Posts Tagged ‘work-life balance’

Labour Day: How Are You Celebrating Work …..?

September 3, 2012

Happy Labour Day! Are you working? Thinking abour work? Or taking a last day off before the onslaught of work and the busy season ahead? Or maybe a bit of all of the above?

Labour Day’s origin’s go way back in Canada to 1872. Traditionally it was a day to advocate for and/or celebrate workers’ rights. Back then, there was great effort to campaign for worker’s rights to have a 9 hour day. 

Hmmm. Times have changed. Labour Day is now a chance for one of the last hurrahs’ of summer. And 9 hour work days?? What are those? Increasingly most people are experiencing the blur of work and life lines. The dividers we once knew no longer exist. We check our emails on our smart phones while on the dock at the cottage? Tuck in a few hours of work on Sunday (or holiday Monday) before the ‘official’ work week begins.

While traditional paradigms of work-life balance have changed, we still need to take a stand for our own ‘sense of balance’ and in that I mean balancing our energy, mojo and time for stuff inside and outside of work. 

For myself – my approach tends to be a blend. I often do a bit of work on ‘days off’ and squeeze in ‘life time’ on ‘days on’. But according to Dr. Greg Wells, a scientist and ‘extreme human physiologist’, we need to pay attention to recovery more so than the ongoing ‘balance’.

I heard Wells speak at the Canadian Conference on Positive Psychology. Wells who works with Olympians and elite athletes skyped from London just as the Olympics were about to start. He was reporting for the CTV news network.  

Wells said one of the things Olympians and high performance athletes do really well that contributes to their high performance is they know how to recover well. In their training they stress themselves continuously to reach new heights. But most importantly, they know how to recover better, faster and for more sustaining performance.  

Recovery is actually a strategy in itself. You don’t have to be an Olympian to incorporate this into your life. We all can benefit from learning to recover better and faster from stress and demands of our work (and life). This will not only improve our capacity for greater performance in work and life but we’ll boost our mojo and wellbeing. 

 Try the 1,3,2 Principle: Most of us will agree that the demands of work and life these days make it difficult to achieve a ‘balance’ each day/week/month so instead make sure you build in ample ‘recovery time’. Wells talked about using the 1.3,2 principle. This is about building in time to completely unplug from work.

1 hour (minimum) of total recovery a day

3 full days (minimum) of recovery a month…preferably continuous, not separate

2 weeks (minimum) of full recovery a year….preferably continuous, not separate

 Recovery activities may look different to each of us. The key is to completely unplug from work AND be intentional in creating a meaningful recovery strategy to build into your days/month and year so that you truly do refresh, rest and rebuild your resevoir of energy.

So on this Labour Day weekend, as you face the oncoming ‘busy season’, take a moment and ask yourself what your recovery and resilience strategies will be? And how can you put the 1,3,2 principle into action as you dive into the new season?

Here’s to resilience, energy and mojo in your work life in the coming season!


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Overwhelmed? Strategies to Tame the Overwhelm Gremlin…

November 1, 2010

UPDATE NOTE: Check out my new book: Ease – Strategies to Manage Overwhelm in “Times of Crazy Busy”. Tons of tips and really super simple ideas to help you tame the loads, manage the stress and bring more well-being into your life — even in times of ‘crazy busy’. See more at the book website here. 

Are you like most people these days – overwhelmed, stressed, too much to do and too little time? This has become an epidemic. A Globe and Mail poll found that Canadians endure an average of 14 stress periods a week. According the latest report from the Canadian Index of Wellbeing one in five people are experiencing high levels of  “crunch” time – described as periods of overwhelm due to overcrowded inboxes and jammed weekly schedules.

Roy Romanow, the former Saskatchewan premier and current chair of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing Advisory Board said (in a Globe and Mail article this weekend), “We are paying a steep price for this time crunch” and has called for a national dialogue on public policy. Scientists are affirming this need as well. Why? Because there are major implications on our health and wellbeing – and it’s affecting us both personally, professionaly and also as a society.  We’re heading for trouble if we don’t get that work-life balance back in gear.

Tell me about it!!! I see this ‘overwhelm’ pandemic everywhere I go. With clients, friends, family — and in my own life. Yeah, I’m not embarrassed to admit it: overwhelm – that’s my achilles heel. I work hard and am constantly stretching myself. Sometimes a little (or a lot) too much. So I coach what interests me and ‘taming the overwhelm gremlin’ is pretty high on that list. I work hard to walk my own talk and over the years have developed many  strategies that I find helpful – as do many of my coaching clients.

Here are just a few that you  may find helpful too.

 Write it Down: Everyone has got loads to do but trying to remember everything can add undue levels of frazzle and clutter in your head. It’s a waste of energy and takes you away from being present. More to the point: it’s exhausting and distracting!  So instead, make a habit of “writing it down”.  This is a survival tactic for me – and I’m often surprised when I hear others haven’t developed this habit. So, make a list and get your ‘to-dos’ out of your head (so you can focus on the task at hand).  Then of course, don’t forget to check what you wrote down often enough to keep you on track.

To-do Lists  are great, but don’t forget the ‘TA DA – DONE LIST’ too:  As per above, To-Do lists are important to stay organized but they never end, do they? And often we pay more attention to what hasn’t yet gotten done and too little attention to what we have accomplished. It’s very common for people to scratch off their tasks and focus on what’s next or what hasn’t yet been done. That in itself is exhausted and can take the wind out of our sails. You know what I mean if you can picture yourself (or others) sighing in exasperation of all that is still yet to be done.  Stop the insanity (as Jon Stewart might say:). Take some time to notice and acknowledge what you did get done. No task is too small. Heck, this weekend, I changed the vaccum cleaner bag — whoo hoo!!! Well, hopefully you get the point.

