The Pursuit of Balance
By Dr. Michael J. Zappa
Long term success in life is rarely achieved by perpetual crisis management and the ability to work around the clock to meet a deadline…not that great leaders and successful individuals don’t have that ability and need to deploy it from time to time! One of the keys to sustained success is balance. Balance should not be viewed as a goal that is attained; rather a dynamic state in need of frequent adjustment…like a see-saw.
Plenty has been written about time management and work life balance, each method with its own merits. If you have taken some of this published advice and it has brought you success, don’t change a thing. If you continue to struggle, I urge you to read on.
Since you are still reading, you probably wish you had more time in your day: to contemplate the beauty of the world around you, to exercise more, to write the next great American novel, to accomplish powerful and meaningful things in your job, spend time with loved ones, connect with friends old and new, etc., etc.
Try the Rule of 2 in your schedule.
Commit to 2 hours per day for yourself…. decide what is essential and important to you outside of your career, schedule the time and just do it. It might be an hour of exercise in the early morning and reading a book on the back porch at night; it could be a long walk with your dog in the am and reading to your children at night. It’s 100% your choice, under your control. It sets the foundation for a great day because whatever else comes, you have addressed your personal needs.
Commit to 2 hours of highly productive time at work…. not to imply that your usual 8, 12- or 16-hour day is wasted, but this guarantees 2 hours to get done what you know is important, what will help bring you and your organization to the next level. These 2 hours are protected from the barrage of emails, meetings scheduled by everyone else, and the demands of crisis management often resulting from others’ poor planning.
Commit to 2 minutes to make a personal phone call. Reach out to someone (not by email) who is a mentor, an inspiration, a family member, or an old friend. This brief conversation will help keep everything in perspective.
After doing this for 30 days, see if you feel better about yourself, and your accomplishments. If people around you comment that you seem less stressed and happier, perhaps you’ve made the right adjustments to maintain your dynamic state of balance.