Five Steps To Improve Your Work Life Balance Today

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For young people wanting to get a career started and to work their way up in a business, or even start a business of their own, then it can be pretty full on. Even if you never intended it to be that way; the work and life balance can be pretty elusive and hard to master. So if you feel like work seems to take over your life, then here are some ways to make sure that it doesn’t. Even if you like your job, having some time out can be just what you need to refresh and to be able to do your job better.

Schedule In Downtime

Being an entrepreneur can mean that you live, sleep, and breathe your business. So as silly as it sounds, you do need to schedule in downtime. Time to just do something that you enjoy, other than your business, so that you can relax a little. It doesn’t mean that your business is suddenly going to stop running because you decide to take a day off. But what it does mean is that you are going to be refreshed and ready to start again when you’re back to work.

Outsource Work

There are going to be some tasks that are necessary to be done. But the thing is, they don’t need to be done by you. Repetitive tasks like admin, emails, and payroll could all be outsourced to other people. Have you got an assistant or a virtual assistant that could do those kinds of thing for you? These tasks can sap your energy and will always be on the to-do list, so give them to someone else to do.

Create a Safe Work Environment

Nothing says ‘time off’ like having an accident at work. So in order to make sure that you’re not having to take off any unnecessary days off work, creating a safe and healthy place to work is important. From a well-ventilated space, to having the right equipment like PPE or even ladder safety gates are all part and parcel of keeping you safe at work. Your business and work life balance can get completely thrown out as the result of an injury or major illness.

Keep Yourself Healthy

Along the same lines, it is important to keep yourself healthy and looked after. If you feel stressed or weak, you’re much more likely to get ill and need time off. And it’s not even the good kind of time off when you’re sick in bed. So exercise, eat well, and keep hydrated. Make sure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals that you need to help you stay healthy and well.

Make Working Time More Productive

If you have two hours to get a task at work done, then you need to make sure that you’re making those two hours as productive as you can. Otherwise it will eat into your personal time. So focus. Turn off distractions like TV or cell phones. Being more productive in the time you have will make your work life balance much better.

What’s At The Core Of A Micromanager?

If you work under a micromanager (most do) it’s a matter of time before you leave your job.

But in order to cope and make the best of your current situation, it’s helpful to understand what makes a micromanager tick. To help lengthen your present tenure learning to manage your boss is key.

Micromanagers rarely ever change, but knowing how to deal with them provides some daily sanity.

Micromanagers have trust issues. Requesting autonomy from them as an employee is purely a nuisance. Micromanagers view freedom as a threat. Releasing power is a micromanager’s kryptonite. They want to know, communicate and oversee everything. Don’t expect praise, support or early information. Micromanagers view that as weak.

If you view micromanagers as bulldozers it’s because they are. Micromanagers see people as the vehicle to accomplish their tasks. If you’ve ever felt “talked-down to” or with a condescending tone that’s the voice of a micromanager. Remove them from formal conversations at work and their lack of social skills are evident. Position is said to be weakest form of leadership and in social situations micromanagers feel inadequate. Micromanagers overcompensate so heavily in the areas they feel competent in it’s glaring. Micromanagers will never be referred to as leaders, only as your boss.

Chances are your micromanager’s life is work. It’s their identity. They scoff at work-life balance because they see no need for it. Some will ask occasionally how you are doing, but they get uncomfortable talking about their own personal life since it’s basically non-existent. Who has time for hobbies, family, friends or fun when you’re working 80 hours a week? Usually micromanagers will hound you for staying on top of things, while they’re quite disorganized in their role. Do as I say, not as I do – that’s classic micromanager talk. It’s hard for micromanagers to show empathy because they don’t value it. Work comes first, second and third in terms of priorities.

Being under a micromanager feels like you’re walking on egg shells. Every time there’s an interaction, request or meeting you anticipate critical feedback (because it usually happens). Micromanagers have serious control issues. Don’t expect to grow or develop under their rule. Any hint of development is seen as a threat. Micromanagers are stingy with their praise because it signals a chance you might overtake their position. Micromanagers remind you frequently who’s in charge and crush your soul while they’re at it. Surround yourself with a strong support system to vent to or else you’ll go crazy.

