Work Life Balance Made Simple
Suri E. Poulos
The difficulty in achieving good work life
balance is that there is more to do than there is time in a day to do
it. The simple answer is to discover a way to insert more hours in
each day. However, since no one has cracked that one yet, the next
solution is to focus on making sure you do the important things with
the limited time you have.
Children in our MindLab classes learn a
very useful tool which can help you focus and prioritise your time.
Our pupils learn to distinguish between what is trivial - things that
are unimportant and give little value and what is crucial - things
that are extremely important and valuable.
We teach children to apply this
distinguishing tool both to the board game they have just played, and
to their real life situations, in our case, to work life balance.
Firstly decide who are your “customers”
in your working life and in your home life. In your home life I
suggest that your customers are your partner and children. In your
working life, your customers are the people who employ you, such as
your boss, and the people you come into contact with who bring money
into the company, such as the people who buy your companies goods.
The next important step is to decide
what are the activities that would delight your customers. These are
the crucial activities you should make time for.
For example in your family life crucial
activities the delight your customers might include:
Sitting down and chatting over a nice
meal together as a family
Asking your “customers” what they think
and how they feel, and listening and responding sensitively.
Doing activities together that your
“customers” enjoy and which encourage laughter, communication and
Similarly use this tool to identify
what is trivial in terms of delighting your “customers” at home. Think
of the many activities you spend time on in your family life that your
“customers” don’t notice or care about, such as cleaning, or washing
up after a meal. Clearly these are necessary activities. However, now
that you have identified that they are trivial to delighting your
customers, you should look for smarter and less time consuming ways to
Here are a few ideas:
Cleaning – dust and mop less often.
Splurge on a cleaner every two weeks. Ask your family to share the
responsibility by tidying up after themselves. Children can be asked
to make their beds and keep their rooms tidy from a very early age.
Grocery shopping – use delivery
services now available from all the national stores; it saves a huge
amount of time.
Driving – organise more carpools for
school pick ups, after school activities and birthday parties. Look
into more local activities your children can walk to themselves.
Laundry – do shirts really need to be
ironed? You’d be amazed what water spritzed onto a hanging shirt can
do. Enlist older family members to help with the laundry, my children
love to earn pocket money by folding and putting away clothes.
Cooking – can you share the job with
your partner? Develop family menus that are healthy but take minimal
time to prepare. Older children can help with the cooking and learn
some valuable life skills at the same time.
Dishes – in our family all the mealtime
tasks are divided between the children and rotated weekly, such as
emptying the dishwasher setting the table, clearing the table and
filling the dishwasher. Our youngest took his place on the chore rota
when he was four.
The next step is to look at your
working life using the same tool.
1. Create a list of your “customers” in
your working life.
2. Create a list of the activities that
delight your customers – that is your crucial list which you should
focus and spend time on.
3. Create a list of all the activities
you currently spend time on that aren’t on your crucial list. This is
your trivial list.
4. Put some creative energy, even
brainstorm ideas with a colleague, to come up with a variety of ways
for you to reduce the time you spend on trivial activities, delegate
them, or if possible, ignore them entirely.
Once you have put into practice your
ideas of how to spend time on your crucial lists and reduce the time
you spend on your trivial lists, you should find that you have more
time available to you. This “gift” of more time should give you more
control and balance in your life.
You should also find that you are
spending time on the right activities and experiencing a more
satisfying family life and a more successful working life.
Suri Poulos, Managing Director of
MindLab Europe, is an American by birth and has lived in the
U.K. for over 21 years. She has an MSc. in Counselling and
Psychotherapy, a Masters of Business Administration and a
Bachelors of Fine Arts.
Suri co-founded the consultancy, Poulos & Partners (http://www.poulosandpartners.com)
In 2003 Suri and her husband
Darrel and launched MindLab Europe (http://www.mindlabeurope.com)
in order to give children the same life enhancing skills and
personal development they had provided adults in their
successful consultancy practice. MindLab franchisees run a
highly successful after-school programme which uses board
games from around the world to develop children’s thinking,
problem-solving and interpersonal skills. The focus is to have
fun yet MindLab also helps children to build better personal
relationships, improve scholastically, and relate and
cooperate with others. MindLab creates a positive outcome for
parents, teachers, schools and kids alike.
Over 1,000,000 students in 22
countries internationally have benefited from the MindLab