Lack of work-life balance gives rise to more problems
Many people that come into my 1:1 practice seek help with finding work-life balance. This could be balance between life and work, work and career, life and happiness, work and self-care. In one way or another, their current life is not working. This is where Grid helps a lot.
Grid is a versatile framework for well-being and organizing and concretizing our efforts. Because Grid is rooted in balancing our well-being with what’s important in life, our work and career, Grid helps ensure that what we do moves us towards a better life. Grid achieves this one day, week and month at a time joining the big picture vision with regular activity. Check out the case studies in our Grid section to find out how Grid is helping people change their lives. You can also join our open Facebook Grid community for regular tips and advice.
I created the Grid to help address one of the biggest challenges I saw people face at work and in their lives: lack of work-life balance and unhappiness I believed was completely avoidable. Too many of us are caught in a vicious, toxic cycle of chasing a better tomorrow. Grid frees the person from such a loop.
While most people have a reasonably clear vision of what their “happy life” looks like, some don’t. If that’s you, address this here first. If you have a clear vision, then what’s key is to design your today in a way that is grounded in balance. Grid helps you do that and keep things on the right track.
Lack of balance is literally chaos that eats happiness for breakfast
Here are some of the things that happen when there is little balance in our lives.
- A sense of isolation or feeling unsupported.
- Resenting family, colleagues and friends who don’t work as hard as we do.
- Impatience with partners and children and general short-temper and frustration.
- Poor listening skills and the ability to be fully present.
- Little compassion with ourselves and others.
- Pain feeling not understood or aided.
- Questioning the meaning of life or feeling life has little purpose.
- Feeling trapped or imprisoned and wanting to lash out.
- Not wanting to make time for loved ones because it feels unproductive.
- Feelings of despair and self-loathing.
- Health concerns and lack of healthy mobility or overdoing sports and sex to let off steam.
What often emerges in my 1:1 sessions with clients is a picture of total chaos. Clients have trouble prioritizing what’s important, struggle to complete tasks and get into an ever-larger rut unless they seek help. They often complain about being incredibly busy but their activity is not achieving results or moving them forward to a better place.
Grid helps you balance work and life
Most of us would not imagine trying to fix an appliance without having the right knowledge, tools, manuals and in some cases simply get the expert in. And yet, when it comes to our lives we pretend to know what to do when we honestly have no clue.Dr. Magdalena Bak-Maier, Neuroscientist, Grid Creator and Top Performance Coach
When we get caught in the daily business of chaos, we’re busy reacting to it. Instead of placing focus on what matters, all attention is diverted to surviving the now or escaping it. Thinking differently or cultivating creativity in chaos is virtually impossible. They require time or energy that seem missing.
People caught in this loop often blame the system, other people and give up easily because they can’t see their way out of the problem. These behaviours disempower them further and keep things stuck.
Falling back on existing imbalance is often easier in the first instance. It’s a matter of habit. This includes old stories, faulty assumptions and warped and hasty conclusions that are part of the same pattern of chaos response. One of my favorite questions to clients, when they defend their current ways, is “And how is this working out for you?”
Day on day, repeating the same behaviour that created a problem is a sure recipe for more dissatisfaction and exhaustion. But living and being out of balance also erodes human connection. This is equally heartbreaking as it ripples out to disrupt more lives.
Imbalance isolates us from others
I bring you what I have and who I am. I bring my mind, my heart, my physical presence and my spirit, just as you bring yours. Together, we dance in our interaction revealing more of who we are to one another. – Magdalena Bak-Maier, Author of Get Productive Grid and Body Talk
If I have peace and love in me, then this is what I will bring to you. If I live in perpetual frustration or resentment that things are not good for me, I bring this with me. If I have been through trauma and healed, I bring that too.
Further, as I stay preoccupied with what’s wrong, my ability to be fully present to you is impaired.
This is why when we lack work-life balance, we have a tendency to isolate ourselves from others. Some of my clients will often say pretty shocking things when we initially meet to discuss our work programme. For example:
- Sometimes I wish my boss or the whole management board would just all have a fatal accident.
- I hate to admit this, but I actually hate my kids right now.
- I have considered ending it all several times.
- We’re no longer having sex and I fear for our future.
- Nothing excites me.
- My partner says he/she is there for me, but they have no clue how I really feel. No one does.
- My kids won’t speak to me. What did I do wrong?
- Wish I could just run away from it all. Why did Covid had to happen now?
An imbalance is paradoxically handy if we become present to it. It helps correct that which is in need of adjustment and helps us discover the roots of grace. – Magdalena Bak-Maier, Author of Get Productive Grid and Body Talk
What to do if you’re struggling with getting the work-life balance right
Are you doing a lot but don’t seem to be getting anywhere?
Try doing far less but way, way better. Raise your standards. Bring your heart into it.
