I’m so sick of hearing about work/life balance. It’s a complete joke.
Being preoccupied with this idea of “balance” doesn’t do anything helpful for anyone. All it means is that you’re one place doing one thing when you could/should be doing another, and you’re so wrapped up in your “shoulds” that you can’t perform at your peak regardless of what you’re doing.
The other problem with this kind of thinking is that it implies all kinds of stress are bad - and that's just not the case. The reality is there are some ways you can actually use stress to your advantage, and for that matter, you are going to feel some kinds of stress if you are experiencing growth.
The Truth Is We Don’t Want Balance. We Want To Be Present.
And it’s awfully hard to be present when you’re worried about not being home in time to see your kids before they go to bed when you’re stressing over the project at work you’re still not finished with.
It's not crazy to think work life balance for executives is possible. No one separates their life into buckets where work lives in one mental space and life lives in another, especially not if you love the work you do. You might be playing with your kid on the monkey bars when a solution to a problem at work dawns on you.
You can’t decide when inspiration decides to strike. What you can do is make sure you’re prepared to handle it when it does.
That’s why today I want to focus on giving you some concrete solutions designed to help you make the most of your time - whether you’re at work or at home - so you can be present wherever you are.
I call these work/life workflows, and they range from automating the things you don’t need to be doing, to getting help with the problems that will make the most impact for you.
Between free or low-cost tech and the ability to outsource or delegate effectively, you can start living a better life in less time than ever.
Use a scheduling tool
If you’re not using a scheduling tool already, you’re wasting time going back and forth.
Assistant.to is a free app that works directly in Gmail and Google Calendar to streamline your scheduling habits. If you have meetings that are similar in nature, Calendly is a great option, too. You can easily create types of appointments, choose when those appointments can be booked, and decide how much time you want in between meetings. Finally, YouCanBook.Me allows people to book you based on the availability listed in your integrated calendar.
Most scheduling tools do take some time to get up and running, so make sure when you do decide to use one that you have some time set aside.
Confirm your appointments
Appointments that don’t get confirmed can get missed altogether by one or both parties.
Whether it’s your scheduling tool sending an automated email the day before or your assistant confirming the details of tomorrow’s lunch date, confirming your appointments is a simple way to save yourself hassle before meetings.
(And whether you’re in sales or simply growing your network, an additional touchpoint is never a bad thing.)
Add travel time into your estimates
This is one of those ways you can tell the difference between a high-powered CEO and someone who is still trying to get it together.
When you add travel time into your schedule, what you’re giving yourself is permission to focus.
Whether it’s having a few extra dedicated moments to prepare for your next meeting or time in an Uber to use Headspace and clear your head, start planning your travel time to maximize your impact.
Automate your meeting prep
Ramit Sethi, of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, has a story he’s shared on many occasions about a run-in with a Google exec on a panel who showed up completely prepared, thanks to the prep work the executive’s assistant did in advance.
Wish you were that ready to perform without having to spend hours painstakingly preparing your notes? You absolutely can be. A good executive assistant is every CEO’s dream, but you already know how difficult they can be to find (as well as to keep around long-term).
Prialto can bridge the divide and get you the assistance you need with lower overhead and less balls being dropped. Interested in learning how? Click here.
Use an expense management tool
This is one of those things that is a royal pain if you're still operating with paper. There are so many great tools that can help you easily track your expenses, saving you time and helping you stay focused on what matters.
Curious what we use? Here's a roundup of some of our favorite expense management tools here at Prialto.
Have someone else do the shopping
Now, there aren't many things that I will call life-changing, but getting my groceries delivered every week is one the best decisions I have ever made. I started using Instacart two years ago, and the time, money, and attention that I save by ordering online isn't something to write off.
Thanks to wanting to compete in the grocery space, Amazon Now is now increasingly available, too, and you can get your groceries delivered via your Prime subscription. Bonus: if you reach a certain threshold, the delivery itself is free.
Have someone else handle your calls
It's 2017, and let's be real - most of us dread being on the phone.
Skip the calls unless they’re adding value by getting yourself a gatekeeper. Ruby Receptionists are fantastic at this, and we handle it here for our clients at Prialto, too.
Have someone else manage the follow up
Excellent follow up makes people feel like they matter.
High-touch handling is what clients and contacts expect. Send an email, greeting card, or even a handwritten note without lifting a finger by having your assistant manage this via your CRM, Greetabl, Postable, and FeltApp.
Optimize your calendar
The best way to manage your energy is to keep things on your calendar as consistent as possible. For example, I know I write best in the morning. Based on that knowledge, I’ve taken to blocking off the first part of my days for creating the majority of my content.
Having consistency like this gives you a sense of relief as well. You don’t have to worry about when you’re getting it done, because you already know you’ve got time blocked off for it.
Shorten your meetings
Meetings have a funny way of expanding to fill the allotted time they are scheduled, regardless of whether or not the full time is needed to accomplish what the meeting was scheduled for in the first place.
Start having better meetings today by shortening the amount of time you schedule for them and, if you're feeling really motivated, start creating meeting agendas.
Your Life Doesn't Have To Be So Busy - But You Have To Step Up
I don't mean to call you out, but this isn't the first post like this that you've read, is it?
If you're reading this thinking, "Yeah, that sounds great, but how can I possibly trust anyone to handle some of those tasks for me?", well, you might be a control freak when it comes to delegating. But don't worry. We've all been there.
The best thing you can possibly do to get past this is start tracking and writing down the steps in your repeatable processes.
Seeing it all written down makes it that much easier to see where in the process you don't need to be involved for something to still be done well.
To help you do this, we've created a standard operating procedure (SOP) template to help you define exactly how it is you do what you do, so you easily can pass it off your administrative tasks to an assistant.
Getting things done doesn't have to be such a grind after all.