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Work Life Balance

Work Less And Live More

How to live the life you want right now.

Monique Verduyn

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Tim Ferriss is best known for The 4-Hour Workweek, a book about how not to work hard. On his blog, Ferriss drops wisdom on how to overcome self-doubt, how to become better at empowering yourself, and how to make sure that you can live a life of leisure. He himself runs a multinational firm from wireless locations worldwide and has been a guest lecturer at Princeton University since 2003, where he presents entrepreneurship as a tool for ideal lifestyle design and world change.

What’s the ‘DEAL’?

In his book and on his blog, he outlines four steps to creating the life you have always dreamed of:

‘D’ is for Definition.

You need to figure out what you want, overcome the fears that prevent you from going for it, and determine what it will really cost to get to where you want. It may seem like a difficult task, but he provides ways of answering these questions. He also makes the point that the opposite of happiness isn’t sadness: it’s boredom.

‘E’ is for Elimination.

Elimination is about applying the 80/20 rule and focusing only on those tasks that contribute the majority of benefit to your life. Ferriss recommends applying it mercilessly to all aspects of your life to eliminate the small minority of factors that waste 80% of your time. Forget time management, he says. Focus instead on getting the really important and results-producing tasks done, because there is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness.

‘A’ is for Automation.

Automation is all about building a sustainable, automatic source of income. This section is about business management. The trick, Ferriss says, is to avoid building a business that demands your presence all the time. Having made that mistake once, he now has hundreds of people working on his behalf through multiple outsourced vendors.

‘L’ is for Liberation.

Once you’ve successfully automated your lifestyle, you can liberate yourself from your geographical location and your job. With mobility comes the ability to leverage economic advantages across the world. Living in a tropical paradise and eating at 5-star restaurants every day can be cheaper, he maintains, than watching TV in your own home. He offers the example of his friend who spent a month in China getting married, but was just as productive as if he were working remotely so no one was the wiser. It’s important to note a few things: you have to be able to define what you want, communicate effectively, work hard to get all the essential tasks done, and be discerning enough to know whether you are moving in the right direction.

The “not-to-do” list –

What you don’t do determines what you can do.
Remove the constant static and distraction to get things done. If you have trouble deciding what to do, just focus on not doing. Here are some stressful and common habits that Ferriss says entrepreneurs should strive to eliminate.

1. Don’t answer calls from unrecognised phone numbers.
This just results in unwanted interruption and poor negotiating position. Let it go to voicemail and use a service that lets you receive voicemails as SMSs.

2. Don’t email first thing in the morning or last thing at night.

The former scrambles your priorities and plans for the day, and the latter just gives you insomnia. Email can wait until you’ve completed at least one of your critical to-do items.

3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time.

If the desired outcome is defined clearly, no meeting or call should last more than 30 minutes. Request them in advance so you “can best prepare and make good use of the time together.”

4. Do not let people ramble.

Forget “how’s it going?” when someone calls you. Stick with “what’s up?” or “I’m in the middle of getting something out, but what’s going on?” A big part of getting things done is getting to the point.

5. Don’t check email constantly.

Focus on execution of your top to-do’s instead of responding to manufactured emergencies. Check your email two or three times a day only.

6. Don’t forget to prioritise.

If you define the single most important task for each day, almost nothing seems urgent or important. Often, it’s just a matter of letting little bad things happen (return a phone call late and apologise, pay a small late fee, lose an unreasonable customer) to get the big important things done. Define the few things that can really fundamentally change your business and life.

7. Don’t carry a cellphone 24/7.

Take at least one day off from digital leashes per week. Turn them off or, better still, leave them in the car. Leave the phone at home if you go out for dinner. So what if you return a phone call an hour later or the next morning?

8. Don’t expect work to be life.

Schedule life and defend it just as you would an important business meeting. Force yourself to cram so your per-hour productivity doesn’t fall through the floor. Focus, get the critical few things done, and get out.

For more from Tim Ferriss, go to www.timferriss.com and www.fourhourworkweek.com. The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss, is published by Vermilion. Get it from www.kalahari.net

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

Work Life Balance

Want More Productive Employees? It’s Time To Get Physical, Together

Exercising with your employees can help to keep them productive, energised and motivated, while strengthening your team both physically and mentally

Belinda Mountain

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There’s a growing awareness that health is a huge contributor to people’s productivity at work, both in terms of mental health and physical health.

But getting employees to exercise in their own time, using their own motivation, can be challenging. How then, do we get them off their office chairs and get their heart rates going, in a fun and inspirational way? Doing it together may be the key.

Five Benefits to Team Exercise:

1. Motivation

If you’re running a race alone, it can be very easy to simply stop, because all you’re letting down is yourself. But if you’ve got a team mate cheering you on from the other side, waiting for you to pass them that baton, you’ll be that much more motivated to carry on.

Related: Is There A Link Between Physical And Financial Wellness?

The same applies to a game of volleyball, ten pin bowling or even a group obstacle course. The Fedhealth IMPI challenge has a corporate race over a distance of 10 – 12km, which includes 18 obstacles that will be hugely motivating to everyone competing. This event is held throughout the country from early April, featuring a variety of obstacles that foster teamwork and build morale.

