Thursday, January 26, 2012

Balancing Work and Life: Rise and Shine

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man (and woman!) healthy, wealthy and wise.  You’ve heard the saying – and let’s add “balanced” to that list of benefits. Personally, I’m a morning person – I find it the perfect time to meditate and exercise, preparing me for a calmer, more balanced day.

While I understand we’re not all morning people, there are many positives to waking up earlier, including improving your work-life balance. Why? Peter Shankman summed it up in a recent post called Why You NEED To Get Up Earlier (And How To Do It!). Here are Peter’s top 10 reasons to get up early every day – which I agree with 100 percent:

10) Daily dose of information. Take ten minutes to read your favorite websites or newspaper so you know all the relevant current events for the day. Why do it before you get your day started? You can read several websites without being interrupted by emails or calls.

9) Make the mornings about you. With minimal distractions happening this early, it’s one of the only times in the day to focus on yourself. Make some coffee, play with your pets or do yoga to set the tone of calm and balance for the day.

8) Appreciate the little things. You might see the sun set every day, but how often do you wake up early enough to appreciate a sunrise? It’s amazing how something as simple as watching the sun rise can help to put life into perspective.

7) You’re not running late! The “rush” and anxiety of running late in the morning can follow you all day long. Getting up earlier ensures you are on time and calmer once you get to work. Peter also mentions that “studies have shown that being on time is one thing that good leaders master, as well as demand.” Is your boss always on time? Impress them by doing the same.

6) Eat breakfast. Oh yes, that often forgotten but oh-so-important first meal of the day. As a helpful reminder, be sure to set out the bowl, spoon and cereal at night.

5) Move it! Waking up earlier means you get the park or treadmill all to yourself. When most people hit the gym around 6:30 a.m., you can be there to claim your space well before then.

4) A more enjoyable drive to work. Isn’t this enough reason to get up earlier? Hit the road before everyone else does and you’ll be much calmer throughout the day. Notice a pattern yet?

3) Greet the day like a power player. Want to know why CEOs and other leaders are so successful? One key secret is 7 a.m. breakfasts. They have important meetings with influential people over coffee and eggs because they get up earlier than everyone else.

2) “Spare time” activity. Wish you could update your blog more? Organize emails? Play piano? Do these activities early in the morning when you normally would be sleeping.

1) Do something important. Peter says the number one reason to get up early is to take 30 minutes to change the world. Getting up early can make a difference in your life for all the above reasons. Imagine just doing a few of these things. How much more productive would you feel each day?

While there are many benefits to waking up early, including finding that all-important balance - in the next post, we’ll talk about something that may be a little tougher to conquer: HOW to wake up earlier.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Year's Resolutions: Practicing Balance Every Day

Happy New Year! A new year means new resolutions. For many of us, this might mean working out more, losing weight or saving money. Finding work-life balance may not be as common a resolution as losing weight, but it can have the same impact. What’s the real reason for finding balance? Feel better? Reduce stress? Be healthier? All of the above? But similar to many other resolutions, it can be easy to start – and too easy to stop.

The idea of initiating goals for the year on January 1 is absolutely reasonable – but only revisiting your life goals and priorities once a year is unreasonable. Instead, take time to revisit them on a regular – even daily – basis throughout the year, especially when there are major life events in the road ahead.  

For example, rather than setting a general goal of “finding balance” that may feel overwhelming, try asking “what is something small I can do each day to achieve balance in my life?” Whether it’s finding 30 minutes for yourself each day or leaving work at the office at the end of the day, these small, daily steps provide positive reinforcement as you work toward the ultimate goal. This maintains motivation because you’re achieving something every day.

By assessing and working toward your goals, including balancing work and life, on a regular or even daily basis, you can set attainable targets and be proud of all the things you’ve accomplished in the last year.