This episode is a deep-dive into work-life balance and how we can deal with it.
All links in one place
Dan Brockwell | On Startups, Corporate and The Importance of Personal Branding
On The Journey To Banking and Consulting Graduate Roles with Cheran Ketheesuran
On Finding and Thriving in Your Dream Graduate Role with Kerry Callenbach
00:00 Work-Life Balance
07:52 Part 1
09:50 Ted Talk
14:57 Brian Tracey
21:46 Part 2
23:09 Jeff Bezos
26:07 Michael Gill
Hello and welcome. See graduate theory. Uh, in today's episode, it's just you and me. We're doing a deep dive into work life balance. Now worklife balance, in 2021, April, 2021. Google tweeted that work life balance. Hit its peak in terms of search in terms of the trend. So Google trends, work, life balance hit a peak 2021 in April of 2021. The. It had never been searched more than it had been at that time. It is a topical problem. People are struggling to find the balance between work and life. How do I manage these things? And then, uh, and how do I live in harmony, perhaps in both my work and my life work life balance, I guess, is this dichotomy between how much SP how much time do we spend at work and how much time do we. In our life or not doing work. And what is the kind of split that we choose for this? So if you were sort of a hundred percent on work, imagine, you know, you worked, you literally worked all the time. There was no life, uh, then things would get probably it wouldn't be the happiest, the balance isn't quite there, but, and so maybe you wanna. Dinner with your family some nights of the week. Maybe it's, maybe it's a one night a week, you know, and we spend less time at work two nights a week, even less work 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, uh, seven nights a week, less work. So, and then you can even dial this further and say, maybe I should spend 50 50 work and non-work. You know, and, and this question of work life balance really is what is the optimal split between work and life. And how can you divide these two areas up in a way that, uh, means that you are, uh, like makes you the happiest that you can beat, right? Uh, cause I guess that is the underlying assumption is if your, if your work life balance is off, then you will be unhappy. Uh, unfulfilled, uh, all of these kinds of things, uh, I've even seen through my research for this episode, that work life balance can be something that you actually achieve. So people will ask on forums, you know, how, like how do I achieve work life balance, or they ask a particular person, how did you achieve work life balance? And, and this is interesting to me because. Can you actually achieve work life balance? Probably not. I would say it's more of a thing that's in flux all the time. It's, it's, it's this delicate dance right between work and life. Uh, and as we'll see later, perhaps these things are actually more related, perhaps there's actually. Not much of a divide between these two things at all. Anyway, in today's episode, we're gonna take a look at this stuff in more detail. Um, and I'm gonna start with a personal story. Something that I think is irrelevant to this topic. And from there, we'll kind of dive in into the details and hear from different people. Hear what they've gotta say. Uh, today's episode. We're gonna hear from someone like, uh, Jeff Bezo, we're gonna hear from Brian Tracy, Ted talks, our previous podcast guest, Simon Sinek. All these people are gonna be featured in this episode. So super exciting. Um, um, yeah, I think this is an interesting topic. It's something that I think we, uh, there are some parts of this that we need to talk about more so let's do it. I wanna start off with a personal story about work, life balance and, and something that happened to me a few months ago and something that I think is a good starting point for this kind of work life balance conversation. So it, it was a few months ago work and I was just doing my thing. Got, um, had a chat with my manager. And he assigned me to do this piece of work that I was quite excited by. Uh, I was like, this is really cool. I'm super excited to take on this thing and see what I can do with it. So the day I got given this piece of work, I was really excited. I went, I went and did heaps of work on it. And then the end of the work day came and I was at the office and then I went home, uh, and, and, you know, had some dinner and whatever. And then after dinner, I was like, you know, I'm still thinking about this problem. Why don't I just keep working on it. And so that's what I did. I got my laptop back out and, you know, it was like seven o'clock at night or whatever it started doing more work, uh, and, you know, worked until nine 30 or whatever. And then it was time for bed. Uh and then I went to bed and, uh, you know, then, then on the weekend I did even more. So then I was like, well, I'm still thinking of this problem, really enjoying it. It's really sort of stretching me. I feel like I'm gaining a. A lot out of this. Uh, yeah, let's