I was surprisingly hesitant to write the last email on the topic of Wintering. I wasn’t sure if the topic would appeal to most readers. Turns out, it was one of the most commented-on issues I’ve written so far!! It seems I am not the only one seeking balance, intention and recharging lately. I even had someone quote my own newsletter to me in a meeting!! (Quite a cool moment, I have to admit!)
So I am taking the plunge again and writing about what is on my mind recently. My Word of the Year: Balance. Something so many of us are striving for, but very few seem to have achieved.
One thing that I believe contributes to a lack of balance is the belief that “work-life balance” is some sort of see-saw with work on one side, and life on the other. As if work and life are mutually exclusive. It’s balance. It’s not a competition.
So I love this quote as it sums that up for me perfectly:
“There is no such thing as work-life balance. It is all life. The balance has to be within you.” – Sadhguru
The balance has to be within YOU. This means being aware of your own goals and needs, and learning to identify when your balance is off.
“I’ve learned that you can’t have everything and do everything at the same time.” – Oprah Winfrey
One of the major culprits of imbalance is what the Harvard Business Review is calling Collaboration Overload. As they write in this article on the subject, “Time spent on the collaborative aspects of work – such as instant messaging, email, and meetings – has exploded by roughly 50% over the past 12 years.”
That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? I mean, isn’t collaboration what we all want? Isn’t this a good thing?? Unfortunately not entirely. While collaboration and team work can, and often do, result in synergies and efficiencies, the amount of work created around collaborating can derail balance.
“Managers don’t typically intentionally overspend financial budgets, but they are overspending their people by asking them to collaborate so broadly and frequently on all forms of work without understanding the true costs.
Our study design was grounded in our prior research showing that priority overload has become one of the biggest derailers of team success. In the organizations that we’ve studied, we’ve found that 49% of employees are experiencing priority overload. Employees are drowning in excessive or misaligned goals set by too many external stakeholders with competing needs and demands.”
Does this sound familiar? As the saying goes, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ and that is what seems to be happening when the balance of collaboration, deep work, and team vs individual needs is out of alignment. Hopefully, becoming aware of Collaboration Overload – and having a name for it – will be the first step in being able to create better balance.
“Balance is not something you find: it’s something you create.” – Jana Kingsford
What we rarely acknowledge is that being continually out of balance can lead to burnout. Burnout is so challenging to see coming, largely because everyone reacts differently to their own imbalance.
So I found this podcast on the 7 Early Signs of Burnout and 10 Simple & Practical Tools To Help to be so informative and helpful!
Dr. Chatterjee’s 7 Signs of Burnout are:
👉 Disconnection – Loneliness has the same negative effect on your body as smoking 15 cigarettes per day!
👉 Emotional exhaustion – this can show up as cynicism or little outbursts of anger
👉 Lack of creativity
👉 An inability to feel pleasure in everyday things
👉 Procrastination – this can also show up as an inability to make decisions
👉 Self-care disappears
👉 Physical exhaustion
Naturally, some of those signs can be symptoms of other things, but nevertheless are helpful in recognizing the potential path you might be on, away from balance.
The suggested 10 steps to improve:
1️⃣ Awareness – this is really the key to moving towards improvement: being aware of how you are actually doing
2️⃣ Intentionally engage with another human being – which correlates to #1 above
3️⃣ Prioritize sleep
4️⃣ Do something you love every day
5️⃣ Get better at saying no
6️⃣ Schedule rest – all the commitments we have for other people are in our calendar. But often we make no diary commitments to ourselves
8️⃣ Pay attention to your food intake
9️⃣ Define the end of your work day – “what does ‘done’ look like today?”
🔟 Define your values. Are you living in alignment with them?
The whole podcast is well worth a listen!! If you are in need of some ideas of how to get and improve your balance, this is such an informative episode!
“Health is built on balance. Balance is built on health. We need to tend carefully and sometimes vigilantly to our mental health.” – Michelle Obama
I really enjoyed Michelle Obama’s new book, The Light We Carry. She is intelligent, articulate, poised, gracious and down-to-earth. Her book had a lot of themes, but central to the book was the theme that we need balance. In our relationships, in our work, in our time, in our health. It was an easy but inspiring read!
And while we’re on the topic of mental & physical health, I think we devote far too little time to sleep. Did you know that being awake for 20 hours has the same cognitive impairment as being legally drunk?! We really underestimate how much balance we need in our awake and asleep time!!
Which is why I have not only been reading before bed lately, but also listening to this yoga nidra meditation, which has really helped me fall and stay asleep. It’s a wonderful way to wind down at the end of the day and restore the balance in my brain and body. Maybe you want to try it, too!
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey
Have you ever wondered why some of your best ideas come to you while in the shower? On a run? Taking a walk on the beach? It’s because when we allow our minds to wander – to not be responsible for a specific task – they are better able to get creative! Allowing our minds to have balance between expected norms and time off gives the mind balance and allows it to react to different stimuli.
Time to seek out the creativity that comes with balance? There are some interesting tips in this Washington Post article!
I tried it myself and ended up finding this amazing account on Instagram that shows you how to fold your clothes efficiently. I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun this was for me! 😉 And I had some great ideas during!! The shower effect in action.
WHAT I’M READING…
Nothing beats organizing while listening to a great audiobook. Seriously, this is my idea of a good time! 😉 I have a subscription to Audible and recently discovered a British police crime series that is included in the subscription. Now I am a huge fan of British police dramas on TV. And British crime novels are just as good. Joy Ellis’ Jackman & Evans series is based in the Fens in and around Lincolnshire, and centers on the cases of Detective Inspector Rowan Jackman and Detective Sergeant Marie Evans. Despite the fact that the stories are a bit gruesome for my taste, the characters are so fascinating and the stories so interesting, that I was hooked from book 1 (The Murderer’s Son). And the narrator is amazing. You all know how much I love a fabulous narrator!! The story becomes almost secondary to the quality of the narration. One of the best parts of a British novel for me is how many different accents there are. Listening to British novels is almost more fun than reading them because all the different accents are represented and Richard Armitage is a superb narrator. He deserves a spot in the ranks of Stephen Fry and Robert Glennister, which is the highest praise I can give! I’m now listening to book 8 – The Night Thief – and am completely hooked as I’m sure you can tell!
You may have noticed that this newsletter did not come out two weeks after the previous edition, but rather three weeks. In the interest of balance, I decided to write the newsletter this week, as last week I was giving a major keynote – the kickoff to a Leadership Excellence series – and my creativity and energy were spent there! I am trying to allot my energy more equally and evenly this year, thus the newsletter this week.
What are your tips and tricks for keeping balance in your life?
Hope you have a relaxing and recharging weekend ahead of you, and wishing you a wonderful February!
Be emotional. Stay healthy!