Why the work-life balance isn't a myth (and more importantly - how you can get it)

Grazia's resident Performance Coach Blake Sergeant on how to achieve the flimsiest, most elusive trick of all... balance
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Why the work-life balance isn't a myth (and more importantly - how you can get it)

Yes, you read that right. As unlikely that hallowed work-life balance may seem, it's elusive - not impossible. I won't lie, though. It won't fall into your lap, either. The life you live is 100 per cent your creation, and that means you have to fully take control of it to create exactly what you want. And for most of us, balance is pretty high on the agenda.

Balance doesn't necessarily mean our time should be spent equally, though. It means that we're equally satisfied with the different areas of our life. Or, as I like to call it, being a fulfillionaire - someone who is rich in every area.

The reality is that if you work 9-5 (“I wish!” I hear you cry), you’ll be spending about 25 per cent of your time at work. Assuming you sleep seven hours a night (just a tip: don’t waste your life snoozing), that leaves you 47 per cent of your week that’s yours. Here's my 5D plan to make the most of that 47 per cent...

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1. DESIGN

First things first: are you actually clear on what you'd like your life to look like? If a genie granted you a wish with a 12-month delivery date, could you ask for what you actually want? No? Then how can your unconscious mind seek out and focus on creating it for you?

Designing your life is like designing your dream house. You must first spend time in the ‘architect’ phase and create an ideal 12-month snapshot of what you want to build. Work is largely spelled out for us - we know what’s expected and when to turn up - but the danger starts when we don’t put energy into getting clear on what we want from the other areas of our life. So start with this question:

"What would I have to do to make ……… area of my life a 10/10?" Ask this question about your relationship, social life, family, health, money, career, attitude and personal growth. Once you have that blueprint, you can go about building it.

2. DELEGATE

How much do you value yourself? What price tag would you put on your time? If you want to make the most of your 47 per cent, then use it doing the things that are important. If you can afford to delegate tasks that you don’t enjoy, then you’ll have more time to focus on what’s important to you. Think Washmen, Uber, Deliveroo and Fetchr - and use the time you've saved.

Performance Coach Blake Sergeant. Middle name: 'Balance'

3. DISCONNECT

Leave work at work. Easier said than done, I know, but if you set the precedent that you'll answer emails 24 hours a day - including holidays - that’s what people will expect. Reset the boundaries and reeducate others on how we would like to be communicated with. My clients never call me because they know I don’t answer, with my philosophy being that a lack of planning on their part does not constitute an emergency on mine. I reply to them during two allocated time slots a day.

While we're on the subject of disconnecting... a digital detox is never a bad idea. Take Facebook and Instagram off your phone and leave your phone outside the bedroom at night. Get an alarm clock!

4. DEVELOP

Your past does not equal your future, but if you want new results, you need new actions. You must continue to develop yourself to create new opportunities for your future. Your education didn't stop when you left school - that’s when it should have started!

It's disappointing how many adults do nothing to learn new skills and develop their earning potential. For those who want to build choice and freedom into their life, reading a book per fortnight should be the bare minimum. Enrol yourself into 'automobile university' - sign up to audible.com and listen to one book a week to broaden your horizons. Whenever your engine's on, or if you're sitting in the back of a Careem, a book or podcast should be playing. Don’t waste your time listening to mundane drivel on the radio.

You are not a tree, you can move, and you can change. If you're not happy with the balance you have right now, then commit to developing yourself so that you have more opportunities for your future.

5. DEADLINE

A project at work, a new business, a baby... there will of course be times of imbalance where the majority of your focus goes to one area. Don’t panic, uni-tasking is a far more valuable skill than multi-tasking, and the ability to stay committed and focus on one thing is something to be proud of. But if you have a period of focus, make sure you give yourself a deadline. Set a date and mark it with a holiday or a reward, but don’t let the weeks turn into months or even years.

My question to you is this: Is balance really the issue, or does it come back to a lack of clarity on what you want from your life outside work? Can balance be regained simply by cutting out wasteful tasks and planning better to make the most of your 47 per cent?

The above will help you regain control, but it's crucial to remember to be kind to yourself, make mistakes and be fluid, because life isn’t all about having everything mapped out. Sometimes the greatest pleasure is found when your life can be seen as a beautiful mess.

Photos: iStock, supplied and Instagram