Commentary

A Little Advice On How To Find Balance

I was doing a conference call Sunday on a sunny, warm, happy afternoon in San Francisco from beautiful Land's End, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.  As I stood there, I realized what my business partner (John Durham) says all the time: our worlds are always connected.   Of course that constant connection can be a burden and make it even harder to get things done, as well!

Media connects us no matter where we are.  The Internet and digital media are the focus of almost everything we do these days, connecting us to colleagues and work more of the time than ever before.

Along with the constant connection can come a lack of focus and feelings of distraction.  When you're always available, it can become difficult to be productive because you can't focus your attention on the one thing you need to be doing at that moment.  That sense of distraction comes from an environment of immediate gratification  -- a fact the service business knows all too well.  When you're distracted, it can be difficult to accomplish even simple tasks, like writing an article or drafting a presentation.  In an effort to help spread some sanity, I thought I'd share some of the tools and tricks that I've recently learned to help get through the day!

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Develop boundaries -- especially for email. Email is possibly the best tool for business and the worst.  It never stops coming, and everything in it is a priority.  The only way I can get through my day is to create "time zones" for when I don't respond to email.  There's a chunk of my day everyday where I turn off my email and  just do work.  During those periods, I find my focus is higher and I'm more able to get things accomplished.  It's a simple little trick, but it does wonders for my head.

Go "offline." Another thing I do is I turn email offline for an hour while I'm responding to my inbox.  By responding offline I can focus on the messages I want to be sending, which makes it easier to draft clearer, more tightly written emails. This trick forces me not to respond to multiple emails at the same time, which I do when I'm online and trying to stay ahead of the wave of communications.

Get up. Another trick is to make sure you get up from your desk for lunch.   That doesn't mean you can't eat at your desk, it just means you have to go get your lunch rather than sending someone to do it for you.  By getting up and walking outside for just 10 minutes, you get a break and a fresh perspective.  That perspective will inevitably allow you to see a different solution, which is probably better than what you would have seen without the break.  Sometimes you need a fresh perspective to get things done right!

Turn off. One day a week, unplug 100%.  Pick a Saturday or Sunday, hide your computer, turn off email on your phone, put your iPad away and just "be." Don't worry about the next day or next week.  Go for a hike or a drive.  Go do what you do to be in the moment and recharge.

Your brain needs to recharge in the same way that your laptop battery does.  Your brain is the most important tool that you have to work with and if it gets overloaded, then you can't possibly be successful. 

Over the years, I've read a lot about business and the people that have been successful. Every one of them will tell you about their drive and determination, but the most enviable are the ones that tell you about balance.  Balance is our "Moby Dick": that elusive white whale we all strive for but never quite achieve.   If you don't find some balance, then you'll never be successful. With balance comes focus and with focus comes intelligence.  Be sure to find some of your own tricks for creating balance and unplugging for a bit.  I bet you'll find things will run a lot smoother if you do!

If you have any good suggestions, please let us know!  Comment below.

6 comments about "A Little Advice On How To Find Balance".
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  1. Alison Broomall from Knowledgent Group, May 12, 2010 at 2:29 p.m.

    Excellent advice....thank you for sharing!

  2. Mark Naples from WIT Strategy, May 12, 2010 at 2:42 p.m.

    Yeah - this is one that some of us should frame and put over our desks. "Getting up" for lunch is one that is especially mandatory for me. We would all do well to take our eyes off our screens and stretch every 90 minutes too. Thanks, Cory.

  3. Nettie Hartsock from The Hartsock Agency, May 12, 2010 at 2:44 p.m.

    This is a great article! It's incredibly important to take time off the Web. For all my client proposals I've actually started putting in "All email will be responded to within 24 hours, except for Saturdays/Sundays where Nettie will be in her garden and not in her in-box." And then I ask that the client initial a box next to that!

    loved the article! wonderful!

    Nettie

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 12, 2010 at 2:46 p.m.

    Closed the phone when in the car, in the movies, when at dinner with even one other person or even in a conversation with another person, in a book store or in a museum. On top of edifying your own self realization, you will be showing and teaching your children one of the most important lessons they will ever learn and from which you will benefit - MANNERS. One of the most wonderful tools ever invented, besides the delete key, is voice mail.

  5. Rosanne Gain from Gain - Stovall, Inc., May 12, 2010 at 4:30 p.m.

    Very good article. I also liked the comments from other readers. Actually, I wrote an article for a local Business newspaper called "Staycations for the self-employed" with ideas of how to get away from the office, especially if you work in a home office - which my husband and I do. The other points I would add:
    Play tourist – We live in Colorado Springs, and this area has lots of fascinating attractions that we say we will get to one of these days … we’ve decided to do it now! Spending a day at a museum, grabbing a hot dog on the street, riding on a tour bus, and more can be just the ticket.
    Get involved – We are both involved in several service and civic organizations. Nothing gives you a break from work like pounding nails for Habitat, teaching an inner city child the joy of reading, fixing up an elderly person’s home or hosting an exchange student and seeing your city and country through new eyes.

  6. Ngoc T from Iowa, May 21, 2010 at 6 p.m.

    Simple and profound. We all needed to hear it. Thanks, Cory.

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