The first secret to work/life balance is recognizing that it’s not about balance. It is about balancing work and life. What appears to be a state of balance is something entirely different — an act of prioritizing and counterbalancing. (For example, a ballerina appears to be perfectly balanced on her toes, but a closer look reveals her toe shoes vibrating rapidly, making minute adjustments for balance.)
The second secret of work/life balance is recognizing there are two types of balancing: the balancing between work and personal life and the balancing within each. Think about two balancing buckets. Separate your work life and personal life into two distinct buckets — not to compartmentalize them, just for counterbalancing.
- Your work life is divided into two distinct areas — what matters most and everything else. You will have to take what matters to the extremes and be okay with what happens to the rest. Professional success requires it.
- Your personal life has multiple areas, and each requires a minimum of attention. Drop any one and you will feel the effects. This requires constant awareness.
An extraordinary life is a counterbalancing act. Let the right things take precedence when they should. Get to the rest when you can.
Does it seem like every day you and your team have more and more that “simply must get done”? Do you often feel overbooked, overextended, overcommitted, and “in the weeds”? Do you (or your direct reports) feel like a human pinball, bouncing from task to task throughout the day, hoping to check as many things as possible off your to-do list — but later realizing you didn’t actually accomplish anything that truly matters?
To-do lists (whether in our head, on paper, or in an electronic system) can help collect our best intentions, but they also tyrannize us with trivial, unimportant stuff that we feel obligated to get done. If allowed, a to-do list or inbox can dictate our priorities — keeping us busy but not letting us achieve real success for ourselves and our organization.
Activity is not related to productivity or success — and certainly not to extraordinary results. So how do you decide what to do, or what to do first?
Successful people have an eye for the essential. They:
- Pause long enough to decide what matters.
- Do sooner what others plan to do later.
- Defer to later (or indefinitely) what others do sooner.
- Work from a clear sense of priority.
In this episode, Jesse shares what he’s learned from chapter 4 of the book The ONE Thing and provides examples of applying the lessons. His personal tips include:
- Success list: At the end of each day, selecting and writing down the ONE Thing you will do tomorrow that will make it a successful day for you; any other to-dos are relegated to a different list and generally not worked on until the ONE Thing is done.
- Cerato or Scleranthus: Gentle herbs in the family of Bach remedies; these two options can help your mind be more clear and decisive about setting priorities. They are inexpensive and available many places online or in many health food stores.
- Decision points: As discussed in episode 165, these are moments in your day when you have the opportunity to decide what to work on next, based on your priorities, your energy, and the amount of available time.
- Mindfulness meditation and prayer: Helps you become more aware of what really matters in your work and personal life; helps improve your focus and resistance to distractions throughout the day; helps you make the most of each moment for maximum effectiveness, satisfaction, and fulfillment.
- Pareto’s Principle, also known as 80/20 Rule: Apply this lens to your to-do list to identify the few things that matter more than the rest. Then with your shorter list, apply it again, and again, until you identify the essential, imperative ONE Thing that matters the most.