails you need to return. Have some sort of planning system that you can look at so nothing slips through the cracks. I have a list of things that need to get done every day at work and designated tasks that I do when I get home from work every day. I try to make dinner right away when I get home and then stick it in the fridge, that way, I know at 4:30 or in between other tasks, I can just pop it in the oven and go back to what I was doing.
Make a Schedule
Making a to do list is a good start, but if you don't have a time set to do all of those things, it's easy to let things slide. So, when you're making out your to do list, put a scheduled time next to the item and also add an approximate amount of time needed to do it. If returning phone calls and emails is one thing you do as soon as you grab your coffee and sit down at your desk, mark off 8 to 9 to return calls and emails. If typing up a sales proposal is going to take 30 minutes, mark yourself busy from 10 to 10:30. If you know that you have a conference call scheduled for 2pm and it's going to take an hour, block off one hour of your time. When you write down the time, stick to it. A lot of people (myself included) find they work best on some sort of deadline. It almost forces you to stay on task. Sometimes we need that.
If you have tasks that require similar skills, try and do them around the same time. If you're answering emails and phone calls, you're already in front of your computer and your phone, so switching into typing mode for the sales projection shouldn't be a problem. If you group similar tasks together, it maximizes your productivity and minimizes time lost when you're switching gears. I do this a lot when I'm doing laundry. When you're waiting in between loads, I also vacuum the bedrooms and change the linens. Everything is on the second floor, so I'm not stopping what I'm doing and running up and down the stairs. When the vacuuming is done, I watch TV and switch loads during commercials. That's my reward.
If you know there are certain things that you need to get done by Friday and it's a big project, make sure that you dedicate a certain amount of time to it every day, so you don't shoot your whole Thursday. Also, if you plan tomorrow today, hopefully you'll find that you get more done and you'll reduce your stress levels. It also helps when that last minute fly in the ointment shows up. You'll have better time management skills and will be able to deal with it more efficiently. Also, try and spend the last 15 minutes of your day taking a look at what you need to do the next day so you aren't laying in bed thinking about it.