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Thriving Despite the Noise, Crowds, and Clutter

If you want to avoid being stuck in traffic, waiting in line, and scrambling with the masses for goods and services, some obvious strategies begin to appear

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The next time you head out on the highway, (whether in a gas guzzler or not), and notice that traffic is moving at a crawl, remember it’s not only your city or state, it’s happening across the U.S. and across the globe. Author Nina Tassi, in Urgency Addiction, observes that many people express worry and frustration about transportation, ostensibly because “every busy person’s life is taken up by getting from here to there.”

Too Much of Everything

You read about drivers getting into quarrels during commuting time. The anger and hostility people feel towards one another when they get behind the wheel is a mirror of the overall feelings that increasing numbers of people are beginning to experience with living in a society that is getting too politically polarized, too crowded, moving too fast, and becoming too congested.

Professor Richard Williams, at Duke University, says that, “Each time we slam the steering wheel when we’re cut off in traffic or blow our stack at work, we’re endangering our future well-being because of our evolutionary past. When we feel threatened, the brain sends an emergency call to the nervous system. If we dress in animal skins, staring down a saber tooth tiger, as did our most distant ancestors, the body’s response would serve us well. The sudden burst of stress hormones would shift our circulatory system into high gear, sending additional blood and energy stores to our waiting muscles.”

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Today, rather than the random saber-toothed tiger, our frequent stress comes from endless miles of chugging along at five miles an hour, or ridiculously slow supermarket check-out counters. The repeated release of stress hormones proves dangerous as it accelerates the development of clogged arteries.

Getting Unstuck

If you want to avoid being stuck in traffic, waiting in line, and scrambling with the masses for goods and services, some obvious strategies begin to appear:

1. Live closer to your office. I can’t think of anything that makes more sense. If you work for an organization, regardless of the metro or suburban area in which you work, undoubtedly there are good neighborhoods a reasonable distance away. When you live closer to your office, you benefit in many, many ways:
* Less commuting time, less gasoline cost.
* Less wear and tear on your car in general.
* More flexibility in departing for the office and for back home.

2. Telecommute. You might have gotten lots of practice during the pandemic. If you can work at home as little as one day per week, perhaps a Wednesday, you cut your week of commuting in half.

3. Become a contrarian. If everyone vacations on holidays, use that day to work. Take your time off when everyone else is working. If everyone heads into the city between 7 and 9 a.m., then head in between 5 and 6, or 10 and 11. If this sounds too stark for you, experiment with it a little at a time. People who arrange their schedules to avoid competing with the masses in terms of travel and leisure feel good about it.

4. Do more of your shopping online. Rather than fight with all the other people for parking spaces at the mall, order by online catalog. Many vendors have liberal return policies as well. It’s a great way to shop because you can sit and think about what you’re doing, without getting jostled, overwhelmed, and unfocused in a hurry.

5. Be more selective as to what information you take in. Remember, in a world of eight billion people, there will be more books, articles, movies, plays, commentaries, opinions, and points of view. Unless you actively limit what you allow to compete for your time and attention, your days will race by faster than you care to live them.

6. Give yourself recurring sanctuary. How do Japanese, in a country the size of California, but with five times the population of California, find any breathing space? Everybody needs to have some time for themselves, if only to “zone out.” Undoubtedly, there are places you’ve already carved out – your rec room, study, backyard, or favorite vacation spot. The key is to use these places, and get some of the rest and relaxation you so fervently need.

Seek Summaries

Finally, forsake day-to-day tuning in. Instead of trying to ingest everything that the media has to offer, seek summaries of news and information. Much of what’s presented to you is not news, anyway.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Bite-Sized Motivation

The insights or wisdom we need to get us going often don’t have to be more than a few words

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I’ve spoken to 1075 audiences at conventions, conferences, and meetings, and have had the opportunity to hear probably 800 other speakers as well.

The insights, perspectives, or wisdom we need, to get us going often don’t have to be more than a few words. Here are 52 of my own six word “speeches,” drawn from my keynotes and breakout session on the topic of work-life balance. Some of these likely will resonate with you:

Choose from what you already have.
Everyone needs breathing space, especially you.
Information overload obscures meaning and relevance.
Deep breathes are essential for well-being.

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Make every day an organized day.
Allow your natural rhythms to rule.
Stay confident and in control daily.
Manage your time, manage your life.

