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Work/Life Balance and The Myth of Multi-tasking

Mike Bal
  • On March 26, 2013
  • http://marketingapocalypse.com

Man PoseI’ve always been labeled as a multi-tasker, and it’s usually in reference to me being able to get a lot of different things done in relatively short periods of time. I’m going to be honest, I’m not a multi-tasker. I’m going to be blunt, no one really is.

There’s research that backs me up on this, Google it if you’d like.

Start by defining ‘task’. It doesn’t simply imply that you’re doing something, it means you’re trying to get something done. It is essentially labor with an end. When you divide your focus between several things that need to get done, nothing gets done.

I’m efficient because of my ability to make quick decisions, to prioritize, to develop processes, and to process information quickly. I actually focus incredible hard on everything I do, even if it’s just for a short period of time.

Now that we got that out of the way…

One of the biggest things employees look for in a company is whether or not their values promote a good work/life balance. Being a husband, a father, and entrepreneur, and a workaholic has taught me something very important. Your job really has nothing to do with how you balance it with your life.

We would all love to blame our jobs for being too demanding, but it’s really your call. When you think about all of the extra hours your putting in, evaluate whether you’re doing them because they really need to be done, or is it a personal decision. You decided not to say ‘no’, or you decided you wanted to get ahead on a project to impress the boss.

Most people have a work day of around 9 hours, not including the commute. Most people sleep between 6-8 hours. Do the math, between work and sleep you only have seven hours left in the day to commute, eat, spend time with family, workout, practice your hobby, relax, etc.

Now I’ll tie it all together and give you a few recommendations. Here are my secrets. 

1. Develop Processes: This applies to both life and work and it helps by removing decisions that don’t need to be made over and over again. You have the framework for how to get something done instead of building it from scratch. This also applies to routines. Example: bath time by 7:30, change, feed, bedtime story, trying to fall asleep by 9:00. You save time by not having to thing about what still needs to be done or what happens next.

2. Prioritize and Organize: Start by organizing all of the things you need to do. This includes work deadlines, daily tasks, household chores, favors to friends, nice things for your family and literally anything else you need or want to get done. I recommend combining Google Calendar (or any other digital calendar that reminds you of events) with Evernote. Once organized you have everything you need to prioritize them. (This is sometimes a matter of personal judgement) Maybe you were going to change the oil on the car today but something came up at work so you move the oil change back to next week.

Recommendation: Physically move the task on your notes or your calendar to make sure it doesn’t get forgotten.

3. Don’t Dwell: I have a mathematical formula built into my brain that tells me the time I spend making a decision should be directly proportional to the impact that decision actually has.

Explanation: If I’m writing a tweet I put down the first thing that comes to mind. Yes, better wording could lead to more engagement, but I’m not risking a one-time opportunity. While making decisions on whether or not to go after or accept a client I think about things like “How long is this going to impact my life?” “Is this something I will actually enjoy?” “Is the time I spend on this project worth what the client is going to pay me?” “Will this work be something I can be proud of?” and the list goes on.

If you can start trusting yourself a little more with the things that don’t matter quite so much, you’ll find yourself with a significant amount of time you were previously missing.

Note: #4 would have been processing information but I have ADHD so I’m biased on choosing how much of something to digest. Ask me about it via social if needed.

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