Fast Food Friday blue plate specials aren't always quick meals, but they are nutritional and fortunately, with the government shut down we don't have to worry about dealing with the FDA!
(Sorry, with the nonsense going on in Washington and thousands of people not getting paid while the members of Congress still draw their salaries, it's hard to not have a little sarcasm spill over into today's post. Sheila had a great idea the other night, suggesting every member of Congress also have their pay docked and be fined $20,000 a day.)
Okay, back to this week's special - I do not profess to be an expert on this dish, but it is one I'm cooking today, and it's all from the heart! Let's talk about things you can do to find balance. And, while "balance" is such an abused all-inclusive word, we're really talking about adjusting your priorities.
Wearing Multiple Hats
We all wear multiple hats as business owners, parents, spouses, friends, and children, just to name a few. The challenge comes in remembering you've only got one head! And, while the buzz-word today is multi-tasking, you're still only one person.
- "To thine own self be true!" Shakespeare wrote it long before my grandmother said it, but here's the point, and I've said it numerous times before, you can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in the game! Being happy in what you're doing for a living is a critical component in balancing your priorities.
- You're not alone! Whether you're married or single, you've got a family and friends who are important. You've got to make time for them. Share your frustrations with them. They're part of your life because they care about you, but they're not mind-readers. You've also got to be available to participate in their lives.
- Set a time to punch out! Pick a time of day when you shut off the business. While it takes practice, it is almost that easy. I shut off the ringer on my cell phone around 5:30 every day. I only take urgent calls in the evening, and I ALWAYS have dinner with Sheila.
- Where's your no phone zone? We learned this one from Michele Celentano. Her kitchen, like most of our homes, is all about family and friendship. Even as a guest, you don't touch your cell phone in her kitchen. The kitchen is a NO PHONE ZONE.
- Do you get enough sleep, exercise, and nutrition? It's the Trifecta you need to win EVERY day. Your body is like a bank account - if you're short on sleep, don't get enough exercise and have lousy eating habits you're going to be overdrawn. For me it seems rest is the most critical. Everyone is different - I need 7-8 hours to have the most positive energy.
- You need to laugh more and worry less! It's easy to say, but not so easy to do. This is where your family and friends play a role, but you've got to make the time to let them into your life!
- Learn to walk away! Recognize stress! It comes in all shapes and sizes, but there are times when you have to walk away to recharge. You might even have to start completely over, but a fresh start give you a new perspective on whatever the challenge might be.
- Listen to your heart! Trust your gut - Most of the time your gut instinct is telling you exactly what path to take.
So, here's what works for me and it's taken me years to perfect it, and I'm still work in progress. I have a morning routine:
- I start with checking my email and responding when necessary. The best advice in business I was ever given was to handle each piece of paper only once. Okay, so that was before the Internet, but the logic is the same. I read my email, make a decision, answer it and move on.
- Next comes reading something that's inspirational. Melody Beattie is my favorite author lately. In the same way, many of you need that first cup of coffee; I need to feed my brain with something outside photography.
- It's time for a walk! I'm an early riser, usually starting at 6:30. Around 7:30 Sheila and I take our morning walk. We walk for thirty minutes around the neighborhood. While the exercise is essential, it also gives us time to talk about the day ahead along with anything else on our minds.
- Molly the Wonder Dog is next in the routine. Molly is let out, and I always go out with her. Then she's brushed, played with for a few minutes and fed. If you're a pet owner you already understand that special bond and how it adds to a sense of balance, even when things are most chaotic.
- Time to open the "store:" Whether it's writing new posts, phone calls or thinking through what's on the agenda for the day, I'm officially into work.
- Breakfast or brunch comes next, most often between 9:30 and 10:00. I love to cook and we take turns, but Sheila and I ALWAYS have breakfast together. This is the equivalent of morning recess when I was a kid.
- Back to work for the day: I have a standing desk and another I can sit at, but I try and find a balance between the two. At any age, you should not be sitting for too long! I'll work most of the day, head out for any errands or appointments and we'll grab something light for lunch early afternoon.
Obviously, there are phone calls and interruptions throughout the day, along with scheduled conference calls, appointments, etc. but at the end of the day, usually around 5:30 everything shuts down, and it's family time. Sheila and I have dinner together and then move to the TV for our favorite shows, a fast run through the news and maybe a movie.
Our day typically ends around 10:00 PM watching a rerun of Friends. Why? Because the news used to be the last thing we watched and it's become so depressing we needed to laugh before going to sleep. I think back to my folks always watching the 11:00 PM news before going to bed. Well, these days it's all nightmare material, so we finish the day watching something entertaining.
That's our routine, but it only works if there's a lot of open, honest communication. Both of us have learned to share the challenges in our life, our aspirations, and disappointments. We've learned to trust each other and for example, when I'm off balance and too focused on a business challenge we talk it out. We're both work in progress and it's not always smooth sailing. But there's also that great quote about calm seas not making skilled sailors!
Most important of all, take the time to be thankful. So many of you are obsessed with finding success, but you've never taken the time to think through what that really means. For me, it's about waking up with a smile on my face every morning.
We've worked together to find balance. We're like a medieval castle. We think of our home as surrounded by a moat. When the enemies are clamoring at the gate, we recognize when we need to help each other and pull up the draw bridge.