In every challenge there is an opportunity… and the current Covid-19 pandemic is no exception. Once we have dealt with the pressing needs around moving work home (and assuming we can get past the health and financial implications), it seems we have a real opportunity to reflect, examine and choose a “new normal” for our rhythm of work, home and life, after the virus has run its course.
Far too many of us have been hurtling through life at full speed in this 24/7 always on digital culture, barely catching our breath at the weekends before racing full speed ahead, week after week. Our health as a society is creaking and edging towards breaking point. The signs of stress, fatigue and burnout, are all around us in broken relationships, broken homes and broken people.
Over the last decade we have been attempting to move to a more flexible work culture. Some companies and teams have managed to achieve this, others have struggled to move from policy to practice. Quite often, the challenge is rooted in a work culture that values and rewards being present and visible, re-enforced by leaders who model behaviours that contradict a flexible work culture.
Now that we are all forced to work from home for the foreseeable future, what if we used this as the platform to really make the cultural shift we have been trying to do for so long?
Instead of replicating office habits and practices in the home, what if we pressed pause, took the time to rethink work/life balance and designed a healthier approach from the bottom up? We might not be able to change the whole organisation at once, but we can certainly take charge of the pace and rhythm of our own lives.
What if post Covid-19, we could each have a rhythm of work and life that allowed us to feel more balanced, gave us time to attend to the people and things we value, helped us be more energetic and motivated at work, included “me time” as well as time to exercise and look after our health and had us waking up each day feeling vibrant, fully alive and fully on purpose? Sounds like a dream?
We are all so used to the rat race that this might sound two far-fetched, but don’t switch off! Below are four things to reflect on over the next few weeks to help you redesign your work/life balance for a healthier, more vibrant and purposeful future. You might not achieve utopia, but you can definitely move the needle on feeling less stressed and more present, especially in your most important relationships.
1. What are the things you plan to do “one day”?
If time and money were no object, what would you do, who would you do it with and where would you be? Quite often we have these “one day” plans without a date and then wake up to discover another decade has passed. Take some time to dust off those goals and dreams and ask yourself What if? What would it take to put plans in place now? Even if you can’t do “the thing”, could you make a start?
2. What “grates” on the inside?
So many of us live a life on the outside that contradicts our values on the inside. The “grating” is that sinking feeling that washes over you when the very things you hold dear have not been lived out on this occasion, or series of occasions…like being home-based to be more available for your family, yet always feeling under pressure, being ratty and unpleasant, working evenings and weekends, and always expecting your nearest and dearest to understand – because you’re doing it “for the family”. Occasionally and short -term, maybe, but as a long-term strategy this is likely to become the catalyst for relationship breakdown on many levels.
Sometimes the grating comes from feeling unable to say no to other people’s requests. Pay attention to what grates – what is it telling you? Gratings are like neon signs pointing to the things you value but are being compromised.
The more clarity you have round your values and priorities, the easier it becomes to choose the right thing and not get stressed about it.
3. What are your “one day” plans and internal “gratings” suggesting as values and priorities for you?
Let’s face it, if you don’t value your values and goals, nobody else will. The challenge is we are so busy being “busy” in life that we never take the time to identify and articulate our values and priorities – to ourselves, let alone anyone else. That’s how some people end up with middle-aged crisis, “waking up” in their mid-fifties and realising they spent life climbing the wrong wall.
Taking the time to identify the things that are important to you in life allows you to design the life that incorporates them into your agenda instead of keeping them on permanent hold. That’s when the magic happens – you become more alive, more purposeful, more inspiring to be around. Decisions become easier because you know the direction you are headed in and you invest time in meaningful things rather than frittering it away. And you no longer sweat the small stuff.
4. How could you rework your schedule to be Based on your Values rather than your to-do list?
By answering the questions above, you will have a pretty good idea of your core values and life goals. How can you re-organise life to live those out more intentionally on a daily basis?
In its simplest form creating a schedule based on values starts with creating a “template schedule” of your ideal week – one that respects the need to work but gives time and space to the priorities in your life and allows you to fit the stuff of life into nooks and crannies rather than the other way around. Your mind is at peace when you know your partner, your children, your parents, your need for exercise, your faith, your hobbies and anything else really important to you will have their moment for attention, no matter how busy your week looks. Or if you won’t have time for them in a given week, you know how you need to redress the balance so neither you nor your loved ones resent your work or anything else that pulls you away. Pull out your diary. How are the things you really value reflected there (ouch!)?
This one discipline empowers you to say yes without hesitation, no without guilt (even to good things) and keeps you moving in the direction of your priorities rather than being at the beck and call of OPAs (other people’s agendas!).
So much is changing quickly around us. You would not be alone if you chose to temporarily suspend assumptions about work and life. It’s as if we have been given a blank sheet of paper to redesign how we do work, home and life. The question is, what will you draw on yours? The future pace and rhythm of life that you desire is literally in your hands. Draw well, so you can be well, in every aspect of your life.
If you would like to find out more about how you too can Press Reset and design your ideal work/life balance, check out our blog on Scheduling First Things First, or visit the4habits.com to discover how four simple but fundamental habits can equip you to build great relationships at work and at home.