Neen James is an author, coach, mentor and keynote speaker focused on the art of paying attention and achieving more in less time. We asked her for some tips on how to focus on what's important and choose how to spend time more wisely. Here's what she had to say.
The whole work/life balance thing? That's always been a myth for entrepreneurs. An illusion. And frankly? An unachievable dream that has caused millions to lose sleep. For the sake of your well-being, sanity and self-worth―please stop trying to achieve it. There are no "scales of equity" for managing your personal, professional and family time. Perspective, 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 are the keys to leading a happier, more fulfilled life―and succeeding at a high level.
In our busy lives with constant connectedness, technology has changed the pace at which we work. Did you know:
- 3 out of 4 people surveyed admit to texting while driving. (Please stop.)
- 39% say they wait for a red light before texting.
- 26% of car accidents are caused by phone usage. (See first bullet point!)
- 61% of people sleep with their phone next to their bed or under their pillows.
- People check their phones, on average, 110 times a day.
- 20% of people, between the ages of 18-34 have admitted to using their phones while being intimate. (Now that's not paying attention to what's important!)
- While on vacation, 44% of people admit to checking their work email.
Really? I'm the first to tell you that I love technology and have quite the crush on my iPhone, but the whole 24/7 thing is creating a vacuum of time that you simply can't get back. It seems that entrepreneurs think we need to be constantly connected. Well, we do ... and we don't!
When I'm asked to share on this topic with audiences, I start by changing the narrative. I believe work-life integration―rather than balance―is a difference-maker. To accomplish this, we focus on three areas: your environment, emotions and expectations.
How long you work today, how much downtime you want to budget, and how much you commit to different areas of your life are all your choices to make daily (that's one of the biggest benefits of being an entrepreneur). There will always be commitments, obligations, proposals to write, to-do list items that must be done. We all get 24 hours in a day. So, let's look at how you can turn up your attention during that time in these three important areas:
Environment: Create the environment you want. Add components to your professional space that fuel your energy, creativity and productivity. That could mean fresh flowers, positive messages, or an ergonomic workstation. At home, consider your living and sleeping spaces as well. What can you do to re-energize those environments to help nourish the life you want to live?
Emotions: Step one―give up the guilt and worry! Guilt and worry are both such wasted emotions, and the entrepreneurs 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 the opportunities. Celebrate the wins. Choose to see the good and let the rest go. When you release these two mind and energy drains, you'll surprise yourself with how much additional time you 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 plan recovery time in 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 entrepreneurs who want to get more done and achieve work-life integration
Take 15: Each day, invest 15 minutes in an activity that will help you feel more in control of your environment, emotions and expectations.
Say No. No is a full sentence and one that most people need to lovingly practice more in their lives. When you say no to the things you don't want, you say yes to what's important. It also eliminates distractions, putting you on a path to become 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, it's fairly hard to knock it out of the park. The good news is the reverse is true. When you're exceptionally clear on what you want, where you're headed, what your highest vision is, and which things are powerfully important to you―you can't lose.
And lastly, (ironically), put first things first: If you're not healthy, happy and looking after yourself, you'll never be your best for your company, clients or family. 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: exercise, meditation, quiet time, reading, self-development―or all of the above!
I wish you great success on your journey to leave those scales of time equity in the dust and create the life you've always imagined!