At the core of micromanagers lie deep insecurities. Secure leaders don’t have to stomp on others to feel good about themselves. Even when something’s not your fault, they’ll still find a way to place the blame on you. One indicator of a true micromanager is the absence of apologies. They are quick to point fingers, but don’t take responsibility when they screw up. Leaders set their people up to succeed, micromanagers set their people up to fail. The unfortunate part of micromanagers is they are rarely equipped for the role. Most managers are vaulted into the position because of technical prowess or seniority. Little do they know what got you here won’t help you as a manager. Instead of trying to learn a different skill set, micromanagers choose the path of least resistance: do it my way or take the highway.

Micromanagement isn’t a disease, but a choice. And a choice you have to make is how long will you put up with it before leaving.

The Forgotten Part Of Networking

friends-at-work

Your network is your net worth.

The assumption is networking is done “externally,” but what if you actually like your job and don’t want to leave, yet desire to expand your network?

Do it internally.

Similar to sales: return customers have a greater value than new customers.

That means co-workers you connect with and strengthen bonds over time can be more instrumental to your career success than grabbing coffee with a new contact on LinkedIn.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m that guy who connects with people locally on LinkedIn and grabs coffee, but those relationships take time to blossom.

Meanwhile your work relationships have the potential to grow much faster because of the frequency and ease of scheduling.

Too often job satisfaction is determined by what happens to you, not what you initiate. Some opportunities are all about timing, but others are about choice.

Once you understand the company culture figure out how you can connect with people at work: grab lunch, go for a walk, chat on Slack, etc.

Most likely there are too many people at your company to talk with consistently, but that only makes the challenge fun.

  • Be the person who asks others how they are doing.
  • Instead of going on break alone take a friend.
  • Make it a goal to grab lunch with someone weekly.

At my company we’re fortunate to have catered lunches twice a week so that leaves three open days for me.

Some days I make phone calls and other times I need to decompress alone, but imagine how fulfilling your day is with a stimulating conversation!

As an introvert/situational extrovert I prefer quality over quantity…

Making networking part of your lifestyle versus a goal starts by doing it consistently.

The trick isn’t to keep “score” on how many people are in your network, but how often you network with others.

Make it a habit and watch your work fulfillment level skyrocket!

The X-Factor For Employee Retention

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I admit I believe in work-life separation, but even an old dog can learn new tricks.

Being a corporate newbie (former FT entrepreneur) I can relate to that Scrubs episode where Dr. Kelso stepped one foot out the hospital and started whistling like he had no cares in the world.

Am I heartless? Far from it. But as I moonlighted as a contractor I walked into companies as a hired gun. I enjoyed getting to know people, but subconsciously I never mixed business with personal. It’s my way of keeping boundaries.

But now being an employee I’m starting to see things differently. I’ll never be that guy who grabs a drink after work with co-workers for 2 reasons: 1) I want to see my kids and wife as soon as work is over 2) I don’t drink. It’s not something I’m against, more so a different time in my life.

Yet what’s changed for me in the past month or so is my view towards friends at work. I’m completely fine with putting my head down, banging my work out and leaving unnoticed. But something happened along the way…

My role at work is to support our employees (online tutors). It happens over Zoom (video conferencing) weekly. Ironically I wasn’t taking the same approach to work relationships, but my shift in behavior has made me re-think work.

Maybe it’s the remote environment of the company I work for, but outside of compensation who you connect with at work is the X-factor of retention. This is a quality, not quantity issue. You can bond over work projects, but the natural foundation of a true friendship is built over common interests and reciprocity. Effort alone guarantees nothing, but without it you’ll get nowhere. The interest has to be mutual.

Honestly I’ll never be that guy who calls his work friends his best friends, but knowing there are more than a handful of people at my company I am interested in connecting with outside of work is a huge step in the right direction for me.

So where do you fall on the friends at work spectrum?

Why You Shouldn’t Set New Year’s Resolutions

new-years-resolutions

With the start of a new year, resolutions come to mind, but come mid-January (or February at the latest) you’ve already broken your promise. Why is that?

Resolutions, similar to goals, are set up to fail from the start. Here’s why:

The main reason why accomplishing your goals have such a low success rate is because even the best effort doesn’t result in perfection. This isn’t a scapegoat for not trying, but rather working the odds in your favor.

