Do you ever feel like your schedule is so busy that you don’t have time to focus on the things that are most important to you?
One of the things I most appreciate as an entrepreneur is the opportunity to set my own schedule, do work that I love with leaders who inspire me, and to have the flexibility to spend quality time with my family.
I haven’t always felt like I had this much power to choose my approach to work and life.
For years in my former corporate life I often worked long stressful hours that made me feel out of alignment with my core values.
I was living to work; not working to live.
I knew something had to change, but that’s not an easy task in the frenetic pace of corporate life.
As the year winds to a close, offices around the world often fly into a frenzy of activity trying to wrap up projects, finish last-minute items, and cram as many meetings into a day as you can stomach.
And all this has to fit in around all the holiday parties and (hopefully) vacation days you plan to use to take a much-needed break!
How would you complete this sentence?
“It’s the most time of the year.”
If you’re like many, the first word that popped into your mind may have been stressful… hectic… crazy… expensive… or unproductive.
It’s no surprise you feel this way. The fourth quarter is often packed with activity, and not much of it is proactively planned in advance, so reactive chaos abounds!
I can’t emphasize this enough: It is SO important to be mindful of how you spend your time and energy! If you don’t slow down and take charge of your day, your day will run you.
Here’s a great test: If someone else were to sneak a peek at your calendar, what conclusions would they draw about you?
Do you build in time to take care of yourself? How about spend quality time with your family and friends? Take vacation?
If you step back and see your schedule through the eyes of a stranger, it can be a real wake-up call that it’s time to make some changes.
Confession: My OLD calendar made some interesting claims about my priorities until I learned how to take charge of my life. Now, I focus on working with purpose so that I can support the balance I want for myself and my family.
I’m not advocating that you only spend time playing around. Work has to get done—but it’s how you approach your work that’s key. When you work intentionally, you can be more productive and get more done in fewer hours.
Ask yourself, “Am I working to live or living to work?”
If you don’t like the answer to that question you may have to make (and take, by force if necessary) the time to recharge so you’re ready to come back each day and give 100%.
Sound like something you want more of in your life? Consider these questions to get started:
- Start with the end in mind.
What do you want your work days/weeks to look like in terms of your schedule? If you’ve been dreaming of working a true 40-hour week, think about which time-consuming activities you can pare down, cut out, or delegate to others on your team.
- Proactively plan your days to take intentional action.
This means spending about 30 minutes the day before your work week starts (usually Sunday) to determine your top 3 priorities for the week. While interruptions and unplanned items will invariably pop up, when you go back to working all your energy should be focused on accomplishing these items. You’ll be amazed at how much you get done when you use this approach!
- Assess your top values and align your work for maximum satisfaction.
Your values drive your motivation and decision-making. When your work is aligned with what’s most important in your life, you’ll be happier and more productive.
The next time you ask yourself, “Am I working to live or living to work,” I hope your answer is one that reflects your top priorities and values. Life is short. Work hard and play hard, too.