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Work/Life Balance Is a Myth

Work Life Balance is a myth. Steps to get your life and calendar under control.

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I think it’s a mistake and a waste of time to put energy into finding a balance of “work” and “life.” I recently read a great article about the myth of work/life balance on the Relevant Magazine website. I like what the author, Tyler Ward, wrote about the flow and seasons of creation and about all other natural rhythms.

So what should people do when they feel overwhelmed? What should exhausted people do to get what they want, which is really control and peace. They often think that if they strike the right balance in their schedule, all their problems will go away.

Tips and Suggestions

 

  • Master the Word No  I’m a recovering people pleaser. Actually, that’s a myth also. I’m a recovering “I’ll say yes so you’ll think I’m awesome, feel validated as a person, and be my friend” person. I used to refuse to believe that time was a limiting factor on me, but it is—for all of us. Now, when I’m asked to do something new or to help someone, I say no. I’ll say something like this:
    • Thank you for asking me. I’m honored you think this highly of me. Possibly one day I’ll be able to say yes, but today I need to say no. My calendar is full for the foreseeable future.
    • Can I help you think of someone else you might ask? I simply can’t yes at this time.
    • Would you ask me again in one year? I can’t say yes right now.
    • I appreciate you asking me. I know when I ask someone to help me with something like this, I’m afraid they will get annoyed. Me—I’m not annoyed at all; in fact, I’m honored. I wish I could say yes. How can I help you find someone to take this on?
    • Notice, I never say “but” or “however.” I let my no be no. I used to give long, drawn-out explanations. I don’t anymore. And if someone doesn’t respect me or my no, they probably wouldn’t have genuinely appreciated my help in the first place.

 

  • Get a Task-Management System  Whatever system you will actually utilize is the system you should use. If a calendar system with everything on it works, use it. I work with a lady who still carries a large planner. It’s full of notes, business cards, her calendar, and who-else-but-her knows. But it works for her. I experimented with all sorts of systems. For the longest time I used Siri and multiple different lists in my Reminders app on my iPhone. But then I read Getting Things Done by David Allen. I combined his methodology with Evernote and Nozbe.  This combinations has been the system that has saved my bacon and brought order to the chaos of my tasks and schedule.

 

  • Delegate Decision Making  I first wrote about this here. A young leader once told me she is great at delegating tasks but terrible at delegating decisions. I identified with that, because it’s true for me as well.  I don’t need to be the gatekeeper whom all decisions must pass through. I still sweat the small stuff and have the pulse, blood pressure, temperature, CBC count, and all the other vitals of our organization in check, but I simply don’t make a majority of the day-to-day decisions.  Instead, I use a lesson I learned from Dave Ramsey in EntreLeadership. When I have new team members, I have them come to me with three solutions to every problem. After they present the problem and solutions, I let them know which solution I would like and why (even if it’s one of my own). Over time, they begin to anticipate what I’ll decide. After several weeks, I’m comfortable saying, “From now on, just decide this stuff on your own. Keep deciding like you are, but you don’t have to come to me anymore. I trust you.”

 

  • Set Clear Boundaries  I don’t travel away from my family for more than three nights in any 12-month period. I use Skype and attend online conferences like Social Media Summit 2014, webinars, and more. I actually get more continuing education and professional development now then when I’d travel to conferences and events more often. I network with my mastermind group every other week for a couple of hours via Google Hangout. I attend networking lunches and meet with peers for breakfast. I still get the job done, I just make sure I’m at home to get the most important job done—giving my wife and my kids a healthy dose of quality and quantity time together.  My team has been instructed that my wife is put through to my phone whenever she calls, regardless of what I’m doing. She is never told I’m not available.

 

  • Get Your Free Time and Family Time on Your Calendar First  Every few months, I have a calendar meeting with my wife. I try to get every family event on my calendar before I start getting work meetings, speaking engagements, etc added to my calendar.
    • I make sure I schedule time to exercise.
    • I have three recurring appointments to eat three meals a day with plenty of time at each meal to relax.
    • I have a block of time marked as “Family Time” in the evenings so I can play with my kids.
    • I have a block of time scheduled to read.
    • I have blocks of time scheduled to work. I used to try to schedule my work as specific tasks, but I need the flexibility to work on the projects I’m in the mood to work on. This is where Nozbe and the Getting Things Done methodology come into play.
    • I have a lunch or breakfast appointment once a week with one of my kids.
    • We schedule date nights for us.

