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The Elusive Work-Life Balance

What kind of legacy will you be leaving behind? Bart and Matthew fly solo this week to get into the elusive work-life balance. Their conversation goes way beyond the basic talk of time management and turning off your smartphone to reflect on the best habits for living a productive, meaningful life.

They're not gurus. They're just trying to make it like you are. As fathers, husbands and professionals, they've just happened upon some helpful nuggets that are helping them be more productive individuals—what could be missed while going after the cheddar.

Balance for Yourself: If you are not taking care of yourself, how can you be expected to take care of others or pursue other endeavors? As Matthew says, "You can't give what you don't have." So, if you're sleep-deprived or over-worked, there's a chance that your pursuits are going to be in vain. Cover the basics: eat healthy, exercise, made time for solitude and fulfill your intellectual needs. This is a tough when you feel time is limited, but your efforts will be more fruitful if you work on filling your own "bucket" first. (You might try out "How Full is Your Bucket?" by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. to learn more about the emotional buckets that people have.)

Learn to Say No: Bart emphasizes that you have a powerful ability to say "no". It's something that most people hate saying, especially when you're invited to a social event or a family member needs a hand. However, if you're already maxed out or your proverbial plate is full, then "no" can alleviate a lot of undue stress and allow you to maintain the control and balance that you seek. (This Huffington Post article gives you 7 ways to tell someone "no" when you know you need to put yourself first.) In the workplace, this isn't so easy, especially when you're talking to your boss, but expressing the need for additional time or resources is a healthy thing to discuss. As a leader, having that "open door" for their employees is critical, just as vital as keeping a realistic expectation for the team and their responsibilities based on the goals that you have in mind for the organization. Walking the walk is also key; if you are advocating for work-life balance as a corporate leader, then be sure that you are demonstrating those behaviors in your day-to-day activities.

Don't Let Your Finances Manage You: Especially in the U.S., success is often determined by how much money you make and therefore how big your boat is or how often you travel. And when it comes down to it, these things can be enriching for your life, but does it all come at the cost of limiting time with family or being distracted from your wellness? Our jobs can hold us captive if we let them. Stress from your intense desire to make money (which requires more of your time and energy) can be extremely detrimental to your health. The American Heart Association has excellent resources that educate us on how stress can manifest itself in our physical and mental wellbeing.

Make Use of Your Time: There is always room for improvement when it comes to time management. Downtime is important, but how are you spending that time? Is it playing a game on your phone or is it playing with your dog? Is it surfing Facebook or is it tuning into a motivational podcast?

Here are some other time-saving tips:

Never touch something more than once: Whether it's an email or a file, touch it once, handle it and move on.

Take a break: Lunch isn't your only time to take a breather. Take a lap around the building; go fill up your water bottle; do a few push-ups or jumping jacks. All of them help break the tension that can build up from sitting in one place for too long.

Tune out the static: Don't totally disengage, but maybe try out some noise-cancelling headphones to cut out the din around you. Sometimes, it can help you get hyper-focused—it just depends on what works for you!

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