I’m a fan of Feld Thoughts and recommend that you check it out if you don’t already read it. Although the content is sometimes over my head in financial lingo, I enjoy the insights I can glean from it. My favorite past post is where Feld describes mission statements as “vapid phrases that don’t inspire anything (except internal contempt)” and so adopted the motto “We Suck Less” where “Our goal in working with you is to suck less than the last guy that was here.” More places should strive for such clarity.

Recently, Feld posted about discovering work-life balance. I know what you’re thinking – “I’ve heard that a million times already!” Even so, it was nice to see how one person coped with the ever-elusive goal of having better balance. Most people tend to not understand that we all have a balance in our lives (whether we want one or not), it just might not be the balance that works right. Every day contains 100% of a day. No one ever gets a 110% day. Therefore, we all slice up that 100% into some mixture of work, home life, sleeping, eating, pooping, etc. We have no choice, it’s inevitable.

What I’ve learned recently is that we all have to pick what we spend our time on but, unfortunately, we don’t often choose wisely. I have spent too many years (decades!) putting everything else first: work, study, home, spouse, kids… Now, after too much stress and work, I realize I need to reapportion my time and effort. With that, I was able to connect to Feld’s thoughts on work/life balance because I feel the same pressures and needs he did (although he was only 34 at the time — I wish I had realized this earlier).

Feld writes that he discovered his own set of habits by which he realigned his work/life balance including:

  1. Spend Time Away – he takes a regular vacation;
  2. Life Dinner – they have a standing date on the first day of every month;
  3. Segment Space – have separate and distinct spaces for work and home life;
  4. Be Present in the moment to the other person; and
  5. Meditate – that is, do whatever you want, but spend some of your time on yourself.

These habits won’t work for everyone — his Spend Time Away means that Feld and his spouse take a week long vacation each quarter. The average worker in the U.S. gets just 12 vacation days a year (compared with 27 for Germans and a whopping 39 for the French). A 2000 report showed that American workers spent the equivalent of almost a full month more per year on the job than they did in 1967. Also, in Segmenting Space, Feld splits his time between a home in Boulder and a home in Alaska. Clearly, Feld has more time and money than I do.

That being said, each of us can come up with our own set of habits and learn to better appropriate time between work and self. And it isn’t about finding time but about making time, which is worth doing because regularly spending some of your time on yourself makes you a better person during all the remaining hours of the day. It can make your work and your life much more rewarding. By making time to just enjoy yourself, you get more done overall. If you take time for yourself, even though it makes you ‘busier,’ it’s fulfilling. It gives you energy, brainpower, a sense of self-fulfillment that helps you perform in every other area of your life. You get more done in less time the rest of the week.

Below are some tips I picked up from Bicycling Magazine for making time for yourself:

  1. Get a buddy to do things together.
  2. Get a babysitter when you need time – you’re worth it.
  3. Make an appointment to take time for yourself at least once a week – put it in your Outlook or PDA.
  4. Eliminate a TV show out of your life.
  5. Pounce on an opportunity to take time for yourself when a window unexpectedly opens.

Now get to it.

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