Work-Life Balance Hack (Or Not)

Want to know a great life hack? There aren’t any. I chuckle every time I see that phrase pop up in a new thread.

What is a life hack anyway? If you are looking for better ways to do things, then great, you are looking for growth. Hacking usually means stealing something that isn’t yours or breaking something that worked perfectly well; not the things I want in my life.


If life hack is supposed to be some form of finding new and better ways to get things done or live life, then great. Here’s one of the biggest improvements I can offer anyone at any stage of their life.

In my tribe of young professional managers, people in their 30’s and 40’s,  I am often asked to offer suggestions for one key thing they can change.

Generally, I give this advice. [shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe” width=”200″]Be present in the moment.[/shareable]

What does that mean? It means finding a way to be fully present, real-time, right where you are. Whether that is at work, at home, or at play. With all of our electronics, it is tempting to be on your smartphone checking work emails while at dinner or with the family.

However, this concept is not all about our high tech world. It is more about mindset.

You could be standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon with no cell service, but still consumed with a work problem you left behind three days ago. You can be at work, but mentally dealing with a problem you and the spouse didn’t quite finish before you walked out the door that morning. And this list goes on; you fill in the blanks.

Being present takes some dedicated effort. If you are married or in a serious relationship, it also takes negotiation and coordination with that significant other in your life. If you plan family events, you need to be there both physically and emotionally. Physically present but emotionally or mentally far away does not count.

The same goes for work. Sitting at your desk, but mentally away, thinking about problems at home or issues with the kids is not productive either.

Be present in the moment.

This idea takes some planning and preparation. With practice, it can truly become more natural to you.

The decade of your 30’s is tough. You are pushing to make a name for yourself at work. You likely will be married and there may be small children involved. The demand for your time and attention from all corners will be greater than ever. Finding a work-life balance will be very challenging.

Failing to invest your full attention to the moment at hand only serves to complicate the whole equation. Why? Because you start feeling like you shorted both your job and your family, so you start trying to play catch-up. This dynamic starts to snowball when those around you experience or watch your distractions and begin to feel alienated.

Try these simple things.

  • When you get home from work, park the electronic gear (cell phones, iPads, etc.) somewhere, set on silent.
  • Take a moment to unwind by changing clothes and shift the attitude to things at home.
  • If you have kids, plan the time you need with them. Make it happen.
  • If you have a spouse, you need to establish a way for the two of you to reconnect EVERY DAY! This may be different from couple to couple. More on this in another article.
  • You need to create a definition of the balance between work and everything else. When a life partner is involved, be sure their expectations are included.

Above all, when things do not go as planned:

  • Acknowledge it.
  • Talk about it with those who were impacted.
  • Re-check your plan.
  • Keep going.

[reminder]What do you do to stay present in the moment?[/reminder]

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