In the past, I have had a major issue with the balancing-act of being happy -- while performing well. Okay, sometimes I still do. The professional “balancing-act” individuals in The Greatest Showman didn’t seem to have this problem. Laser-focus, nothing got in their way. Perfection everytime. Well – I kind-of want that to be me – except in two places at once.
There are two sides to my own commitment-performance-area. My wife mentions to me, “you need to be at home more.” But -- and it’s a very big BUT – growth and excitement at work are so amazing that you couldn’t pry me away from the office.
Or, there’s not much going on at work and I’m going to as many dance recitals, and enjoying way too many donuts, more than one dad can (or should) endure. Many of my readers -- who have also become friends -- have mentioned this same quandary. I’m guessing we can all relate to this thing called, “life-work-balance.” So, I’m glad you are with me in this journey of having had similar challenges and experiences.
Last year around this same time of year, I made a goal to focus on the one thing that affects everything – absolutely everything in life -- time.
If you have more time or focus on how you spend it, why you spend it, where you spend it, and what’s important about it – this “time” is going to affect both your work life and home life in an amazing and positive way.
This quest (read: obsession), led me on the path to co-founding Calendar recently. And I’ve learned more than I ever could have about the details of how a determined focus on time can affect every aspect of your life.
Along my journey, here are some of the things that I’ve learned about “time.” I’ve become better grounded in the knowledge of what a dramatic affect time has on everything we undertake to accomplish. I have improved my thoughts on how time should be used.
1. There should be no fight for work-life balance.
I recently read a Business Insider article with Jeff Bezos entitled, “Stop aiming for work-life 'balance' — here's what you should strive for instead.” You can read the article yourself. The main takeaway for me is that if you are in a job that you like or love, then you can blend the two with certain boundaries.
Sometimes my wife needs me during the day, usually just for an hour or two, to help her out with something that’s important. I now make that effort to leave the office so that I can be there for her. At the same time, if there’s a really important deal that I’m finishing or closing, it will have to cut into time with my family.
When we were looking at a feature for overlapping a personal and professional calendar, we couldn’t really find anything out there on the market.
Instead, we created our own solutions within the software. Prior to that, I almost missed two of my daughter’s recitals this year. The reason? I was keeping things of work and home -- so completely separate -- that somebody (okay, I did it), double booked me for a keynote speaking engagement during those times.
If I had missed the recitals, my daughters would have been completely devastated. But, I also didn’t want to bail on the speaking engagements. Those who come to hear me speak and connect with me afterwards have great impact on my life. Yes, conflicts are never easy to resolve.
Since then, I’ve learned that the more I can plan these things as being one life and not separate lives, the better I can be. For each occasion, I am fully present. I am there and fully engaged with my colleagues when they need me and totally devoted to my family when they need me.
2. Become obsessed with time like I have -- not really. Just be very deliberate.
We recently did a survey that will be posted on our blog in the near future. This is a collection of responses about how time has an effect on relationships and happiness.
Some of the most interesting data was that 83 percent of respondents thought that they could do better with important relationships, if they were better at how they spend their time. Another interesting piece of data that I noticed, was that the most important thing that people valued in outside relationships was simply to be deliberate about staying in touch. This meant that even if it was a simple quick message or email just to say “hi,” it was of high importance. Think if this is true for you? It is for me.
One way that I’ve been able to solve both of these issues is by adding to my calendar a way to consistently be reminded to touch base with certain people each quarter. This means that I will connect – even for a moment – with a simple message like saying, “Hey, how have you been?”
I’ve already had several people reach back to me saying, “thanks for making the effort to stay in touch.” And, those touch-back, touch me. The touch-backs have affected me, too. That’s good for maintaining strong and long-lasting business relationships, as well as building an amazing social support system.
3. What value are you putting on your time?
I can’t tell you how often an employee has told me, “let’s just do that since it doesn’t cost us anything.” My response? “No, it does…that’s 20 hours of your time -- which is ridiculously valuable to the company.”
As much as I would like to make fun of that, the reality is that I’m also guilty of this same-type of mentally. For example, I fixed a toilet at one of my rentals the other day instead of calling Roto Rooter. The result? It took me five hours to mess it up even worse. You already know the rest of the story -- it only took the professional one hour to complete the fix for around $80 bucks.
Just to be clear, I guess doing that makes me think my time is worth less than $16 an hour. That’s not the case. Those five hours could have been spent getting a new client or investor. Make no mistake -- even better -- it could have been spent taking my daughters out for ice-cream.
Want to know the value that you’re putting on your time? Here’s an example of the analytics that will make you think about how often you’re in meetings. Take an actual calculation of the different types of meetings you have and what are you doing during your scheduled time. Then, look at where your meetings are. Does it make more sense to have a call instead of traveling all over Manhattan?
Next, take into account, who are the people that you’re spending your time with? In this case why did I spend 32 hours with Jim Anderson, who isn’t really important to either my work or professional life. The more you value time and are aware of how it’s being spent, the more you will make better decisions about how you can get more bang for the buck.
Begin to be very deliberate on how you spend your time. Notice and watch who you schedule your time with. Begin to ask yourself the deep questions about time. Don’t let these important thoughts go unheeded. Think about this – this is an asset – and we can never get it back.
You don’t have to go insane here -- no micromanaging yourself. I’ve learned that making slight adjustments and valuing my time, has made a dramatic effect both on my happiness and how I perform at work. And, it’s also made those people around me happier as well.
John is the co-founder of Calendar, author of the best-selling book "Top of Mind", and keynote speaker.