Slow down to plot your course.
Look for the best in others.
Make yourself indispensable on the job.
Compete with yourself, not with others.

Learn to take control of today.
Manage your time to make time.
Take control of your desk clutter.
You’re the best when you’re fresh.

Do something to take control now.
Major projects often require a jumpstart.
Methodically pare down your paper piles.
Don’t attempt too much at once.

Evaluate your situation and what’s important.
Narrow your priorities to stay focused.
Avoid making promises you can’t keep.
Learn to embrace your many talents.

Take the time to become organized.
Become aware of how you react.
Arrange your space; help isn’t coming.
Manage the flat surfaces in life.

Periodically challenge yourself to perform better.
Take long, deep breaths as needed.
Reclaim your places, spaces, and graces.
Start big projects well in advance.

Don’t rush the truly important things.
Make the best use of today.
Schedule accordingly: plan for your future.
Be kind, cut yourself some slack.

Opportunity knocks, but are you answering?
Conventional wisdom has diminishing value.
When practical, substitute time for money.
The market for top talent lives.

The self-reliant survive and thrive.
Leadership requires forethought and super-vision.
Learn from and capitalize on mistakes.
Firmly face the future with confidence.

“Now” holds a lot of opportunity.
Control but don’t curb your enthusiasm.
Treading water won’t propel you forward.
Have you ever really tested yourself?

Life goes on; do your best.
Continually seek out the higher ground.
Luck is distributed evenly, but disguised.
You must be doing something right.

 


 

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Work-Life Balance in Your Life

It the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life

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Work-life balance (WLB) is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life with sufficient leisure. WLB, also referred to by some as work-life harmony, work-life shift, work-life blend, work-life effectiveness, or work-life integration, requires focus and awareness despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for our time and attention.

Work-life balance entails having what I call “breathing space” for yourself each day, feeling a sense of accomplishment while not being consumed by work, and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. WLB is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within the course of a day and a week, and however many years you have left in your life.

Supporting Disciplines

Several disciplines support work-life balance though, individually, none are synonymous with work-life balance:

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1) Self Management

Sufficiently managing one’s self can be challenging, particularly in getting proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Self-management is the recognition that effectively using the spaces in our lives is vital, and that life, time, and available resources are finite. It means becoming captain of our own ship; no one is coming to steer for us.

2) Time Management

Effective time management involves making optimal use of your day and the supporting resources that can be summoned – you can only keep pace when your resources match your challenges. Time management is enhanced through appropriate goals and discerning what is both important and urgent, versus important OR urgent. It entails understanding what you do best and when, and assembling the appropriate tools to accomplish specific tasks.

3) Stress Management

By nature, societies tend to become more complex over time. In the face of increasing complexity, stress on the individual is inevitable. More people, noise, and distractions, independent of one’s individual circumstances, require each of us to become more adept at maintaining tranquility and being able to work ourselves out of pressure-filled situations. Most forms of multi-tasking ultimately increase our stress, while focusing on one thing at a time helps decrease stress.

4) Change Management

In our fast-paced world, change is virtually the only constant. Continually adopting new methods, adapting old, and re-adapting all methods is vital to a successful career and a happy home life. Effective change management involves offering periodic and concerted efforts so that the volume and rate of change at work and at home does not overwhelm or defeat you.

5) Technology Management

Effectively managing technology requires ensuring that technology serves you, rather than abuses you. Technology has always been with us, since the first walking stick, spear, flint, and wheel. Today, the rate of technological change is accelerating, brought on by vendors seeking expanding market share. Often you have no choice but to keep up with the technological Joneses, but rule technology, don’t let it rule you.

6) Leisure Management

The most overlooked of the work-life balance supporting disciplines, leisure management acknowledges 1) the importance of rest and relaxation, 2) that “time off” is a vital component of the human experience, and 3) that one can’t indefinitely short-change leisure without repercussions. Curiously, too much of the same leisure activity, however enjoyable, can lead to monotony. Thus, effective leisure management requires varying one’s activities.

Entirely Achievable

Achieving work-life balance does not require radical changes in what you do. It is about developing fresh perspectives and sensible, actionable solutions that are appropriate for you. It is fully engaging in life with what you have, right where you are, smack dab in the ever-changing dynamics of your existence.

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