Finding Work-Life Balance

Photo Courtesy Fabio Bruna
Photo Courtesy Fabio Bruna

It’s a Sunday morning and I sitting in our home office. Earlier this morning I found an article on LinkedIn talking about the things you should do on Sunday to get ahead at work. The article made me think: why do we work so much and why would we work when we don’t need to?

I shared the article on Google+ and got some interesting feedback from people there. Some of them were remarking that work gives you purpose and you should do whatever it takes to be more productive so you can live a more meaningful life. Others recalled stories of workaholics that saved away for lavish retirements only to be stricken with cancer before they could enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Just like everything else, I think people need to seek balance with their work and life. Often times we talk about the “work life balance” but how many of us actually try to practice such a thing? We speak of it from a tangent as a way to justify an extra day off or with spite when talking about our mobile phones that alert us even during our times away from the office. How many of us actually work towards achieving a work-life balance though?

In my workplace I see people that leave consistently at 5 PM every day while others toil until the wee hours of the night, sometimes not leaving the office until midnight. Generally, these people share the same workload, so why does it take some so much longer than others?

Not everyone has the same proficiency with computers. Not everyone has stellar time management skills. Not everyone double or triple checks their work when they get done. We all have different ways of approaching our workload, regardless of how much work we have. Some of us are gifted with shortcuts while others have the take the long way to getting certain things done.

Because most of our work involves technology, those of us from the millennial generation have the upper hand. From a young age we were given a better understanding of the ins and outs of personal computing. A lot of us took computer programming before we even left high school which gave us the concepts of computing more efficiently. From just that grasp of a concept we can quickly create complicated spreadsheets, e-mail filters, rules and macros to help us streamline our workflow and spend less time doing redundant or menial tasks.

Older generations, or less technically-inclined co-workers don’t have those advantages and are usually left to take the “long way” to getting things done. Sure, we could share these tools, concepts and shortcuts, but without the core concepts that we were taught at such a young age, others won’t be able to formulate their own solutions to time-consuming tasks.

Instead of working harder, we should all focus on working smarter. Some of us have advantages that others don’t, but we should recognize those advantages and share what we can with others to improve their efficiency. The smarter we work, the more we can move forward.

For all of those things that take so much time, there is probably an easier way to do them. Perhaps if we all worked together we could find, implement and share solutions to make all of our work a little more easier. Then, with that extra time, we could do what we were put here to do: live.

Now that’s what I call work-life balance.

 

 

Getting Back In Control

If you’re like me, you’re burning the candle form 17 different ends. You have a professional career which eats up most of your time, family spread across the country, weekends filled with social engagements and a million things on your to-do list. Or maybe you just have too much going on and feel like you can’t get things under control.

Image Courtesy of Jutta under Creative Commons 3.0
Image Courtesy of Jutta under Creative Commons 3.0

The biggest desire for me is to keep control of my destiny and ensure that I am doing what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be filing reports that no one will read. I don’t want to be wrapped up in deadlines that don’t have any impact on my employer’s business. I want a purpose in every one of my actions.

In order to pursue what we love doing outside of our regular jobs, we have to make a lot of sacrifices. Whether it is staying up a few hours later each night, not being so lazy on our weekends or forgoing social opportunities to engage in our other business interests.

The bottom line: being a part-time entrepreneur isn’t easy.

If you neglect your e-mail for a few days, don’t return a phone call or suddenly find yourself not engaging with the people that can help make you successful it can become overwhelming very quickly.

I’ll be honest, I have been struggling with focusing on my entrepreneurial aspirations while balancing my day job, time with loved ones and just “zoning out.” The implications of changes at my day job have been draining and it has been so easy to just get home and veg out as much as possible. It almost seems like a defense mechanism of our bodies, to just let our minds release all of the tension that envelops us and to find relaxation in something that requires no thought or consideration (television is an excellent example).

However, as rewarding as that temporary distraction might be; as good as you might feel sitting and doing nothing, it will only make matters worse when you try to get everything back under control.

Last week I made a spur-of-the-moment decision which has impacted me over the last several days. Immediately after getting my mouth x-rayed to determine how invasive and costly a surgery would be to remove all four of my wisdom teeth, I decided to take the bull by the horns and have the procedure done right there.

It was something that I had been putting off for years.

I was afraid it would hurt. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to afford it and most importantly, I was afraid of the suffering I would endure afterwards.

But, in retrospect, it wasn’t that bad. The procedure took all of about 35 minutes during which I was under heavy sedation. I followed the doctor’s orders and haven’t experienced any pain or swelling. To top it off, after my insurance coverage, it was a fraction of the cost that I thought it would be.

So why did I spend so many months and years worrying about having this done?

It never does us any good to put things off and worry. Sometimes things might feel like getting our teeth pulled, but sometimes getting our teeth pulled really isn’t that bad. In fact, it’s good for us.

So this weekend, as I enjoy a somewhat limited diet, I’m grabbing the bull by the horns on all fronts. I’m attaching my 1,000+ message inbox, my 22+ Google Voice voicemails and numerous unanswered comments in social media. I’m replacing Google Reader, reinventing the way I post to social media and exploring the idea of a weekly Flipboard magazine.

Keeping up with this world of constantly changing and improving technology can be a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of work. The longer you stay out of practice, the longer you will have to spend catching up.

Just a few weeks ago I renewed my passion for what I do online by speaking at a local SEO Meetup. I was challenged by some of the questions in the audience, but refreshed by everyone’s curiosity. I knew after that class that what I am doing is what I love and there is no reason I should be doing something else.

So now, with that renewed passion I am heading back into the sea of notifications, plowing my way through and plotting my continual course to success. No, it’s not a straight line, and it might not be the fastest way to get there, but if we stop dead in our tracks, we’ll never make it.

In order to succeed in what you love doing, you need to be relentless. You need to beg your loved ones to encourage you. You need to immerse yourself in whatever it is that you love. You need to know it, love it and breathe it. You need to exercise your passion every chance you get.

When you decide to get things back under control, start small. Evaluate what it is that you need to accomplish: write a list. Using tools like Evernote and Google Keep can help you sort out your priorities and keep focus of your goals. If you ever feel like you are drowning, get back to your list, remember why you are pursuing your passion and figure out what you need to do to start treading water again.

Once you take a deep breath and dive in, you will immediately remember why you love chasing whatever dream you’re after.

Embracing Failure: Why Learning How to Fail Will Help You Succeed

Old Flying Machine
Old Flying Machine

One of the biggest things I have learned over the past few months is how important it is to fail. You can read about it from so many prominent authors, and hear about it from so many successfully people, but it won’t start to make sense until you start to embrace your failures.

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Why Google Needs a Better Set of Controls

photo by Dominique Huet
photo by Dominique Huet

GMail, Google Docs, Blogger, YouTube, Google+, the list of products seems almost endless, and odds are if you are a power user of one, you use many of them.

Over the last several years Google has been adding to the list of its publicly available product and moving people’s workflow to the cloud. Successful businesses are now being started with the simple power of tools like GMail, Google Docs, Google Sites and AdSense.

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How to Do Almost Anything on Google+

Over the last several months I have spent a lot of time coming up with ways to use Google+ for your business, organization or personal brand. There are lots of things that I have shared and some that many people have had helpful.

From using the Hangout feature, to developing your own page or determining how people enjoy using certain features through the research I have conducted. There is a list that I have maintained on my profile page that contains most of the important information I have shared with the community. I have offered all of this information and follow-up conversation with anyone that was interested at absolutely no cost.

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