just keep going. so, so I added even more. Um, and you know, that was. It was really fun. I, I really enjoyed it. The project, like it went really well and I learned heaps from doing it. Um, but the, the problems for me came from when I went to tell other people about this and I went and, and said to them, um, you know, firstly, I told my, uh, my manager was like, how did you do all this work over? when I only gave you this big task on Friday. Uh, and I was like, well, yeah, I did do some work over the weekend. And he said, well, This is good, but you know, probably best to not get in the habit of doing this because you know, like you need some, you need some life, right. We need to keep the work life balance split here, make sure that you know, work doesn't take over too much of things because otherwise we'll burn out perhaps. Um, but. On the other hand, it's, it's exciting that you, uh, wanted to do this and it wasn't something that was expected and just make he, he made sure that this wasn't. So the expectation that I go and do extra stuff on the weekend, which I absolutely uh, knew. Um, so that was a good, interesting conversation. And then another separate conversation came when I was telling friends about what I did on the weekend. and, and I say to them, This is what I did on the weekend. I actually had this really fun project to work. Uh, and I just decided to work on that on the weekend. Uh, and everyone there is like, what, like, why are you working on at the, like, on this piece of work, you know, on the weekend, you shouldn't be doing that. Uh, you know, what about your work life balance? you know, things like this, uh, in my head I'm like, yeah, I sort of see what you mean. Like, I probably could have done other things, but like, there was nothing really that I would prefer to do at that time, other than. Work on this thing, uh, like this thing was genuinely exciting me, uh, and it was super cool. And so I'm glad I did it, but there was kind of this weird I dunno, people thought it was very strange that someone could enjoy work that much, that they would, uh, choose to do it outside of work hours. Um, which I thought was interesting. And so that's the end of the story. It's an interesting story. It's something that I think about reasonably often, but today's episode is a good chance to dive into a lot of this content and more detail. And so I've got two different, uh, things that I think we can split this story in work life balance, generally into two sort of sub problems. I would call them, but work life balance. And one of these is a work life balance problem where work is interrupting important things. Um, basically when you are forced to work more than you would like. And then the second problem is people who work lots are sort of seem to be a bit strange because they don't have work life balance. And this is a work life balance problem. And so this would be work life balance when you're not forced to work. And so when you're actually choosing to do it, and then there's, there's this more, more of a, a cultural, uh, problem perhaps that you, that you have to face. Right. Uh, and so I wanna split it into these. And we'll dive into these in more detail. So the first one is when work is interrupting important things and an example, I guess, a classic example of this would be the case where the husband is at the hospital. And his wife is giving birth to a, to their child and he's there. It's, it's all going really well. And then he gets a phone call from a client and, and, and goes and has to take the call. And he can't be there with his kid. And he can't be there for this incredible moment where, you know, his wife is, needs him there. And the note I have to sort of skip this because the client is, is calling me. Uh, you know, so that would perhaps be an example where the expectation of working is, is. Clearly subtracting from your experience of life. Uh, and, and when, when work is interrupting important things. And so there's maybe, and so there is versions of this that are. More tame. That's an extreme example, but things where you're trying to have dinner with your family and, and the client calls, and you're expected to go and respond, or you're expected to go do this and that outside of work hours to the point where it's interrupting the things you'd want to do, uh, you know, to the point where it's frustrating you. And so. Today, I'm not gonna be the one giving advice for this. Uh because I've found people who are more smarter than me and better than me at explaining different things. And so these people are gonna give you some advice. So we've got firstly, a Ted talk, uh, where we're gonna hear three rules to create a better work life balance. And secondly, we're gonna hear from Brian, Tracy, Brian. Tracy is. Very famous self development coach figure. Uh, and he has some really good advice for creating, uh, you know, for turning your office life, optimizing it so that you can have better work life balance, but here's those tips now.
