If someone tells you they have the secret to achieving work/life harmony, they’re lying (and probably trying to charge you a lot for the privilege!). The fact is, there is no secret sauce for balancing a career, a family, a personal life and some me-time. It is a juggling act always; the trick is finding a solution that works for you to help you achieve your 2020 priorities while making life manageable and enjoyable at the same time. Keep reading to see my top 5 priorities for this year!
One personal priority is all around managing energy, not time. So instead of clock watching and putting unnecessary deadlines on myself – dinner needs to be on the table for 6pm, I’m going to work on this report for the next two hours and so on - I work based on my energy. You need to be fairly self-aware to make this work, but it all centres around optimising your individual self. So, I know that if I haven’t got the right energy, I need to make a shift to achieve flow and be the best version of myself. Whether it’s sleep, food, a walk or some yoga, I focus on making sure I manage my energy effectively to achieve what I need on a daily basis. Listen to yourself; if you didn’t sleep because your 1 year old had you up in the night, you probably aren’t in the best frame of mind to be crunching numbers with your finance team. Yes, this isn’t realistic all the time, especially if there are other, different energies in your business and your life, but it certainly helps to motivate and focus me to be as good as I can be.
We’ve all heard the old adage that it is a busy world, getting busier, but it’s actually worth remembering that you don’t necessarily need to keep up that pace. Technology has caused as many problems as it solves, one of which is that you are always connected. You need time to switch off, and a buzzing phone or an Instagram feed prevents that from happening, no matter how relaxing you think it is to sit scrolling of an evening. The light from your device stimulates your brain, so even though it might seem like the right thing to do before bed, it will not help you sleep and doesn’t give you a second to pause and think.
Having a young child is a factor that forces you off your phone and to be present in the moment. There are few things more joyful than my happy little boy, so I am grateful for him giving me no choice but to be mindful and in the moment. If you need help, one great little quick fix can be to have a special box or container where you put your phone for an hour a day. By having it shut away in another room, you are forced into the present and to let your mind think. Try and just be, no screens, no noise, no people. You’ll be amazed at the clarity it brings you.
The fact is, as well as a mum, I’m also a business owner. With that comes a whole heap of responsibilities and stresses. One of my major focusses for this year is growing this fantastic business support organisation. We’ve come a long way since I started SmartPA round my kitchen table, but this feels like our year and I can’t wait to reflect at the end of 2020 across our virtual assistants and the SmartPA team have achieved for our happy clients.
As MD, I’m not only responsible for the personal development of my team but also for myself. This year we will be doing plenty of learning on leadership, being visionaries and how to be the best versions of ourselves each and every day. A lot of people make the (incorrect) assumption that once you reach a certain height in your career or a certain age, there is nothing left to learn, only things to teach. While I take great joy in imparting the knowledge I have accumulated on admin support and back-office help over my career, the fact is we are all still learning and should embrace that. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to learn something tomorrow that will increase your productivity, or save you money? Remember, just as youth is no guarantee of innovation, age is no guarantee of wisdom. You should never rest on your laurels, and it is never too late to learn something new.
My final priority is happiness. Again, it is a fallacy that people can be happy all the time, but I do believe you can choose happiness. It’s very easy to get bogged down in stresses and worries and forget about the blessings and the beautiful things in life. Choosing to focus on these positives is key to deciding to be happy. In one of my favourite films About Time, there is a scene at the end where the main character lives every day twice, the first as normal and the second taking the time to notice all the fantastic things in the world; not getting annoyed by the loud music of the passenger next to you on the train, but enjoying it. Not rushing from meeting to meeting but taking a moment to marvel at your surroundings. So, it may seem a bit vague and new age-y, but it is one priority I am determined to focus on this year.
Have a productive, successful and ultimately happy 2020!