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Work-life balance is getting a bad rap these days. People say it’s not real – neither achievable nor what we should be striving for.

Personally, I’m not up for a semantic debate. Love it or hate it, the truth is this moment in 2019 is totally draining. Wherever you live in the world, likely you have days that feel post-apocalyptic. Most days I’m just hoping the zombies don’t find me.

The point is – many of us are at a breaking point. We still want to do great work – but we also want to invest ourselves in the work that matters most.

I give a talk called “Balance as a Business Catalyst” which covers (a) the case for balance as a true enabler of business outcomes, and (b) the 5 keys to achieving it.

This moment feels like high time to share. So read on for the steps to achieving balance (and if you need help building the case for balance, please PM me).

Here goes:

1. Prioritize. Yes, I know it’s a dead horse. Yet I still work with countless teams not doing it effectively. So please just ask yourself the following four questions and move on.

  • What work truly must be done (and be real with yourself on this!)?
  • What can be done pass/fail?
  • What can be done by repurposing/collaborating?
  • What isn’t getting done, but would pay off in spades if it were? (i.e., training someone else to do this next time?)

2. Find your gems. Once clear on what needs to be done, now ask yourself what truly must be done by you. Where is the investment of your time most essential? Are you holding onto something because you personally add strategic value (then keep it!), or because you don’t trust someone to do it your way? If the latter, you know what you need to do…

3. Look behind and ahead. Look for patterns, and leverage them accordingly. Does your work happen in cycles? Likely – we all have a busy season – right? Why not look for pockets (ahem – August anyone?) when things will lighten up, and plan use that time strategically to do the important but not urgent. Don’t let yourself be surprised by what we already know is coming.

4. Manage your energy. Another beaten horse, and yet we still struggle to honor this one. It doesn’t have to mean ducking out early for a yoga class. It can be a 5 minute break to read an article on something you’re passionate about. Or Face-timing your kiddos if you won’t make it home to dinner. Stop being a hero. You don’t live in a comic book. No one does their best work drained.

5. Create leverage. It may show up as delegation, collaboration, repurposing… whatever brand of leverage you’re leaning into – own it. Remember your job isn’t to do the work, but to get the work done. And anything you can do to get it done with less expenditure of your own energy is a win.

Anything resonating for you? Have other tips you’ve used successfully? I’d love to hear more…