For so many of us, myself included our days feel filled with a million small interruptions. And this is true even of our days off. Maybe you've taken a call at the beach, texted your boss from the grocery store or emailed a colleague while on a picnic with your family. We've convinced ourselves that these behaviors are no big deal. It's. One email, but there's a real cost to these interruptions and there are smart strategies we can all take to better protect our time. These moments seem so small at the time. And yet research suggests they add up to a tremendous loss. The constant creep of work into our personal lives can increase our stress and undermine our happiness. So just what is the cost in one study, researchers recruited parents who are visiting a science museum with their kids. Some parents were told to check their phone as much as possible. Others were told to check their phone as little as possible after the. Parents who used their phones reported that the experience was significantly less meaningful. They also felt much lonelier in another study, tourists who were asked to have their phones out while visiting an iconic church remembered fewer details a week later. And in my research employees who were paid for their performance spent increasingly less time interacting with friends and family and more and more time interacting with colleagues and clients. These constant interruptions come at a cost to organizations, too. Companies lose 32 days of productivity each year to employee depression, which is often caused by the stress and burnout of our always on culture. Despite knowing better. I too have found myself focusing on urgent work distractions over important life moments. Most recently, I found myself texting a client while in the middle of my first child's first ultrasound. Happy client guilty mom, to be when you add up all of these moments, the sum total is a life shortchange on meeting joy connection and even memory. As we remake our models of work in the wake of the pandemic now is our opportunity to create a new culture that respects time and the way to make this really big change is through small steps that we can take right now. The first step that we need to take is to. Rest reflect for a moment about what you think about when you hear the word rest sounds amazing. Right? But in my mind, I immediately worry about not being productive enough or letting down my colleagues. When we do have time off, we need to find ways in which we can enjoy the present moment and savor the leisure time that we have available, as opposed to seeing it as an unproductive barrier to our work. One specific strategy we can. Is to treat our upcoming weekend, like a vacation on Friday afternoon, jot down how you would act and behave as if you were on a holiday. Maybe you and your partner will buy a bottle of wine and watch online clips of the Eiffel tower. Maybe you'll visit a local cafe and listen to some live music, or maybe you'll go for a long walk in the middle of the day with no phone and no agenda. The plan doesn't have to be expensive or extravagant. Another strategy you can take is to create clear boundaries for your time off. Instead of saying I'm out of the office, feel free to slack me. Whenever, say I'll be offline. Call me only if it's urgent. To uphold these personal goals, work together as a team set team goals for personal time, do it publicly collect data and hold each other accountable. These goals could sound like I will not check email between six and 8:00 PM. I will have dinner with my family four nights a week, or I will go for a jog midday, check in on your team's progress and see how everyone's doing. If you or your teammates are unsuccessful, work together to help accomplish personal goals. Lastly, you can negotiate for more time to prevent work from creeping into your personal life. In business school, I teach students to negotiate for salary, but realize I spoke almost nothing about negotiating for more. What does this look like in practice? You can ask for more time on adjustable deadlines at work. If your client asks for a deliverable Monday morning, ask for an extension until Tuesday afternoon. So you don't find yourself working on your well deserved weekend. And don't worry too much about reputation. Quality truly is the metric that matters most in my data employees who proactively asked for more time reported lower levels of stress and burnout and were seen as more committed and professional by their colleagues. These are small, but powerful changes to not only reframe rest, but to reclaim it. Once you discover the profound impact that these changes can have, you'll feel empowered to demand that others respect and accommodate your approach to time. Maybe they'll even feel inspired to piece together the fractured moments of their lives too. Hello, I'm Brian, Tracy. And today we're going to talk about a big subject one that everyone seems to struggle with and it's called work life balance. The first thing to understand about work life balance. Is that most people have the wrong idea of what that actually means. They think that their whole life should be balanced. They think they should have a little bit of word, kind, a little bit of play and a little bit of time on the weekends in order to improve the quality of their lives. When thinking about your quality of life, you have to ask yourself, what do you really want to do with your life? The great question. So here are four tips for time management that will help you to achieve a work life balance. And improve your quality of life. Number one, use the power of positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are what they call positive. Self talk are commands that you pass from your conscious mind to your subconscious mind that you either say out loud or say to yourself with emotion and enthusiasm to drive the words into your subconscious mind, sort of like a pile driver, it's sort of like instructing. To follow new operating instructions begin by repeating positive affirmations over and over to yourself. Such as I am excellent at time management. I am excellent at time management or I already have a balanced work in life. My favorite time management affirmation is I use my