Today’s southern man is pulled in many directions and as the saying goes, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Here are 5 tips to make both work and play a little less stressful.
Modern life is hectic. Very hectic! The modern, southern man, has more demands on his time than ever before, and keeping on top of everything can be nearly impossible.
We are often told how important it is to have a good work-life balance, but while that’s good in theory, putting it into practice is tough. Everyone wants to get ahead in their career, and modern technology means we are increasingly expected to keep an eye on work emails and social media accounts at all hours of the day and night.
If you want to be successful in your career, especially if you happen to run your own business, that means putting in the hours. But what about all those other demands on your time?
Everyone needs a social life, and an opportunity to unwind, whether that time is spent relaxing, playing sports and exercising, or indulging an interest or hobby. And many careers also require you to spend time socializing, either with clients or colleagues, or even traveling around the world as well.
But at the same time, the modern husband and father is expected to play a full role in family life, and commit time to bringing up the children and contributing to tasks around the home. If you still happen to be single, there is a need to be dating, and wining and dining that girl who might just be the one.
The pressures to get ahead in your career, be a good family man and have a little time to yourself as well can get too much for some. But with a little smart thinking, it doesn’t have to be as hard as it might at first appear. Because while modern life brings with it plenty of pressures, it has also brought with it a wide variety of tools and solutions to help the smart, quick-thinking man get ahead — and still have a few hours in the day to sleep as well.
And that’s what this article is all about. As a modern, 21st century man, who runs several businesses, I have had to be smart and savvy to find that work-life balance we all crave. And I have put together my top 5 lessons you need to learn to better manage your business and your life.
1. “MONEY IS TIME”
“Time is money” goes the old adage, which many a boss has used to pressure his staff to work faster and faster. But to my mind the opposite is the case: money is time.
What I mean by that is, there are only a finite number of hours in the day and it is sometimes sensible and necessary to spend a little money in order to free up some of your valuable time. The example I always use to illustrate this is hiring a virtual assistant.
If you are not familiar with virtual assistants, they are self-employed individuals who offer assistance with various work-related tasks, usually administrative, on the internet. They work from home, communicating with you via email, messaging services, or Skype calls, and can handle either a full-time, part-time, or ad hoc workload depending on your individual needs.
A virtual assistant might be used to help you with basic admin tasks, marketing and sales work, web development and content writing, IT tasks, and a variety of other jobs which have to be done, but which you don’t necessarily have to do personally.
Paying for a virtual assistant can free up valuable time to spend on other essential work tasks, to give you that little bit of family time, or to free you up to have a little social time, without those frequent guilty glances at your smartphone.
2. “HEALTH IS WEALTH”
It might just sound like a catchy phrase, but I am speaking from personal experience here when I say that staying fit and healthy is vital to being successful in business, and it is well worth committing time to ensuring you do exercise and stay in shape.
I am not what you might call a natural athlete, and working in the IT sector means I spend a lot of my day sitting at my desk using my computer. It is all too easy to get out of shape fast in a role like mine.
But then I discovered CrossFit, and since taking it up, it has without question improved all aspects of my life. It is a fitness regime that brings together the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and many more besides.
Since taking it up, I have never been physically fitter, and there is no question that being more physically fit has also made me mentally sharper, as well as giving me bucket-loads of energy too. This has made me more productive in my work and allowed me to commit longer hours without sacrificing that precious family and social time.
It is the best decision I have ever made, and I strongly recommend that, regardless of your physical condition, you spend a little time and money on an exercise regime. It will improve all aspects of your life.
3. SELF-HELP CAN HARM
Self-help is inherently a good thing. Seeking to improve yourself is, of course, something to be applauded, and it seems these days like everyone and their grandmother is in the midst of a self-improvement drive of one kind or another. But beware, because self-help can become self-defeating too.
It is all too easy to get sucked into the vast array of self-help resources out there and never emerge. Whether you are using books, blogs, videos, seminars, or podcasts, there are thousands of resources out there that offer to help you find a new, better you.
And it is easy to find yourself spending more and more time reading and absorbing advice, without actually taking any firm steps to put what you are reading into practice. Much of the advice you will find is common sense stuff that tells you things you already know — if you are being honest with yourself.
But if you do want to go down the self-help route, pick one and stick with it. And be sure to follow up on what you learn with action. Always remember, action is the ultimate power. And if you feel the changes you are making are not working, don’t be afraid to give up on them. Always be honest with yourself.
4. WORKING SMART > WORKING HARD
If you work in an office, there is likely to be a regime of procedures in place that tell you how to do your job. In many companies, this will be an old-fashioned and outdated approach to working.
Because today there are countless online tools to help make you more efficient and more productive with your time. Don’t be afraid to make use of them.
For example, using a simple production-monitoring tool like Trello for business and personal tasks lets you and others keep on top of what you have to do, and also be aware of what colleagues are working on as well, whether you are together in the same office or based elsewhere in the world.
Using a VPN to access online services, websites, and shared data that might otherwise be unavailable to you, securely and privately, no matter where you are, is also a no-brainer. It also allows you to maximize the use of your smartphone, tablet, and other devices that many of us are issued with but often don’t use to their full potential.
Not all solutions have to be online ones, either. For example, keeping a tidy and organized office or workspace can help save valuable time when you need to find that important document or you have tight deadlines to meet.
It’s not rocket science, but there are so many simple solutions that can be employed that can make you a better, more productive worker, and also help free up time for the other things that are important.
5. LOVE, LIKE LIFE, IS SHORT; PLAN LIKE LIFE IS LONG
Without wanting to end on a downbeat note, life is short, and there are lots of important things you will need to do along the way. This makes planning essential, and when it comes to planning, it is best to think long-term.
For example, when looking at financial planning, it is always best to think about the future, rather than use your money for short-term gains and spending on the here and now. Planning proper investments and pensions, and getting the right financial advice now, is vital both for you in your old age, and for your children’s future as well. You don’t want to work hard all your life without leaving anything tangible for them at the end of it.
But having said that, it is also important to live life in the present and embrace the day. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks if there is a benefit to be had, and make sure your attitude is focused on the here and now. Because while t it’s important to plan for tomorrow, don’t forget that life could be over at any moment. This may sound contradictory, but it actually isn’t. It is a hard lesson to learn, but once you find that internal balance of planning smart for the future without sacrificing enjoyment of the present moment, you’ll find constant gratitude in the “big” and “small” wins of day-to-day life.