What’s Drucker got to do with Work/Life Balance?

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I’ve been hearing  quite a few New Years resolutions  lately and noticed a common theme: the desire to spend more time with kids/spouse/family.

Work/life balance is a huge problem for many people up and down the workplace ladder.  I believe changing long held norms begins when HR starts advocating and defending work/life balance policies. Let’s be honest though,  that may not be happening at your company.  We’ve all either heard of or experienced working at the company that espoused flexibility and balance,  only to find a different story when you talk with actual employees.

Regardless of your company norms  you still hold a significant amount of power in determining how your time at work and outside of work is spent.

To give you some background lets start with a favorite quote of mine from Peter Drucker‘s book, The Effective Executive:

 One cannot buy, rent or hire more time. The supply of time is totally inelastic. No matter how high the demand, the supply will not go up. There is no price for it. Time is totally perishable and cannot be stored. Yesterday’s time is gone forever, and will never come back. Time is always in short supply. There is no substitute for time. Everything requires time. All work takes place in, and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable and necessary resource.

When I read this quote a couple things come to mind immediately:

  • You “cannot buy, rent or hire more time” but you can buy, rent or hire something or someone to take on the mundane tasks in your life.  This could be as easy as setting up email rules that allow you to route emails from certain people or with certain subject lines to various folders.  This helps keep your email organized and you can tackle emails by their urgency. I have set up email rules that send anything from my manager to a folder I would check first thing every morning.  Those emails were always addressed first instead of having to wade through 100 other emails. Another  good resource for time saving tips is lifehacker.
  • “Time is always in short supply” – this quote should be plastered on my computer screen.  I’m like most of you,  I’m always stressing about the lack of time I have.   The important thing to remember is that time is always and will always be in short supply.  You are never going to be in a place where you have the luxury (and money) to do everything you want to do.  Accept this fact and move on to prioritizing how you spend the finite amount of time you have.
  • “Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable and necessary resource.”  What are you doing to maximize one of the most limited resources you have? Do you maximize the hours you are at work to pack in as much value in those hours as you can? Or are you standing around for 30 minutes every morning talking about last nights episode of The Voice?  Would you buy a car that leaked  gas equivalent to 30 minutes of travel time? No! Think about your time the same way you think of gas: it’s finite and limited so you need to make the most of it by monitoring how you use it.

It’s important to realize that everyone struggles with Work/Life balance.  No matter the policy implemented (and it’s support or lack thereof)   you will always feel a struggle.  Realize there are things out of your control but YOU ultimately own your time.  It is fleeting and irreplaceable. How are you going to make the most of it?

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