Healthy perfection is work done with love. – Magdalena Bak-Maier, Author of Get Productive and Get Productive Grid
Being forced to pick just a handful of key priorities, helps us stay focused and do a better job. I would suggest no more than 1-2 areas of focus in each Grid quadrant: life, self-care, work/business/studies, and career. Start with what you love and attend to self.
With time Grid will help you juggle more with skill. Below are some examples but you will find yours:
- Life: romantic partner if you have one and your finances.
- Self: good quality rest/energy refuelling and fun.
- Work: top project or key priority, 1 key work relationship or client.
- Career: up-to-date CV and a list of notable achievements that show your value.
Doing less but better may mean cooking only one home-cooked meal and making it really special; putting the phones away, setting the table, letting people know your intention and inviting them into the experience wholeheartedly.
Need extra hours to get yourself out of a tiredness ditch? Designate one day per week where you take yourself to bed by 10pm. Gift yourself one afternoon nap each week and plan it into your diary.
We tell kids to go to bed early and encourage them to nap, yet we forget that every healthy adult has in him or her a child self. Our inner child needs to trust our adult self to give everyone enough rest. – Magdalena Bak-Maier, Author of Get Productive and Get Productive Grid
Instead of feeling isolated at work, schedule a regular social catch up time with one colleague. Dare to break the surface pleasantries and share something that touched you deeply or delighted you recently.
Improve your CV or hone in your work pitch so that when you share it with others, people understand how you can help them.
Bottom line: Never settle for mediocre. It’s unsatisfying and will never be remembered.
Are you paying attention to the action and the outcome?
It can be so frustrating. You think you’re doing okay and then your partner tells you they want to leave you or your boss tells you they will have to let you go. You were a parent but your kids don’t want to spend time with you. Where did you go wrong? I can only say this. You did go wrong somewhere and you’re still on the wrong path.
In my experience, the answer is often hidden in how we pay attention to the delicate balance between what we do and how our actions impact others. We have been told that intention is all that matters but this is not true. Our intentions can be noble and good and we still don’t deliver the goods. We need to learn to pay attention to feedback. How we impact others matters because it is the feeling they have that they are left with.
Today, we have many companies and leaders saying the right things but their daily practices go counter to their noble words. The same is true for each of us. We may think we’re kind, but if we don’t perform kind acts on a regular basis, we’re self-deceiving. We may think ourselves loving, but if our loved ones are not beaming with joy, chances are we’re not balancing their needs with ours well enough.
It is easy to go on autopilot. It is even restful to drift at times. Continuous drifting, however, rarely produces desirable results. It veers towards imbalance. It makes us passive and lazy. The momentary habit of postponing something for later or tomorrow becomes the defining signature habit. – Magdalena Bak-Maier, Author of Get Productive and Get Productive Grid
In the process of imbalance, we lose connection with the best parts of ourselves and those we love.
- Want to delight your partner or significant other and make them feel you care? Make them a true priority in a way that matters to them, not you?
- Is the next career move vital for you? Write down a list of key steps to take and turn them into tasks. Complete each one to take yourself in the right direction.
- Is work leaving you overwhelmed? Focus on being clear about the future you desire and check that what you do today takes you closer to it.
- Feeling frazzled and anxious? Make health and your well-being a priority. Create one simple ritual that lets you focus on you.
Are you getting feedback that what you’re doing is not working?
Being told we’re not getting it right isn’t nice. On the other hand, if we’re really honest, we often know this already. Whether it’s a career setback, a promotion opportunity that went to someone else or a partner or family member that’s telling you to pull up your socks – address it!
Take feedback on the chin and trust that if people are giving it, it’s because they care and love you.
Assume the best about others and question the best in yourself. – Magdalena Bak-Maier, Author of Get Productive and Get Productive Grid
Ask for specific tips to help you improve. To nurture connection, you have to pay attention to the other people in your life. Being busy and under stress often makes us blind to this.
How Make Time Count can help
At Make Time Count, we love to help people improve their lives and address their work-life balance. We also help folks notice how much more opportunity for joy and happiness is present in the lives they currently have. This requires:
- deepening self-awareness,
- learning how to pay attention and communicate,
- practice listening deeply,
- learning to balance various needs and agendas so that there is greater harmony and balance all around.
5 concrete ways you can start to improve your work-life balance today
- The Grid book and methodology can get you started today!
- Grid Life Satisfaction survey will help you pinpoint areas for immediate improvement.
- Grid retreat can help you take concrete action.
- Grid-based 30-day goal-setting course in collaborations with Psychologies Magazine has been their bestselling practical course designed to make fast improvement across life, work, career and personal well-being since 2017.
- 1:1 work-life balance coaching for when the only way to make things better is to hold hands with someone who has been there, found a way out and is committed to helping you do the same.
A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life.James Allen, British Philosophical Writer and Poet