 

  • Hire Help.  I use oDesk to hire virtual assistants to work for me for only a few hours a week. I wrote a complete post about the benefits here. There is no reason you can’t hire someone to help you, even two to four hours per week, not to free up time to work on something else but to buy you time to be with your family.  Plus, I hire other independent contractors for editing and other work.  I use Fiverr.com in addition to oDesk.

Action Steps

  • Update Your Calendar
  • Read Getting Things Done
  • Check Out Nozbe

What About You

What is working right now for you? Share on Facebook.

Avoid The Biggest Mistake In Setting Goals

The boldness in declaring this The Biggest Mistake in goal setting, is from observations leading several hundred staff and facilitating tens of thousands of people in workshops, conferences, retreats and other personal development experiences in 16 years.

Like many people, I use to have terrible goals. In fact, they weren’t even goals at all.

I had a list of desires I was working towards accomplishing.

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Even using S.M.A.R.T. goals. ((see this post on Top Achievement for great information on setting SMART goals), I didn’t have good goals.  And my forward momentum reflected this.

For example;

  • I had a desire to get married.
  • I have a desire to raise kids that have happy marriages.
  • I have a desire to increase enrollment at events at work.

I’m not saying these are bad things to want. I’m saying I can’t accomplish them as goals.

  • I couldn’t getting married until someone wanted to marry me.
  • I can’t choose my kids spouse, nor can I choose the behaviors and decisions my kids or their spouses will one day make.
  • I can’t make more people come to an event at camp.

My goals use to rely on other people for success.  Which in turn really made them desires.

Now, I have goals for my desires.

Mark Batterson shares in his book, Circle Maker, that we pray as if it depends on God and work as if it depends on us.

For me, my desires are up to God to fulfill and my goals are up to me to accomplish, with God’s help of course.

My desire to get married. Is what I prayed for.
My goal was to better myself to become the person I wanted to marry wanted to marry. This is the work I did. And now I’m married to my best friend and the most beautiful woman of God I know.

My desire for my children to have successful marriages. Is what I pray for.
My goal: When I say, “I love you” to my wife, it’s only after I treat her in a way that shows her I love her; all in front of my kids, everyday. I remind myself daily; more is caught than is taught. This is the work I do.

My desire for increased enrollment at work is what I pray for.
My goal: Increase guest satisfaction at every encounter  by studying evaluations monthly looking for innovative solutions to improve quality of service, experience, communication, facilities and deliverables related to Mission and Core Values.  This is the work I do.

THE IDEA:

We Work Towards Goals, We Pray For Desires

TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS:

  • If you haven’t, write down your goals.
  • Look at your written goals. Do they rely on someone else to accomplish them? If so, re-title your list Desires.
  • Pray hard for your desires, work hard for your goals.
  • Read the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson (affiliate link).
  • Review your Desires and Goals everyday.
  • Are you married? If so, do you and your wife share any desires for your marriage or, if you have any, your children? Pray together and work together. Couples who pray together stay together.
  • ?What other Tips and Suggestions Do You Have? Comment Below

WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW:

  • If you don’t have time to work on this, schedule time on your calendar right now.
  • Write down 1 desire and then write 2 goals for that desire.

RELATED POST:

Thanks For Reading

A Simple Lifehack to Be More Present During Family Time

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I’m writing this post on my iPhone. Why? I guess because it’s about my phone.

I was struggling with a self control issue….nothing new for me.

I struggle to keep my hands, eyes and thoughts off my social media and blog stats.

I love engaging with my online community.

Plus, we are trying to expand our online community. My wife, and I have a big project we are putting together. It will help parents have more fun in their parenting, make family fun easier and equip parents with tools to build their children’s character. (I can’t wait to tell you more about it in the next couple of months)

With all that going on, a full time career I’m dedicated to in Christian camping and conferencing….I need to be completely focused during our family time. I also have a goal to be “unplugged” once a week when I practice the spiritual discipline of a Sabbath.

