While I’d be the first to say that I love technology and have quite the crush on my iPhone, our constant connectedness has changed the pace at which we work. And it is making the whole work/life balance thing even more of an unachievable dream, especially for meeting professionals.
Did you know recent surveys have found…
• Three out of four people admit to texting while driving. (Please stop.)
• 39 percent say they wait for a red light before texting.
• 26 percent of car accidents are caused by phone usage. (See the first bullet!)
• 61 percent of people sleep with their phone next to their bed or under their pillows.
• 76 percent of women said they check their smart phones at least once an hour, and half of those admitted to sneaking a peek every 15 minutes.
• People check their phones, on average, 110 times a day.
• About 12 percent of adults use their phone in the shower. (What?)
• 20 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 admit to using their phones during sex. (Now that’s not paying attention to what’s important!)
• While on vacation, 44 percent of people admit to checking their work email.
The whole 24/7 thing is creating a vacuum that is sucking up time that you simply can’t get back. Do we really need to be constantly connected? Well, we do, and we don’t!
It’s important to remember that how long you work today, how much downtime you want to budget for yourself, and how much you commit to all the different areas of your life are all your choices to make daily—that’s one of the biggest benefits of being a meeting planner. There will always be commitments, obligations, proposals to write, and to-do list items that must be done—but ultimately, you’re in the driver’s seat. We all get 24 hours in a day to navigate and invest in.
We need to change the narrative from seeking to balance work and life to integrating our work and personal lives. You can do this by developing perspective, a big-picture mindset, and the ability to fold your time so that you can manage it effectively and still pay attention to the things that truly matter to you. These are the keys to leading a happier, more fulfilled life—and to succeeding at a high level.
To integrate your work with your life, turn your attention and focus to these three areas: your environment, your emotions, and your expectations.
Environment: Create the environment you want. Regardless of where you work (from home, in a convention center, or in an office), add components to your professional space that will fuel your energy, creativity, and productivity—whatever that looks like for you. For some that might mean fresh flowers, positive messages, and an ergonomic workstation. At home, take a walk through your living and sleeping spaces as well—does it support the life you want? On the road, can you bring something that reminds you of those you care about? What can you do to re-energize those environments in ways that help nourish and support the life you want to live?
Emotions: Step one is to give up the guilt and worry! Guilt and worry are both such a waste of emotions (and the meeting planners I know have these in spades!). They accomplish nothing, help no one, and rob you of the psychological bandwidth you need to problem-solve and pay attention to the important things in life. Instead, look for opportunities. Celebrate the wins. Choose to see the good and let the rest of it go. When you release yourself from these two mental and energy drains, you’ll surprise yourself with how much additional time you will have to devote to the positive forces in your life.
Expectations: Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day and don’t be afraid to delegate. Communicate what you need with those you share your work and home life with, and schedule time for recovery on your calendar. Take a look at the things that can be delegated, or frankly even eliminated, to free up time for what matters.
Folding-time tips for meeting planners who want to get more done and achieve work-life integration:
15 minutes: Each day, invest 15 minutes in an activity that will help you feel more in control of your environment, emotions, and expectations. I suggest a strategic appointment with yourself to identify your top three non-negotiables.
Say no. No is a full sentence, and one that most people need to lovingly practice more in their lives. When you learn to say no to the things that you don’t want in life, you get to say yes to the things that are important to you. It also eliminates distractions, keeps the focus on your goals, and puts you on a path to be a more focused leader.
Get crystal clear: It’s hard to hit a moving target. When you’re unsure of your plan, your goals, and your vision for the most important things you’re eager to achieve, it’s hard to knock it out of the park. The good news is the reverse is also true. When you’re exceptionally clear on what you want, where you’re headed, the highest vision you have for your future, and the things that are so powerfully important to you, you’ll jump out of bed each day with a passion to make them happen—you can’t lose.
And lastly (ironically)—put yourself first: The truth is that if you’re not healthy, happy, and looking after yourself, you’ll never be your best for your company, your clients, your family, or anyone else. That whole, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” thing is real. Step one in making a better life is to schedule yourself first. Book an appointment every day that is focused on you. In addition to your 15 minutes of daily professional head-clearing time (see first tip), dedicate some time to exercise, mediate, sit quietly, read, engage in self-development—or all of the above!
I wish you great success on your journey to create the life you’ve always imagined.