Action Tip: make a habit of writing down (or minimally, reflecting) on everything you did get done in a given day (or week)  And accept the fact that the to-do list will always have new stuff or even old stuff that needs to be rolled over to the next day. Pay attention the energy you get from ‘owning up’ to what you did get done vs. the energy drain from exclusively focusing on ‘what’s next’ or ‘not yet done’.

Learn to Say NO. Ahhh, one of my favorites. Are you, like many others, addicted to the yes habit? This week, start to pay more attention to what you are saying ‘yes’ to and what you need to say ‘no’ to more often.  We often get into ‘reactive’ mode and ‘yes ourselves to overwhelm’  Saying no may sound easier said then done. I get that — and presented a webinar on this topic. You can check it out (it’s free and easy to access). It’s called: “Are You Addicted to the Yes Habit?”  All you have to do is register online at the CICA page (they hosted this webinar)  to see/hear the archive. It only takes a few seconds and voila, you can watch at your leisure.  Oh – that’s right, not much leisure. Well, try it anyhow:)

You can also check out a column I wrote (Are you Addicted to Yes) on this topic for the CICA CareerVision newsletter.

Ask Yourself the Right Questions: I’m a huge advocate of being a ‘question-thinker’ and learning to ask the RIGHT questions to help you get the results you want. Here are a few that can help with that ‘time crunch’ and overwhelm issue:

-How can I take more responsibility for the choices I am making and what I’m saying yes to?

-What can I say ‘no’ to – starting today?

-What can I delegate?

-What are my top priorities and what can I really let go of?

-What does balance look like TODAY (or insert another time frame like ‘this month’ or ‘this week’)?

This purpose of this last question is to acknowledge that balance is an ebb and flow thing and doesn’t necessarily look the same all the time. Make the appropriate adjustments to your expectations of what balance means as you live/work in different periods. For instance, fall is always a very busy time for me. So balance in September is going to be different from what balance may be in June or July. Still, no matter how busy life gets, there is always some form of balance. The key is to be aware and then make the commitment to create it.

Folks, I’ve got many, many more tips and strategies (check out this blog for more!). As well, I welcome hearing from you on what your favorites are. But for now, it’s time to carve out a bit of white space for me….speaking of which, how are you doing on that ‘white space’ thing? Check out the post I wrote a little while back.

P.S  before I sign off for the evening, I am going to take my few seconds to check off ‘write blog post’ from my ‘TO-DO’ list and put it on my ‘TA DA – DONE!’ list…….DONE. Ohhhh that feels good.

To a TGIM Work Life!

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Survey says: Balanced Workers Are More Engaged

January 22, 2008

The research is in. It’s been proven (yet again). Work-life balance is good for business…

 (Photo courtesy of rexanders on Flickr)

According to a survey released last month by Sirota Survey Intelligence, employees who experience reasonable balance between their personal and professional lives have positive views about their work, are more engaged and are more apt to feel pride in the companies they work at. They are also more likely to recommend thier employers to others.

The press release issued by the company highlighted the following:

* Of the 73% of employees that said they felt overall positive about their work-life balance, 89% rated a favorable satisfaction with their companies. This compares to only 58% satisfaction levels (with their companies) among those who had negative views about their work-life balance

* 88% of that same group (positive about work-life balance) would recommend their employers as a place to work vs. only 64% of those negative about work-life balance.

Interestingly, the survey also pointed out that not having enough work can be more of an issue than too much work.

* Only 44% of those who say they have too little work are satisfied with their jobs compared with 69% who said they have too much.

Douglas Klein, President of Sirota Survey Intelligence, says “Work-life balance is almost an afterthought to people who feel their employers are meeting their end of the deal by being fair, providing interesting and meaningful work, and recognition or rewards for a job well done.”

Well said….I say. The balance issue is definitely something that must be achieved with efforts and commitment from both employer and employee. Companies that take work-life balance seriously will be rewarded with more engaged people, a reputation that attracts talent and better retention.

Not a bad deal, eh? Attact the keepers and keep the keepers.

But ‘taking it seriously’ means walking the talk….so ensuring there are policies, programs and a supportive culture aligned with work-life balance and other related values.

 Do I hear flex time anyone? Opportunities for progressive career paths? Opportunities for career and work-life coaching (for high potentials/high performers)?

No doubt there are complexities on both sides of the ‘work-life balance bargain’ (employers/employees). But the most important thing is to set the intention – authentically.

Soooo, how are you navigating and keeping up your end of the ‘work-life balance bargain’? Would love to hear from you whether you are on the employee or employer side.

And if interested, I wrote an article on similar topic…you can find it here: “Keeping the Keepers“.

Till next time….and to a TGIM work-life:)

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To Things That Matter….

October 12, 2007


Well, today’s post is indeed inspired by one of my coaching clients. I don’t usually share details of a coaching conversation …..but I will share a post that Michael (my client) has written on his own blog about some insights he had from our conversation and his subsequent reflection. So add this to your ‘to do list’ and read Michael’s post Getting Things (that matter) Done” on his blog. Very inspiring, entertaining and well worth a read.

(Photo courtesy of Ebby on Flickr)

Our conversation and his subsequent reflection related to the topic(s) of how one organizes themself, their day/time/tasks, etc. To do a ‘to do list’ — or not ‘to do’? What goes in; what stays out; how do you stay accountable to your goals and intentions?  How to find a system that works for you…..

For those that have been here before, you’ll see this builds on a previous post I wrote a few months ago (“Oh yeah, that balance thing…when I have time).  

So rather than recreating/re-writing it all….I invite you to check out both posts…

…if you have time, of course:)

To things that matter — and to a TGIM worklife!


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