Happy New Year!
"Getting the most out of life" is not a goal that needs much selling. Most of us would readily admit to not living completely fulfilled lives (whatever that means!), especially those of us suffering from constant work preoccupation (quite often due to that little smart phone in your pocket). Customers, your team, stakeholders, constant email traffic, colleagues ... let's face it, the demands on a manager and leader today do not always foster a healthy work-life balance.
In fact, these days we tend to spend most of the day in reactionary mode dealing with day-to-day work challenges that crop up, rather than being proactive about the work we want to do. This is stressful and frustrating because it takes away people's sense of purpose and causes them to lose sight of the pursuits that energise and attracted them to the role in the first place.
Does any of this sound familiar? If you're looking for a little more balance in your life, know this: finding balance does not necessarily mean working less. Balance is about choice. Doing what fulfills you. That means the freedom to do the work you want to do, rather than the work you have to do.
Here are some tips to help you strike a better balance:
Delegate. Delegation needs to become part of your ongoing behaviour. New work will show up on your desk on a regular basis. If you don't need to deal with it, don't. If it is important that it gets done and someone else can do it, then nine times out of ten you should pass it along. If you're not used to delegating, now is the time to begin. Keep the true value of your time firmly in mind and you will more easily be able to decide if you should or should not be handling the next item in your inbox.
Ensure you have a trusted team. Of course, the more you delegate, the more you'll need to have competent people following through on your behalf. If you don't have a trusted team in place, set out to build one. And always remember that it's your job to clearly communicate what everyone's roles and responsibilities are and to define your expectations.
Create a culture of continuous improvement. Finally, in order to sustain your new well-balanced life, you need to be able to trust that your team is running like a well-oiled machine, whether you're taking off on holiday or escaping to the gym in your lunch hour. You can do this by building a culture of continuous improvement that fosters motivation and growth within your team. Engage your people in the success of your team by sharing your vision and giving everyone a chance to really contribute. And when they do, remember to recognise them.
It may take effort upfront but, if you put these fundamentals in place, you will steadily remove the burden of management from your shoulders and achieve the work-life balance you so desperately crave.