New Year’s Resolutions can be compared to starting a new business. The failure rate within the first 3 years is 80%. Now 3 years is longer than one month, but the concept is the same. Resiliency and patience are hard to come by. Call it a result of our fast-paced society, but we suck at waiting for results.

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, but making behavior changes is hard work.

If you’ve ever set a goal and failed at it, you remember the feeling. You’ll do whatever you can to not revisit that feeling because its debilitating. Hence the reason why we avoid goal setting in the first place.

Instead shift your focus to creating good habits. Not only are habits better than goals, but they are process-oriented meaning progress is the desired outcome not perfection.

For example: losing 20 pounds is a goal while living a healthy lifestyle is a habit. You may lose the weight (doubtful), but chances are you’ll gain it back and then some shortly after. But if you decide to workout 3 times a week (on average) and cut your weekly sugar intake not only will you lose the weight, but it’s a sustainable change because you give yourself grace for special occasions.

It’s popular to set New Year’s Resolutions in January because the calendar is a trigger for fresh starts. Beyond that there’s not a real good reason why then is the best time.

When you want to fix or achieve something following the the right process is almost more important than the desired outcome. At it’s core nothing is wrong with goals, but if you want to set yourself up for success in the new year focus on habits and the results will come in time.

Why Startups Are Overrated

startup-life

Follow your passion. Chase your dreams.

Bad advice depending on your age/life stage.

The startup life is glorified from the outside, but those inside the ropes think differently.

Your corporate 9-5 job may suck the life out of you, but imagine working 40+ hours and getting paid less.

Think the grass is greener on the other side? Try turning grass over. It’s brown.

Similar to entrepreneurship and parenting, everything you see/read/learn doesn’t equate to first-hand experience.

Working for a startup is grueling. Long hours for little pay isn’t for everyone. Age/life stage should be your determining factor.

In your 20’s your career is most important, so working hard for something you believe in takes priority.

In your 30’s relationships (dating/marriage/family) are most important, so working hard to support your desired lifestyle take priority.

In your 40’s planning for retirement is most important, so working hard to secure your future takes priority.

Startups are ideal for people in their 20’s or younger. Fewer responsibilities means less concerns about work life balance.

Once you enter your 30’s boundaries become important. The difference lies in what you do after work: going to the bar with friends vs. going home to see your family.

There’s nothing wrong with chasing the American dream, but the better question to ask is: when are you chasing it?

Why The 40 Hour Work Week Needs To Die (Part 2)

sweden

Have you ever wondered where the 40-hour work week originated?

Henry Ford actually scaled it back from 48 hours back in the early 1900’s.

The fact we have to go back almost 100 years shows how outdated the model is.

Recently Amazon is in the news for enforcing the 30 hour week, at a reduced rate, yet it’s a step in the right direction.

Sweden boasts a 6-hour workday which is based on research that a person is only productive for 6 hours a day anyway.

I’ll take it a step further and propose a four-day, 24 hour work week.

Salaries would decrease, but in the gig economy most people earn additional income from a side hustle. Corporate wellness exists mainly because of the negative repercussions of over-worked, stressed and distracted workers. Reducing the work week to 24 hours would nearly eliminate sick days, burnout and lack of productivity.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, stop upholding tradition and start focusing on results. With the advancements in technology, scaling “human” work stands true also.

Although Millennials are leading the charge, lifestyle matters more than passion. We work to support the type of lifestyle we want to live. The quicker companies embrace that, time spent/off becomes the greatest currency.

In business, we must evaluate our current procedures to see if there is a more efficient way it can be done. Sweden and Amazon are leading the way, the rest of Corporate America needs to catch up.

Keeping Your Millennial Workforce Happy

Guest post by Faith MacAnas

hi-five

One of the key features of the millennial generation is their focus on job satisfaction and life fulfillment is a lot higher than their predecessors. Happier employees have a better and higher quality output; this has made the necessity for employee satisfaction strategies more important than ever. These following examples are just a few areas where adjustments can be made that will motivate your millennial workforce and optimize your business.

• Flexibility

For the first time, young workers are prioritizing their work-life balance over their paycheck. They want to be able to travel, balance their family and social life or pick up side projects. While full remote working conditions are inadvisable, providing some level of flexibility is a great tactic. This offer could come in the form of career breaks or simply the opportunity to work alternate hours from home on occasion.

student-with-mentor-on-computer

    Crisp Technology

Millennials have grown up at the forefront of technology; they have always had the latest editions and expect their technology to be in good working order. Companies that can’t afford the latest pieces now allow staff members to work on their own devices. While this can save money, it does also require ensuring the security of confidential company data on machines that will leave the office. You can guarantee protection by investing in a company-wide Virtual Private Network program for all staff members to use or by creating an internal system where work can be shared exclusively.