2. Level Playing Field

In a corporate situation it can become very much an “us and them” scenario, where management sits in their ivory towers and is far removed from the day-to-day running of the business, and the people who perform these tasks.

Group exercise makes everyone equal: placing them on a level playing field where they can converse, get to know each other and work together.

It’s a case of: leave your job titles and organograms in the office, get on your tackies and have some fun! Tiffini Wissing, Fedhealth member and founder of Cool Kids’ Cabs agrees, saying:  “I love obstacle courses…I even took my entire team at the office which included 30 ladies from management, our cleaners and our drivers to do one!”.

3. Leadership

You’ll be amazed by how a different context can bring out qualities in people you may have never expected.

Related: Why You Should Be Swopping Your Lunch Meetings For Spinning Class

They may be quiet as a mouse around the board room table, but put people in a challenging physical situation, such as having to get 10 people over a three metre high wall, and you could see new leaders emerging.

Team sports and activities can highlight people’s attributes in a surprising way, and help you learn more about the individuals who make up your company.

4. Empowering

Getting people to try new things is one way of showing them their true potential, and this can extend into their careers too. If they achieve a task that they formerly thought impossible, like running 2km through the mud, or wading through a river holding on to a rope, they are highly likely to take this mindset into the office.

Tiffini says: “My staff absolutely loved it and hated me for it simultaneously! It was so empowering for so many of them who never in a million years thought they’d be able to do anything like it.”

There’s no doubt that getting your staff members to team up and complete a fun activity together has multiple health benefits.

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Work Life Balance

Boundaries, You And Success: Why They All Are Connected (And Why You Need To Choose Wisely)

Have you ever calculated how many of your 24hrs you are in “work-mode” – whether thinking, doing, commuting to meetings or responding to a quick mail at a family braai?

Anja van Beek

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I have noticed that many people, at one point or another, struggle to find time to cope with the demands of modern day life, especially as we are surrounded by technology. We are all ‘expected’ to strike a reasonable balance between the needs of our personal lives and professional careers. But in reality, it is a very tough task.

In a study done by OECD, reveals that:

1 in every 8 employees works 50 hours or more per week.

Turkey is by far the country with the highest proportion of people working very long hours, with 34%, followed by Mexico with nearly 30%. In South Africa, almost 19% of employees work very long hours, more than the OECD average of 13. This is quite alarming!

The work-life challenge: A key focus area for all managers

In a previous article, I have given some pointers how you, in your role as a manager and leader, can support your team striking the sweet-spot between a healthy work-life balance.

The reality is that leaders also need to fill their own cup. Many of my clients say they feel overwhelmed by what we need to do and achieve in a day. They also say, “there is just not enough time in one day” (sounds familiar?) and sometimes they even feel run-down, frustrated or anxious.

This all boils down to BOUNDARIES.

If you are a go-getter and crave to feel less overwhelmed, consider one of these 5 suggestions:

1. Important vs urgent – make time to reflect:

Daily reflection can be a way of creating mind space as it allows one the opportunity to gain perspective on situations we find challenging. Many successful people make it a daily habit of taking time to reflect.

By reflecting, we can consider what didn’t work, acknowledge what went wrong and choose a different way to prevent it from happening again.

An easy way to start reflecting is to do a one-sentence journal every day; also list and incorporate something that you are grateful for. If you need some inspiration, Ulysses.org provides a few good sentence starters.

2. If you take on new things, consider what you’re going to park?

All we have is time. The way you spend your time determines the quality of your life. I’m a strong believer in having a growth mindset and being a life-long learner; we all should find time to pursue goals and interest outside our family and work life.

Having said that, I’m mindful that we sometimes take on too much and set ourselves up for failure. If you take on a new hobby, venture or enroll for a course, consider choosing something that you are currently doing that you can “park” for a season.

3. Learn to say no without feeling guilty

‘No’ is also an answer. The truth is: if you say no, you are in fact just taking control of your life and prioritizing what is more important to you at that current time. Warren Buffet says, “the difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”

Related: How To Achieve Work-Life Balance

We can’t all be “yes-people” – imagine what the world would look like? When saying no, don’t beat around the bush or offer a weak excuse; just say it. In a study done by Prof Hagtveld he suggests one uses the words “I don’t” rather than “I can’t”. The latter might sound like an excuse whilst “I don’t” implies you have established certain boundaries for yourself.

4. Choose a support system you can trust

Most working women feel trapped. They feel they need to take control of every single aspect in their lives – personal and professional… and that is exhausting! We need to remember that we don’t have to do everything ourselves.

As we successfully delegate certain tasks at work; similarly, we need to delegate duties in our personal lives as well.

Yes, the #TheJuggleIsReal, I have been there…trying to do everything myself. Being a supermom at home and being an ambitious colleague at work. I felt drained most of the time.

Related: Building Real Work Life Balance

How do you get out of this rut?

