I started my career at the age of 18; right out of school. I spent my first few working years as an accounts clerk at a major manufacturing company, while I began studying and making my way into the technology field. Fast forward about 2 years, I was given a position in the computer department; and it was there that I found my love for the field of Telecommunications. It’s a very interesting story but I would leave my transition to Telecom for another Blog article. I wanted to use this article to answer a question that I continuously get from people; especially the ones that don’t really know me. I am often asked “ how do you find balance; how do you find the time to get everything done”.
Let me start off by saying that I am no Work Life Balance Guru. The truth is that I don’t get everything done, but I work hard to get the Important things done. I still struggle with my day to day activities and keeping everything going. My interpretation of Work Life Balance may be a bit different to everyone else’s. When you love what you do; it’s not really considered work. Therein lies my Dilemma. It’s very easy for me to get consumed with “Work”, so I work very hard at achieving that balance. I prefer to look at it as keeping focused on what is important.
Make no mistake, I am at the stage in my life where I am having fun. I am building what will be the MOST successful and sought-after Telecommunications Integrator in the Region. I have access to cutting edge technology and brilliant resources all over the world. I have designed networks locally, regionally and internationally. All of this is nice and exciting; but none of this compares to how I feel about my family. My family will always be the most important thing in my life. So, finding balance to me is making the time to focus on my family. I have been working at this for many years, but the steps below have been the most successful for me thus far:
1. Put My Family First
As mentioned above, my family is very dear to me. To ensure that they are taken care of, I prioritize family activities and plan all other tasks around them. I function better knowing that they are comfortable, and I have nothing outstanding. This includes, school drop-off and pickups, PTA meetings, home-work sessions etc. My daughter has an active calendar and getting her to her activities includes a lot of logistics. I have realised that once these family activities are catered for and on time, I am able to be more productive. I get stressed out when I am not able to dedicate time to my wife or my daughter so in order to address that, I use them as the basis for planning my day. This approach forces me to be more effective with time allocated for customer meetings, company operations, collaborations, my team, projects etc.
I have always been an active person; I think this is where my daughter gets it from. I try my best to exercise at least 4 times in a 7-day week. I normally choose from running, cycling, weight training, basketball or swimming. Exercise helps me relax and takes my mind off whatever happened during the day. I try my best to be fully involved in the activity and lose myself for that period. I generally prefer mornings to exercise because it sets me up for the day, but with my schedule this is not always possible. I usually just make it a priority to get the exercise time in. By far my favorite exercise is a 30-mile ride through the forest in the morning before work. This sets my day up so good; I find that I am super productive after that 90-minute high intensity activity.
My background is engineering, and I love to build stuff. I have been a professional photographer for over 10 years. Based on my schedule, I often shoot more studio portraits and some images for advertising and promotional opportunities. Photography allows me to have another avenue to use my technical skills, especially when shooting in studio. It relaxes and excites me at the same time. I love creating beautiful images. My two favorite models are my wife and daughter.
I continue to grow and understand that you cannot do it alone. Teamwork makes the dream work. As someone that worked in engineering for many years, I have struggled with making the transition from day to day engineering to running an organisation. Toeing this line created issues for me. One challenge that I had was where I basically kept work that I felt that I was the only one capable of delivering. This quickly became an issue for both my well-being and the organisation’s. I began to overwork myself, miss deadlines and frustrate my family and staff. It’s still a work in progress but I have gotten a lot better at delegating work. I now make it a habit of asking myself if something can and should be delegated, once it can it often is.
5. Quiet Time
This is time where I sit and think about anything that I want to think about; including work. The objective here is to slow down and just get away from everything and everyone else. I try to do this at least once a day for a least 15 minutes. I am not successful all the time, but I am getting better at it. I even build in some quite time when I am at my daughters’ activities. It does wonders for me when I can just disconnect and think or plan, without the pressures of the day.
6. Use Tools
I have struggled with personal productivity for many years. I am continuously seeking out tools to help me plan my day and keep me reminded of all activities. It may sound simple but for me, the more productive apps are the ones that do it all in one place. I hate having to switch from apps to manage different things. I prefer apps that allows me to work and keep a close tab on all activities; personal and professional. I also like to sit and review previous weeks and look closely at how I was able to manage my self and activities. This allows me to not just adjust my behavior for the following week, but to learn from my mistakes. I have been trying to seek out an app that performs that analysis and provides the necessary insights and I have recently found it. The app is called Office 365 My Analytics. I use Microsoft Outlook and To DO for scheduling and planning and the My Analytics app is run in the background unknown to me. It’s all integrated into one platform and is accessible on all your devices. So far it has confirmed my issue of working too much hours after work and I already have insights on how to address it for the next month. I know it may sound like I am running my life using tools, but we need to appreciate the fact that we need help. I guarantee you if you find the right tool and approach it with the right mindset, you will adjust your productivity.
The above steps will not work for everyone; it’s still a work in progress for me, but to date these are the steps that I use to stay sane and focused on what is important. Let’s hear what you use to find that balance.