    Career Paths

Today’s young workers live in a shaky economy, and they know it. While they worry about the promise of work, they also will quickly jump ship if their jobs don’t appear to provide them with the opportunity to progress. Give your millennial workforce a voice; allow them input into innovation ideas and company policy. Ensure feedback channels are open, and offer opportunities for training courses or department transfers. Show that you are willing to invest in them, and they are much more likely to invest in you and your company.

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    Cash Incentives

If all else fails, then there’s one language everyone speaks: cash. Nothing gets motivation going like the promise of a bonus, and there are none who don’t relish the opportunity to make more money. However, there are both pros and cons to this strategy. If, for example, you set a goal for workers to achieve to secure the bonus, and they do not succeed, it’s possible to disenfranchise them further. It’s wise to set goals that are both realistic and progressive.

Millenials are some of most forward-thinking workers around today. They naturally possess crucial knowledge and hold to the key to the future. If you haven’t already implemented strategies to ensure you keep them motivated and dedicated, then now is the time to start doing so!

About the Author: Faith is a blogger and marketing and strategy expert. She specializes in internet security. She enjoys sharing what she’s learned with other business owners online.

My Achilles Heel As An Entrepreneur

employee-entrepreneur

5 years ago I tore my left Achilles tendon while playing basketball.

Like the stories I heard before, it felt like someone kicked my calf from behind.

When it happened it didn’t hurt, but I knew something was wrong. I remember grabbing my cars keys and limping to the car. It was a 6 month recovery to get back on the basketball court.

Post-recovery I’ve never been scared of re-injuring myself, but I’ve become much more in tune with my body. If my Achilles feels sore, I don’t push my body. I listen to it.

As an entrepreneur, I have a Achilles heel too.

Leaders create a “wake” of relationships built and tasks accomplished. What I realized is the one that means more to me determines the trajectory of my career.

I’ve had my business for almost 10 years now experiencing ups and downs financially. Starting out I was willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. It was my own startup that I was willing to work overtime for and be underpaid purely to build my “brand.”

But being married and 2 kids later my priorities changed. Time became the most important currency and I’d rather spend time with my family than always work hard. In work-life balance terms, I want a separation between the two.

I always believed working a full-time corporate job meant waving the white flag…settling. I did everything I could to avoid it, until about a month ago.

Reluctantly, I took a position at a tech startup because there was “no good reason not to.” Not exactly inspiring stuff, but the truth.

Fast forward to now, I realize it was the right decision.

The side of the wake that matters more to me is: relationships. If it were tasks, I believe I’d never take my current position because I would have already been rich.

What I realized is money is more important than people. Some say that, but my actions validate it.

The thought of a 9-6 was nauseating even a few months ago, but I started listening to my heart.

Not only am I enjoying the work I do (similar to the coaching I’ve been doing), but once I leave the office I leave my work there. That’s something I could never do as a business owner.

Do I still coach? Yes. But around my full-time job.

My Achilles heel as an entrepreneur is my love for connection. It’s much stronger than my desire to sell.

I still love to dream up and implement new ideas, but not at the cost of a steady paycheck and allowing my wife to stay at home with our kids.

I haven’t given up on entrepreneurship.

I just became more in tune with my desired lifestyle.

Work Life Balance Simplified To One Word

boundaries-sand

Boundaries.

The only way to separate your personal from professional life is to define your boundaries.

Boundaries are hard to identify until someone crosses them.

The reason work-life feels like a blur is because you allow it.

As an employee it’s a constant tug-of-war with management. You have to draw a line between what they want and what they can legally expect of you.

If you’re an entrepreneur, no paycheck is guaranteed so you have to hustle more, but at what expense? Ask most business owners why they started their own company and most would answer with reasons other than money. But as your own boss, if you don’t draw the line, your boundaries will be abused.

Start defining what’s inside and outside of your boundaries. Stand up for what matters and what’s right.

In the end you have no one else to blame for work-life balance: except you.