Find speakers by:
Request more info

Three Actions To Improve Your Work-Life Balance

Three Actions To Improve Your Work-Life Balance

A Harvard MBA, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning blogger, and one of the most popular TED speakers in the world, Neil Pasricha is “a pied piper of happiness”* who dazzles audiences with ideas and frameworks that skyrocket happiness into the stratosphere. With infectious enthusiasm, heartfelt authenticity, and a “what works” authority, Pasricha draws on the latest research in happiness to increase individual performance and create a more positive and productive workplace. In this column for The Toronto Star, Neil explains how to “split up your buckets” to create a better work-life balance:

Unicorns, centaurs, work-life balance.

Is it just me or do we talk about them all like mythical creatures to be drawn in children’s books and discussed on conference panels but never truly spotted in the wild?

I say it’s time to use three simple little ideas to nudge us all into stronger work-life balance each week:

1. Know what you’re spending your third bucket on.

We all have 168 hours a week. You, me, Justin Trudeau, Michele Romanow, Kevin Pillar and Editor of the Star. No more. No less. The richest man in the world can’t buy more time. It’s not for sale. And if you split up that 168-hour bucket you get three smaller buckets of 56 hours each. Most of us aim for eight hours of sleep a night. That’s 56 hours. Most of us work eight hours a day and take extra work home on evenings and weekends. Another 56 hours. But what we often forget is those two buckets create, justify and pay for a third bucket.

The last bucket is your fun bucket. Your anything-you-want bucket. This is a valuable bucket! Whether it’s the marathon you’re training for, the book you’re writing, the kids you’re raising or the ship you’re sailing, the point is to simply know and articulate how you’re filling this bucket to yourself. For years my fun bucket was writing awesome things on my blog. I did that after work every night. So what’s your third bucket? Because it’s harder to leave work if you don’t know where you’re going.

2. Create 30-second interventions.

We often talk about work-life balance philosophically when we should just talk about it physically. What represents your work in your home? For most people it’s their work cellphone. That’s where the emails ping all evening. So what’s the solution? Leave your cellphone in your car after you park at home. It’s still there! Don’t worry! You can check if you need to. But you’ve created a 30-second barrier to work. It’s now a little extra effort to check those emails. You have to put your shoes on and go outside. As a result, you don’t mindlessly skim your phone while making dinner or after putting the kids to bed. A little barrier to work creates much-needed space for life.

3. Do emails only twice a day.

Email is the little paper-cut we slice our fingers on every few minutes throughout the day. McKinsey reported that office workers spend 28 per cent of their day on email. Almost a third. And Baydin, one of the world’s largest email management services, says the average person gets 147 emails a day. And what’s missing from these simple numbers? A lot.

“People in a work setting,” says psychologist David Meyer of the University of Michigan, “who are banging away on word processors at the same time they have to answer phones and talk to their co-workers or bosses — they’re doing switches all the time. Not being able to concentrate for, say, tens of minutes at a time may mean it’s costing a company as much as 20 to 40 per cent in terms of potential efficiency lost, or the ‘time cost’ of switching … In effect, you’ve got writer’s block briefly as you go from one task to another. You’ve got to a) want to switch tasks, you’ve got to b) make the switch, and then you’ve got to c) get warmed back up on what you’re doing.”

So what’s the solution? Check your email twice a day: once from 9-10 a.m. and again from 4-5 p.m. It’s a simple way to create a six-hour email free oasis in the middle of the day. Shut down Outlook or Gmail completely and enjoy some deep work. Most people find they get so much more done they have less to take home. And a free app that can enable this behaviour is Momentum, which opens every new browser tab with a beautiful image together with your daily focus.

Work-life balance doesn’t have to be a unicorn or centaur anymore.

Just know what you’re spending your third bucket on, create 30-second interventions to work and do emails only twice a day.

Let these three simple actions bring real balance a little closer … one day at a time.

Neil Pasricha/Toronto Star/June, 2017