time. Well, I use my time. Well, I use my time. Just say that over and over. When you repeat positive affirmations over and over, they are eventually accepted by your subconscious mind as commands, just like you've programmed it. And then you'll find that your external behaviors on the outside will start to reflect your new internal programming. We say as within. So without now, tip number two in managing your time and achieving work life balance. If there is such a thing is to visualize your time management skills, mental pictures almost immediately influence your subconscious. So begin to see yourself as well, organized and efficient and effective in time management. We say mentally fake it before you make it so recall and recreate memories and pictures of yourself. When you were performing at your best and getting through enormous amounts of work through positive affirmations, you can create a picture of the upcoming event and see it unfolding perfectly in every respect. See yourself as calm, positive, happy, and incomplete control. See the other people doing and saying exactly what you would want them to do. If the situation was perfect, play this picture of yourself over it. Over again on the screen of your mind. Tip number three is take action based on your visualizations now that you have concentrated on and visualized what your day and your future will look like with proper time management, it's time for you to put it into action. You do this by working the entire time you are at work. When you walk into the office, you should work the entire time. You're there be pleasant and friendly to your coworkers. Get to work right away and work until you are finished. Peter Drucker says that if you spend more than 10% of your time socializing, your time is out of control. Now, by doing this going straight to work, you'll get on top of your work and will walk away feeling accomplished at the end of your day. When you don't have lingering tasks to worry about since you'll have worked as hard as you could have during your time in the office, you'll be left with plenty of quality time to spend with your friends and family.James:
Super interesting hearing those tips there. I think one thing for me in facing this problem is like, is, is having the boundaries there, right? We need to develop boundaries around when is work time and when is not work time. Uh, and I think if you, if you say, okay, my work hours are nine to five and then if I can't achieve the things that I'm being expected to achieve in that time, then I say to them, I'm currently occupied, or my plate is currently full. If you'd like me to take on this additional thing, then I'll need to subtract from the things that are already on my plate. Uh, and so that way you can keep the nine to five or whatever your work hours are, you can keep your work hours where they need to be. And so let let's say you're really busy. You've got a few things. Um, and then someone comes to you and is like, James, you know, I really want you to work on this project as well. Uh, and you say, and when you're thinking in your head, okay. If I take this on, I don't really have enough time And so like, that's gonna maybe me very stressed. And if I take this on, I'm probably gonna have to work more. I don't really wanna do that, but how do I say no to this person? I can't just be like, no, I don't wanna, I, I don't have time to work on your thing. Um, so there, there, perhaps a better way of going about this is saying. Hey, thanks so much for thinking of me, uh, with this piece of work looks super exciting. Um, I'd love to work on it, but at the moment, my plate is currently full. I've got this, this and this that I'm currently working on at the, at the moment I don't have, I won't be able to get the project that you're saying done. In the, in the right timeframe or with the suitable quality. Uh, so is it, if, if I'm gonna take this on, is there anything that you think, uh, I should, I can take off my blade, you know, to be able to take this on and do it well instead, so some type of conversation like that to be had around like, like that. When it comes to boundaries, I think that is going to, uh, you know, that that's quite important in protecting yourself from this kind of seat that that can happen where work just kind of the hours extend 10 minutes and then 10, 10, 10, and it just kind of keeps on going. And then before, you know what, you're working sort of seven to. Seven perhaps, uh, and you know, things and, and that's not where you wanna be. And, and so it's different. Like we're gonna talk about next. If that is something you actually want to do is work a seven till seven or whatever the hours that you wanna work are, uh, you know, it's different if that's not what you wanna do, but if it is what you wanna do, then we face a different problem, which brings us. To part two. So part two, as I mentioned, right at the start was we kind of have this split between when work life balance, when you're forced to work outside and then when you're not forced to work. And so now we're gonna talk about when you're not forced to work and this interesting idea, uh, that we as a society where as a culture have that work life and balance is means that, you know, people that work a long time have kind of got it wrong, you know, that. Their work life balance is taking a hit that, you know, they, they might be working lots, but oh, I, their work life balance must suck. And it's almost like this, uh, people who work lots are seen as, you know, bad in some ways, right. Because they're working, they're working so much and it's like, well, you know, how can, why, why would you choose to work? That's kind of weird. Uh, I try and work as most people work as little as possib. Choosing to work more is, is kind of strange. So this one is more for those people. that choose to work more. And, and here's some interesting thoughts perhaps about how work life balance, isn't perhaps what it sounds like, right. That work and life are perhaps. The same thing, you know, work and life are perhaps in, in harmony together as what we'll get to in a sec. So now we're gonna hear from Jeff Bezos and we're gonna hear from some other people about work life balance. Here we go.