I had been utterly failing at both of these goals, until recently.

What has been helping…

  1.  Using Do Not Disturb function on iPhone and iPad to turn off notifications from Twitter and my blog Comments.
  2. I created a folder I called iFamily & iSabbath. I dragged the apps into that folder that I needed to remind myself not to look at during certain times. I was surprised the first several days how many times I grabbed my phone out of habit to check stats, comments, etc.
  3. I don’t open this folder during predetermined times.
  4. I tell my wife when these times are.

If you don’t struggle with self-control.  This will sound silly to you.  But for me, it’s a lifehack I need.

Stay Connected With Your Spouse During The Work Day With This Game

 

My day job has some pretty decent hours to it.

I have to be intentional to keep my priorities in line.  They are pretty simple.

  1. My personal relationship with God.  I start every day at 5am to have time for prayer, reading the Bible and reflection.
  2. My relationship with my wife…more on that in a second.
  3. My relationship with my kids…starting my day at 5am also gives me time in the evening to play with the kids.
  4. My family and friends…we like to visit…and since we don’t have TV and my parents do, we tend to visit them a good bit, lol.
  5. My Jobs.  Running Aldersgate.  And, this blog and speaking.

It’s easy for these to start working in reverse order.  I have to be intentional to keep things straight.  Overtime, I do drift out of alignment.  But a bit of focus, and we are back on track.

So, I have to be intentional about my relationship with my wife, Marissa.

One of the thing’s we do is come up with unique ways to communicate and be involved with each other throughout the day.

Here’s a simple quick game we play with our cellphones.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

One of us will start the game by texting…”One Letter Text Game” and then the first letter of a word we are thinking of. The other person text back their guess for that word. The game starter replies, “Nope” and the next letter or “Yep” if the other guesses correct.

Here are a couple rules.

  1. No using Google or other internet sites to help.
  2. You must wait at least one hour to text a reply…after all…we still have work to concentrate on.

Another variation. We will text an extreme close-up picture of something in my office or at home.  The other person has to guess what it is.

We have lots of games like this. Would you like to hear more?

What a variation you can think of?
Whats something you and your spouse do to stay connected throughout the day?

Related Post To Marriage and Family

Why You Should Stop Working On Your Marriage

Homemade Ice Cream…Made With Snow, So Much Fun

 

How I Keep My Email Inbox Empty

 

I’ve been asked numerous times how I manage my email.

It’s a compilation of ideas and tips from several sources.  You might read one of these ideas and say, “Hey, that’s Michael Hyatt’s idea” or “the GTD guy says that.”  I’m not claiming credit for any of the individual ideas.

I hope it’s helpful.

My basic set-up.

I have multiple “non” gmail accounts.  I never check them.  Gmail does it for me.

My work emails are provided through 1and1.

This blogs email is provided through Bluehost.

I have two Gmail accounts.

The first Gmail is a private email that I only use to have my 1and1 work mail account automatically checked via POP3.  I never give this Gmail address out, I only give my branded eric @ campaldersgate dot org email address out for work.

The other Gmail is my personal email.

Each of my Gmail accounts have 1 label (or folder) that I created.  It’s called Needs Processed.

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Here’s how I did that….

In Gmail,

Go to Settings

You can use gmail keyboard shortcuts to move around menus

 

Click on Filters,

How To Get The Most our of Gmail

 

Click on Create New Filter

In Gmail InBox Filters

 

Under “To” put your email address. 

 Screen Shot 2013 01 31 at 6 57 43 AM

 

After you enter your email address, click on Create filter with this search

Screen Shot 2013 01 31 at 7 15 25 AM

 

Check the option: Apply the label.

Then, select the name of your label in the drop down box.

Click on Create Filter.  I would not have the filter automatically applied to all conversation that match this filter.

Screen Shot 2013 01 31 at 7 17 52 AM

 

Repeat for all your email address’s that arrive to this gmail account.