  • Get a support system in place that you can rely on. It could be arranging a lift-club at school, assigning a tutor or Au pair helping the kids with homework or choosing to do your grocery shopping online.
  • Discuss sharing chores with your partner; many modern partners are more open to taking on non-traditional tasks e.g. cooking dinner, doing the washing or putting the kids to bed.
  • The best advice that I have received as a working mother was: “be present in the moment”. This simply means choosing to focus on what you’re doing and not allowing your mind to wander to other urgent matters. I often find that when I’m busy helping the kids with homework my mind is already busy with the presentation for the next morning. I then need to refocus and choose to concentrate on the important and not the urgent.

5. Are you clear on your vision or purpose?

Do you know why you are you getting up in the morning? If not, this can significantly impact your journey as you have nothing to align your priorities with.

In his research, Richard Leider, found that many 65-year old people said they wish they have understood their purpose earlier in life. Make time to clarify your vision as this will guide your choices.

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Work Life Balance

7 Ways To Be ‘On’ Even When You’re Totally Exhausted

Trade shows can test the limits of human endurance. Here’s how to survive and thrive on your next trip.

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I spent the past week representing my company at two different trade shows. I am exhausted.

The entire time I was out there, I had to be “on” while enduring the basic conference schedule: Up early for a breakfast, catch a seminar, talk to potential partners/customers at our booth instead of eating lunch, chat at coffee break “networking” sessions, circulate through cocktail parties and make lively conversation with twenty strangers packed around a dinner table. Rinse and repeat. The big question became, “How can I keep this up?”

Here’s what I learned about thriving and not collapsing at your next conference.

1. Know your pitch

When I used to work for The Metropolitan Museum of Art or Disney Theatrical, people understood who I was and what I did right away. But now I work for a start-up called Show-Score, which I need to explain. And so I learned to do in the simplest way possible.

Depending on who my audience is, Show-Score is “Rotten Tomatoes for theater” or “Trip Advisor for theater”. This saved my life. You don’t have the time or energy to give a ten-minute spiel everytime you meet someone new at a conference, so learn how to explain your business or product in one simple and intriguing phrase.

Related: How To Go From Burnout To Breakthrough

2. Don’t talk business non-stop

I’m in sales, and sometimes I worry that I sound like an endless commercial. I am passionate about my company, but no one wants to hang out with a packaged pitch.

A quick sales moment is fine on the trade floor, but when you sit down to dine or grab drinks with colleagues at the bar, what’s your go-to conversation?

I like finding out where people are from, what sports teams they like and what movies they’ve seen recently. And if you are a conference where interests are shared, lean on that. At the ticketing conference I went to, I learned so much, like how the same venue will take a completely different approach to selling tickets to a college basketball game versus selling tickets to a concert. (Okay, that may only be interesting to a ticketing nerd like me, but you get the idea).

3. Take ten minutes of Zen

7-ways-to-be-on-even-when-youre-totally-exhausted_zen-mindfulness_embeddedI must attribute this advice to a former colleague. We may not have time to grab a power nap, but we can all grab ten minutes of alone time at some point in the day.

If you are on a conference floor, walk away from the booth, find a quiet spot and zone out for a full ten minutes. Don’t scroll through your Twitter feed, don’t check email. Just chill and rebuild your headspace.

4. Talk less, smile more

For you musical fans, you’ll get the Hamilton reference of this line. (I can’t help it, I work in theater!) But the point here is that when you’re dealing with tons of people, realise that you don’t always need to be the one talking.

Spend time listening. And smile, damn it. I have made more connections with people at conferences just by smiling at them than by talking. It usually happens during a shared experience like being stuck on an endless line trying to get Starbucks before a string of meetings starts. Or I’ll just smile at someone who looks as exhausted as I am at the end of the day. Try it and your whole mood lightens, too.

5. Wear comfortable shoes, dress your best

For women, high heels without backup flats is a rookie mistake. And for men, don’t buy new shoes right before hours on a trade floor and expect to break them in. Make sure you wear something you can easily walk around in for an entire day that makes you look professional and feel confident. Same goes for your outfit. I have a few dresses that make me feel on top of the world. A friend of mine loves to change out his pocket squares to give both his look and his confidence a boost.

Related: 5 Ways to Get Unstuck in the Face of Creative Burnout

6. Go easy on the booze

Yes, a conference can mean lots of cocktails but I always follow each drink with two glasses of water. Or sometimes I just fake it completely and order seltzer with lime and sip slowly.

There is always that temptation to have an all-night rager when we are on the road, but don’t forget you are there for work. Tomorrow you will need to be back “on” and a hangover is not going to help.

7. Sleep when you can

Five AM flights and time zone changes can seriously throw off your sleep schedule. So when you do finally get a chance to catch some Zs, sleep like you mean it. Plug your phone in away from your bed (the temptation of work email can wait till the morning), turn off the lights, pull the curtains closed and rest up. I almost never turn on the TV when I get back to my hotel room. The pull of late night talk shows means I get what is called “junk sleep,” which is when light and noise mess up sleep cycles and sleep-related hormone levels. You wake up exhausted and grouchy. Not exactly how you want to start an important day of networking.

And the eighth bonus tip: Remember to have fun! I have learned so much at these trade shows, made great business connections and even a few new friends. Enjoy! And smile!

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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