Our three-month challenge is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to give up on creating a healthy work/life balance. Truthfully, the journey is just beginning. Last year, we made a commitment to turn 2015 into a year of harmony for ThePlanetD. While chatting on a bus in Mexico with a few of the beautiful ladies from TripIt, we discussed the difficulties of today’s society. Modern technology is making it hard for anyone to ever fully unplug even while on vacation.
I believe one aspect is the fact that we’re expected to be available anytime of day no matter where we are or what we’re doing. But I also believe that another part of our stress is our addiction to social media and cell phones.
This proved true on the last day of our Caribbean cruise when we joined a group of people for breakfast. Nobody even looked up at us when we arrived at the table. Everyone was glued to their phones. I really don’t think that on an early Sunday morning of Easter weekend, they were needed at work. I don’t think there was anything that pressing that they needed to be staring at their phones and I would think that everyone would have a lot to talk about after sailing the beautiful Caribbean Sea for eight days. But instead, there was an awkward silence and rather than trying to make conversation, we joined the ranks of people looking at their phones for fear of interrupting their precious time on the Internet.
It takes making a conscious effort to unplug and create life balance in today’s world, but with a few simple steps, it can be done. Here are some ideas we’ve learned over the past three months of making a concerted effort to change.
(Photo courtesy of ThePlanetD)
Make a list of what you need to fix and how to fix it
We’re big list makers. I think it is important to sit down and brainstorm what parts of your life aren’t working. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you getting enough exercise? Are you working too much? Are you spending enough time with family? Make a note of everything and then put it into an order of priority. What is working and what isn’t working? Then begin to make a plan of how you can make changes. If you want to be more active, create a schedule of when you can fit a workout into your day. Or if you’re missing out on quality time with your loved ones, set aside an evening each week to do something meaningful together.
Take baby steps
One thing we’ve learned in life is that when many people decide to make a change they jump in with both feet and sink all their energy into making that happen. That’s great on paper, but it can be difficult to stick with it and follow through on the goal.
How many people do you know that have signed up for a gym membership, went seven days a week for the first week and then never went back again for another year? They gave up because it was too much to soon.
If you make subtle changes, it’s easier to stick with the plan. If you want to be active, start off by going for a walk or an easy jog. You can slowly work your way up to working out and then when you’re used to the routine of putting activity into your every day life, you can then join a gym or club.
I believe that a lot of people are overworked these days, no matter what their career choice. Many people can’t turn off when they get home from their jobs and constantly check their messages. Instead, make a point of stopping all work at a certain time. With auto-responses on email, you can tell people that you’re offline for the night and will respond tomorrow when you’re back in the office. Nobody is going to mind that you can’t reply right away; especially, if give them a heads up ahead of time.
Something we’ve also done is made sure to avoid social media in the evening. You don’t need to see what your friends are watching on TV—unless you’re live tweeting the Walking Dead—or what someone had for dinner that night. Turn off all push notifications, shut off the phone and focus on what’s important. You’ll find that you have a lot more time in your day than you realized. We have found that by shutting off at 6 pm each night, we’re more productive during the day. We don’t miss anything pressing in the evening and we get a better night’s sleep because we didn’t have the blue light affecting our sleep patterns and we weren’t stressed by something we read on the Internet.
Just say no
I think that we’ve become a “yes” society. But often we say yes to the wrong things. We’re not saying yes to an adventure, taking a chance on a new relationship or going off on an exciting getaway. We say yes to things that we think we should do.
Often times as entrepreneurs, we take on too much. We say yes to every opportunity that comes our way for fear of missing out. FOMO (fear of missing out) has actually become a popular term in today’s world. What kind of life is that that you need to be everywhere all the time because you’re afraid something great will happen because you aren’t there?
Instead, focus on what is important to you. Do you really need to go to five events a week just to show your face in the industry? Do you really need to take on every project, attend every conference or join every social media group? Instead, focus on things that you’re passionate about, be the trailblazer and the one leading the way. You won’t have a fear of missing out, because you’re doing exactly what you want to do.
We have found that by saying no, we have the time to focus on creative ideas and are doing things that we’re passionate about, like our balance project with TripIt! We’re happier and more relaxed and proud of the work we’re producing.
Surround yourself with positive people
When we were younger we used to have a lot of friends that brought us down. Dave and I have always been dreamers and whenever we had ideas, we got a lot of “Why would you do that?” We slowly distanced ourselves from the negatives in our lives and instead joined things like cycling groups, a climbing gym and a photography club. Once we started hanging out with like-minded people, we were inspired. We no longer felt that our dreams were silly fantasies, we saw that they could become a reality. Friends are important, but you want to make sure that your friends lift you up and support your ideas. If they aren’t, it’s easy to find like-minded people out there. Groups and local clubs are a great way to start.
We’re starting our fourth month of creating balance in our lives and it’s an on-going struggle. We lapse into old habits, have set backs and we didn’t achieve every goal we set out to do, but we’re slowly reaching a space in our lives that we want to be in. Awareness is the first step and once we realized that our life was out of balance, we knew that we had to make changes. Just because our challenge is over online for the entire world to read about, it doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop creating a quality life. This is something we’ll be working on for the rest of our lives and we hope that you do too!