Live to Work or Work to Live?

elephant-balanceDo you live to work or work to live?”

I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately. My goal is, 100%, to work to live. I’ve built a lot of habits in order to keep the Balance tipped on the Work To Live side of things. I know many people struggle with this, because, unfortunately, money makes the world go round. But I refuse to live only two weeks out of 52 every year.

1. Be Here Now

I’ve heard this phrased a lot of ways, but I think those three words say it best. It does take some discipline though. It’s not an overnight thing, it’s a habit. Starting out, every time I thought about something that wasn’t relevant to my current activity, I had to tell myself “No” and file it away for later. Now, 3 years later, I find it much easier to concentrate on the task at hand, and tend to finish projects much more efficiently since I’m not side-tracked every couple minutes by my mind.

For example, when I’m not at work, I’M NOT AT WORK! I don’t think about it. I don’t do it. I don’t check my email. I don’t run errands. I probably won’t even answer my work phone. (Sacrilege in sales, I know…) My old boss at OfficeMax was constantly annoyed that I didn’t check my phone after I finished for the day. The night before we went to Texas for the 2013 sales kick-off, she sent an email at like 10:30 pm listing a few things that we should bring. I, of course, did not read this until I was at the airport the next morning. Too late! But, when all the dust settled, I wasn’t any worse for the wear. If it had really been important, I would have known about it prior to the night before anyway.

2. Be Organized with Your Time

One of the ways I’m able to be comfortable doing this is because I’ve worked to become very time organized. I tend to have a lot going on at any given time, so I just write down all the pieces in my planner. I happen to like doing this on paper (for a lot of reasons, but that’s a different post), however, I know many people do this through technology. It doesn’t really matter how you keep track, but it’s important to have a way to stay accountable for everything you need to get done.

Whenever I think of something I need to do that’s not part of what I’m currently working on, I just write it down and assign it the correct priority level. I also take up to 15 minutes at the beginning and end of each day to plan and review, and make any changes that I haven’t yet had a chance to make in my list. After three years of ‘filing’ info for later, and then pulling it up at a specific point in my day, it’s pretty rare that I miss getting anything written down.

Because I essentially live by what I write down, I know it’ll all get done. I don’t have to worry about it during My Time. Every day I do my best to get through the list, and if for whatever reason I don’t, I’ll transfer it to the next day.

3. Do For Yourself

Even doing the above, if all I did was go home and watch TV every day, I still won’t really feel like I’m living. So, while it might be comfortable to be a lazy couch potato, go do something. Learn about something interesting, take a class, meet friends for dinner, play with your pet, go for a walk. Just go have an experience of some kind. Whether the results are good, or you find out you disliked the adventure, you walk away stronger than you were beforehand.

That being said, don’t forget to take time to rest and recuperate. I love lazy days in bed watching movies, once in a while. But at least 80% of the time, I try to do something interesting. They say it takes 30+ days to learn create a new habit, so challenge yourself and see how you come out at the end.

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