Now, the beautiful thing is, your inbox is always empty..BUT WAIT…this isn’t the end.

The benefit to setting up your Gmail to operate like this is you create a distraction free email area.  When I need to send an email, I open Gmail to an empty inbox.  I can hit c and compose a new email.  If I want to check if a reply has arrived, or for an email I’m waiting for.  I search for it.  No distractions from email while working on tasks.

NOW, IT’S PROCESSING TIME.

Using keyboard shortcuts, I process the Needs Processed label twice per day.  If you don’t use keyboard shortcuts, that’s okay.  But, turning them on and using them saves a lot of time.  I use the same shortcuts in Reader and my Google Calendar.

On the Gmail main screen.  Click on the label you created, should be under your inbox, for me it’s Needs Processed.

Normally, there are several emails I don’t need to open at that moment nor will they require action from me at anytime.  For example, forms submitted on our website to request information on renting the camp.  I don’t need to reply to any of these normally because my Director of Guest Services does.  HOWEVER, if they’re out for the day…I can provide a reply to someone inquiring about renting facilities quickly.  It’s just good customer service.

For these emails that normally don’t require my attention, but that still need to come to me.  I hit j to move to the first message in the list I don’t need to open, hit x to highlight it, then I continue using j to move down and k to move up to messages that I don’t need to open or deal with and highlighting or un-highlighting using x.  Once I have highlighted these emails, I hit y.  This archives them in All Mail, forever.  Now, a search can find them anytime I need them.

If I have mail that I will never need to open ever.  I highlight them and hit Shift 3 to move the item to the trash.

Within seconds I’ve cleaned out several of my emails.

Now, I start at the top of the list of emails.  I use j or k to move to that email.  Hit x to highlight and hit return to open.

If I can reply in less then 2 minutes or take other action to address the email in less then 2 minutes, I do.

If I can’t take immediate action.  I do one of two things.

If I can/should deal with it that day, I write it on my task list.

If I can deal with it another day, I calendar it. Under More (just above the email) I select; Create Event.  You will need a google calendar for this.  I schedule the email as a meeting on my calendar.  I might schedule it for tomorrow or next week.  Just depends on when I need to get to it.  After I deal with it, I archive the email to All Mail.  Again, don’t worry…a quick search and you will find it.  But, on the event on my calendar, is the text of the email for access there.

I do this with every email, in order, no exceptions.  Don’t skip an email and leave it in Needs Processed.

After less then 10 minutes every email is processed.  I have an empty inbox and Needs Processed label.  Nothing is getting missed or following through the cracks.  And, I’m not wasting time re-reading the same subject lines over and over.

Well, I hope this helps.

I’m always looking to improve my system.  If you have alterations, please let me know.

I’d love to hear what your think down in the comments.

“You Are What You _______________” Choose Wisely

A Native American boy asked his grandfather. “Why is it easier for me to do good one day, and the next have great difficulty?” His grandfather replied, “There are two wolves within each of us. They are constantly fighting to be seen. The one you feed is the one who has the strength to be seen.”

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We’ve all heard the saying; garbage in, garbage out. But that’s just for kids, right?

Wrong.

Your behavior grows from your information intake.

You become your information intake.

Behavior equals the quality of information intake multiplied by time.

behavior equation

What people see you do, hear you say and experience when around you is an expression of the sum of everything you’ve gathered inside you.

Some of my favorite places to get quality information:

Blogs:

Podcast:

I have other resources listed here.

 

Evaluate the following for quality

  • The TV shows you watch
  • Music you listen to
  • Podcast and blogs you subscribe to

Questions to ask when you evaluate sources of intake:

  • Does this help me meet my goals?
  • Would I want my kids or staff to read or watch this?
  • Would I share with the world I subscribe to, read or watch this?

And, just to be clear….I’m saying be fanatical about your choices of information.

You can find quality healthy content in the media outlet you enjoy.  If you can’t…create it, others are looking for it as well.

What are some of your favorite blogs, podcast, books and other quality sources of information?

Reading in my email newsletter or your RSS Reader, please comment here.

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