I’d finally got the balance right.
After struggling for years with time management, focus and some self-doubt - I’d finally developed rock solid techniques to balance a full-time career, full-time degree, athletic training and maintaining a relationship and social life.
Getting the balance right was tough at the start. I’d completed eight years of military training while doing iron man triathlons, an engineering degree while deployed in the Middle East, a Uni thesis while at the world championships in Hawaii. I landed my job with Accenture shortly after getting engaged and travelled the world with my fiancée.
Over the years I’d developed some key work-life balancing tools to help me focus and succeed.
But when my twin babies arrived 16 months ago all those learnings went out the window. It was my kids who made the decisions and when they wake up all our planning is thrown.
No amount of military training could have prepared me and my wife and I had to redesign and rethink the work-life strategies we’d developed over the years.
Almost 1.5 years into parenthood and two years into my job at Accenture – we are finally getting the balance back.
But calling on my old techniques from my military and ironman days have helped hugely with juggling fatherhood and a career. Here are some of my top tips:
This is the most important one. Understand what you can and can’t do. Don’t overcommit to things you can’t see through. Don’t make such ambitious plans that when you can’t do it you feel let down.
Compartmentalise to focus
Being able to completely compartmentalise and focus on what I’m doing right now has been so important for me. I used to find that I would be studying and thinking about exercising or training and thinking about work. I couldn’t get the balance right and found it challenging to focus. So, I learned how to compartmentalise. To be in the here and now. I treat every task that I’m doing as if it is my one and only job. For example, when I pick up the kids from day care – for those couple of hours that is my one and only priority – hugs, kisses, getting them washed, getting them fed – all those little things are my highest priority. It’s quite a relief because it allows me to stop thinking about work. Being able to block out all the things that don’t relate to what I’m trying to achieve right now is a relieving. So find ways that when you’re at work, you’re at work. When you’re at home, you’re at home. However, you decide to do that I think is really important.
Understand that you have the control
If you want to work 80 hours a week, if you want to find excuses to work 80 hours a week - you can find them. Everyone has the option to work 80 hours a week if we want. But it’s up to you to take control of what it is you want to do. It all comes back to you. You have the control. If you’re working too many hours and it isn’t working for you – figure out how you can you change it, what do you have to do to make it work. Don’t rely on other people – your boss, your partner, your colleague – to fix it for you.
Communicate. People aren’t mind readers.
In order to take control, you need to communicate. Sometimes your supervisor doesn’t know all the other stuff that is going on for you. Especially in Accenture, 80% of our job is what we get paid to do, the other 20% is other things such as extracurricular or community work which takes time. Communicating to your superiors and your peers about where you’re at is key to taking that control. Sometimes we are so focused on our own work we don’t know what others have on their plate.
Reflection is so important
What I’ve noticed since joining Accenture is that the people I work with are all ambitious, we constantly want to achieve, to better ourselves, challenge and improve ourselves. It’s great but very often it’s that drive to be the best which can throw out our work-life balance. Spending too much time at the office, or constantly thinking about what you’re going to achieve next. Instead, reflect on what you have achieved over the past 6 months, year or five years. This was a major help for me to calm any anxiety and allow me to appreciate the here and now. Again it’s a relief from the default “I’ve got so much more I want to achieve.”