How do you go about establishing that work life balance that everybody, you know, talks about and thinks about you've got, I mean, you live a big life, right. And how do you, how do you, I get this question a lot. I get it. I teach, um, senior executive, uh, kind of leadership classes at Amazon for our most senior. Uh, uh, execs and I also teach or not teach, but I also speak to, um, interns. So kind of all across the spectrum. And I get this question about work life balance all the time from, from both ends of the spectrum. And the, my view is I don't even like the phrase work life balance. I think it's misleading. I like the phrase work life harmony, because I know that if I am. Energized at work happy at work, feeling like I'm adding value, um, part of a team, whatever energizes you, that makes me better at home. It makes me a better husband, a better father. And likewise, if I'm happy at home, it makes me a better employee, a better boss, all the things it's not about, it's not primarily about, there may be crunch periods where it's about the number of hours in the week, but that that's not the Mo that's not the real thing. Usually it's about, do you have energy and is the, is your work depriving you of energy or is your work generating energy for you? And, you know, there are people, everybody in this room knows people. You. fall under these two camps, you're in a meeting and the person comes in the room. Some people come into the meeting and they add energy to the meeting. Other people come into the meeting and the whole meeting just deflates. And those people just. They, they, they drain energy from the meeting and you have to decide which of those kinds of people you're gonna be. Are you gonna add energy? Um, and the same thing at home and the same thing at home. And it's a, so it's a wheel, it's a psych, it's a flywheel, it's a circle. It's not a balance because a balance. That's why that metaphor is so dangerous because it implies there's a strict trade off. And, um, you could be out of work, have all the time for your family in the world, but really. Depressed and demoralized about your work situation and your family wouldn't wanna be anywhere near you. They would wish you would take a vacation from them. And so it's not about the number of hours, not primarily, I suppose, if you went crazy with, you know, a hundred hours a week or something yeah. That you maybe right. Maybe there are limits and they probably I've never had a problem. Um, and I think it's because both sides of my life give me energy and, and I, I, that's what I would recommend. That's what I do recommend to interns and execs.Michael:
So James, when you say do something for your employer, can you think of examples where you do something, which is only for your employer? In other words, you have personally nothing invested.James:
Hmm. Oh yeah. I'd say, yeah, it's a good point. And I think, even if it's, I'm just thinking of like a basic task, like, sending some emails or things like that, you're still, it's still a mutually beneficial relationship in that. Like they're paying you to do that. So that there's something in it for you in that sense, but even in terms of a career progression web looking at it, I guess there's a ways in the things that you do as still driving a career forward and maybe make you more able to be employed. What I do other things for other people. So I guess there's growing as skillset is also something that is beneficial to yourself as well.Michael:
Yeah, that was one of the woods I was hoping you would get to just to get the money for a while. But yeah, even things like a simple email has the potential to develop you around knowledge skills, and. Every interaction if you think of it that way. So coming back to my response to you in a funny sort of way, I don't see any more work-life balance because as I've had more time to read new things, since I retired from the partnership in 2008, I now see work very much as what you do whilst you waiting for the real joys in your life. And once you are in that space, I promise you, you will never think of it as work a guy. When you largely I'll answer a hundred percent, I've done like a, I have a book, but when you are a large. All of the thought that I really love doing this stuff. Yeah. This is Nate.Peter:
I love the people that I'm with. I love the opportunities that it's giving me to develop as a human being. Yeah. It makes me return to my family every day, a really decent human being. I no longer have any notions of leaving the work at the front door. So it makes sense.Peter:
and it's not easy. It's odd because there's so much in life that completes without attainment of that spice. And, I could start to. Some of the awful challenges that fuel generation adds about lifestyle and getting the sort of money that enables you to live in a particular way, and then being locked in your selves and those close to your about whatever else I do in life. I need a job that returns me. I a minimum of X dollars every month. And when young, when young lawyers picks up your point, which is going to look for honesty to it, when young lawyers from big law firms come to me and stay all my STIs admission of five-year, this isn't really for me. And I had to tell my parents, a lot of y'all in the M and a department of three Hills. So Dale I pop or something. I hate it. I absolutely heightened. And I cited them having fought and this money too, because if money is not terribly important to you, it was a lawyer, the world's your oyster.Peter:
But if the first thing you have to do is get a tick on not less than a hundred thousand dollars a year or $200,000 a year, or being on that slippery ladder to chop the ship. What will that stop? If all of that's there, then all you've done is closed off a huge number of options, which might not even want to include your authentic stone.Peter:
So I am uncomfortable with this concept of work life balance, um, because balance is achieved with two opposing forces and why should work and life be an opposition. Right. And, uh, I, I don't think there's, if you don't have work life balance, if you're struggling to find work life balance, no amount of yoga will fix that. Right. Um, taking off an extra week of vacation and by the way, vacation means you're not working on the beach. That's just telecommuting from a beach. Um, but I believe in, in, uh, that the, that you're able to build a life where work and personal life become, uh, not don't want you say interchangeable, but smooth. And what I mean by that is they're not necessarily confined by hours in a day, but rather where I choose to give effort. So for example, if it's four o'clock in the afternoon, technically part of the work day, and you're hanking for a run, cuz it's a day like this. you can go for a run mm-hmm like that's, you know, and one of the thi one of the mistakes that I've made was treating things that are important to my mind, my body, my spirit as Stu something that I'm suppo only supposed to do off hours or on weekends. Sure. But just like, I can't decide when I have an idea. Sometimes it's on Saturday and sometimes it's in the evening. Mm-hmm I also can't decide when I need a. sometimes it's something I feel that's something I plan for. And so we've gotten really good. It's imperfect, you know, sometimes responsibility takes precedence, but we have gotten really good in our little company that if somebody wants to take an afternoon to be with their kids, they put in their calendar with my kids a long time ago. I used to have, when I, when I had, um, a different form of business before all of this stuff, we used to have things called dove. which I, I, I can remember we had like five duvet days a year or something. And a duvet day was you wake up in the morning. You just don't want to come to work. You're totally healthy or it's a beautiful day. And I just would rather go to the beach. So you'd call up and leave a message at eight o'clock in the morning or seven o'clock in the morning, be like, Hey, I'm taking a duvet day, I'll see you tomorrow. And no one would bother you. Right. And people like, that's amazing that you do that sign. I'm like, people are doing that anyway. It's called, Hey, I think I have a 24 hour. I'm not gonna be at work today and they go to the beach. So just call it out. Um, you know, schedule time at the gym in the middle of the day, if that's when you like working out. And I just found the, the more seamless that we can make work in life. Um, the more we start to enjoy both more because they're not, they're not opposing.James:
Some great insights there. And I love the Bezos piece about work life harmony, and about how, you know, working can make you feel better, which makes you a better person at home, which makes you better at work. And it's kind of this flywheel where all these things are benefiting the other. Uh, I, I found a great tweet, Alex. Hamos who's. Business mobile, uh, offers a lot of great advice online and here's his tweet. He said, work life balance assumes you're not living when you work in my experience. It's been the opposite when I work, I live and I think that's a super, uh, fantastic tweet and, and something that. That we, that I guess those of us that wanna, wanna work more and pursue things and, and work harder and achieve, et cetera. You know, these things are not things to be ashamed of. Like choosing to work extra on the weekend is not something to be. You know, you don't have something wrong with you. If that's something you wanna do, right. If it's something that you wanna do, then you should do it. Okay. Uh, and don't let the, the chains of your friendship, groups, society, et cetera, hold you back from the things that you want to do, the things that you wanna achieve. Um, Cool. Well, well, that brings us to the end of the episode today. This one was an interesting episode. I think we covered some good ground when it comes to work life balance. It's an interesting conundrum is this idea of how much time should we spend on work and life. But I think what I've learned is that work and life are not distinct things they are related. They have, they have harmony between between them and that working better and doing work that gives you. Will make you better at your life will make you feel better at life, which will make you. And once you enjoy that, that, that life side of things, uh, that will make you better make you enjoy your work more, which will make you enjoy your life more, et cetera. And I think, I think these are some great points. So yeah, hopefully this episode was useful for you. The listener, if you did enjoy this episode, please consider subscribing to the graduate theory. Newsletter comes out every single week. We've got many episodes lined up for you. So please do that. And yeah, thanks again for joining us in this episode, looking forward to seeing you next week.