The underlying core of my more than 2,000 Time Management presentations during the last thirty years has been the concept of “balance.” Success in managing our time has less to do with the tools available to us, such as “to do lists” and techniques for delegation, as it have to do with achieving daily balance in our lives. If we are not in balance to begin with, we are likely to sabotage our success. Successful Time Management then has a lot to do with what we are not doing.
Our lives are built on several legs, the Seven Vital Areas: Health, Family, Financial, Intellectual, Social, Professional and Spiritual. If one is a little longer than the rest, like a table, it will affect then entire table.
Life can be cruel. You can lose in any of those areas overnight. Your health can go away. Your money can be lost. Your family can leave you, all on a moment’s notice. Not that we don’t do things to prevent that from happening, but the point is, if one or two legs falters, you have others to hold you up.
It takes three legs for a stool to stand. If you build your life around just one or two legs or areas you first have a continual problem maintaining your balance. Worse, if you lose those one or two legs of those remaining legs, you collapse.
Here’s my list of the seven best ways to get out of balance and become uni or duo dimensional.
1. Ignore Your Health. Don’t get the quantity and quality of sleep you require. Don’t take time for exercise. Eat the wrong stuff. (90% of those who join Health and Fitness Clubs today will stop going within the next 90 days.) Your resistance level will be reduced and you will be susceptible to all the latest sniffles and flues going around to ensure that you take advantage of all the sick days you are allowed. 75% of all adult deaths are preventable. We are literally driving ourselves to early grave in the “hurry-up, stressful” life of ours.
It’s interesting when someone gets a new car, they bring it in for the scheduled maintenance, put the right grade of fuel in the tank, and keep it shiny and clean. Our pets visit the veterinarian on a scheduled basis. In a recent study, 34% of the men surveyed said they would not go to doctor even if they were experiencing chest pains.
2. Postpone Family Time. They will always be there for you anyway when you get the time for them. A student once asked me, “What is the best way to take my four year old on vacation?” I replied, “You take her when she’s four years old.” Fifty percent of marriages wind up in divorce court. Imagine, getting married at age twenty-five and twenty years later, at age forty-five, you give up 50% of everything you have worked for in your adult life in a property settlement in divorce court. It’s like the squirrel, gathering the nuts, hoarding away while someone is drilling a hole in the side of the tree to let all the nuts escape. The squirrel is too busy to hear the impending threat. The average working person spends less than two minutes per day in meaningful communication with their spouse or “significant other” and less than thirty seconds per day in meaningful communication with their children.
3. Don’t Plan Your Financial Life. Be assured that your employer, and if not, then the government, and if not, then maybe a kindly relative will take care of your needs. Most people arrive at the end of life financially deficient or dependant upon some type of assistance from the government or relatives. Most people do not spend a little of their time, on a regular basis, to create financial freedom and live their lives they way they “want to,” but rather do what do because they “have to.” Eighty percent do not want to go to work on Monday morning. Ninety-seven percent say that if they did achieve financial independence, they would not continue with their current employer or in their current line of work.
4. Stay Away From Intellectual Development. You have the degree. You read books at one time. Five percent of the population purchases ninety-five percent of all the books. The other ninety-five purchase the other five percent of the books. They don’t have time to read them. They give them away as gifts. You barely have enough time to keep your head above water, what with work and other interests. Coast with the knowledge you have. It’s draining away from you daily but hopefully you filled the reservoir enough early on that it will carry you through your life.
5. Let Your Social Contacts Decide Your Future. Follow the advice of your friends about what you should be doing in your life even if they are not in a place where you would want to be. Be ever conscious of “What would my friends say/think if I did…?.” Always seek out and act only with the approval of your peers. Take comfort in the knowledge that when there is a void in leadership your life on how you should be spending your time, someone else will fill that void and tell you what to do.
6. Let Your Professional Life Just Happen. Do not establish a lifetime plan of where you want to go. Take whatever opportunity and advancement life gives you and be satisfied. Don’t rock the boat. Seek the familiar and avoid the strange. Play it safe. Make it comfortable. If you chose a career path when you were eighteen or twenty years old, and now at age forty you are unhappy, don’t consider a change. Hold on to that decision you made twenty years ago. It will be like going to a twenty year old for career counseling.
7. Avoid Spending Time In Your Spiritual Area. Not only in a formal religious venue, but also in our relationships to others, our community, our environment, and the universe. Leave those questions to others to ponder. “When man forgets his Creator, his own creations will be turned upon him.”