• May 25, 2020
  • BY velocity

Coaching Template #3 – Working Life BalancING and Priority Management

The setup: To achieve a steady state of work life balance or fully optimized

time management cadence is not possible.  And it is never smart to pursue or desire the impossible.   There are some days/weeks/months in which you need to work more based on a deadline or some pressing need.  There are some days/weeks/months in which you need to be at home more or more physically and mentally present in your personal life. It just never works out to where you can be in balance at all times.  

Too often people swing to the extremes.  They work too much or they are completely lazy in their work.   Or people waste time trying to save time and/or are not proactive or self-aware to better manage their priorities.  And therefore, most people struggle with balancing their personal lives and careers.  Implementing balancing habits and corrective templates to more effectively managing your priorities and time will results in being more balanced.  

Bottom line on this one… Balancing requires discipline, awareness, reflection, planning and thought.  It also takes the desire to want a more balanced life. Many people will say they want to work less or “work smarter.”  Or they want more time at home or more time just not working…but be careful of those that say it but do not really want what they say.  If a person has their identity wrapped up in their career or is miserably unhappy in their personal life, they don’t have the will to work on balancing.  So, before you go down the path of the coaching questions below, ensure there is a clear and honest will to work on balancing and make tangible changes.

Coaching Questions/Exercises:

Profile your time on an average week or random week in the past and future.  Use your calendar to ensure you get as accurate as possible based on facts versus guessimation (which is almost always wrong in this case).  Categorize the time into a few macro buckets.  What do these buckets tell you about your priorities?

Profile direct reports – grade them, discuss time required for each, their output, etc (see previous coaching template on Talent Optimization) 

Let’s review your current to-do list.  For every task, apply these questions:

1) what happens if you don’t do it?

2) what happens if you push out 30 days?

3) who can you delegate that task to? 

4) which one of your S.M.A.R.T. goals does this task directly align to?

Now how does your to-do list look?  More manageable?

What can you stop doing in both your work and personal life?   If you stopped doing that, how many hours a week would that free up?

Do you have trouble saying no?   If so, why?

Are you trying to prove yourself?  Who are you trying to prove yourself to?

Discuss where you want more time?  Work, personal hobbies, at home, with friends or family?

Discuss how the following could be applied to give you more time or make you more efficient: 

  • Conducting 20 and 40 minute meetings vs 30 and 60 minute meetings
  • Turn off all email and news alerts to keep you focused on the current task at hand and reduce distraction.  
  • Calendaring – make entries into calendar for rest of year for tasks or meetings like your 1:1s and coaching sessions 

If your coachee is a people leader, it almost always comes down to one of four things causing the imbalance: 

  1. Self Induced: They don’t actually want balance and they thrive off of chaos or 

being overwhelmed and busy.  If this is the case, it’s a whole separate coaching discussion.

  • Talent: 
    • They need to reorganize their talent/team (reorg)
    • They need to coach their team on a more consistent basis  
    • They need to upgrade people on their team 
  • They need to have a formal process to regularly assess priorities, optimize their time and analyze how they are spending time  
  • They are understaffed or taking on more than they can handle based on the available hours in a day

Never aim for a balance, life will never be balanced, it is always a “balancing” journey.

Assess your balance on a consistent basis, expand your ability to handle stress and effectively shift the balance when out of whack.

Experience Share: Dave was a classic workaholic.  He could not admit he was but when I tracked his schedule over a few month period, it was clear that he was addicted to working excessive hours (classic workaholic for sure).   But as always, there was more to the story.  As I walked Dave through the coaching questions above, we jointly discovered that Dave was in an infinite loop of trying to prove himself to his wife.  Dave was actually incredibly efficient, which gave him time back to spend outside of work.  But, as I dug deeper into why he was trying to prove himself to his wife, he gave me a backstory and some history that clearly spelled out why he was working so many hours.  It all boiled down to the fact that he did not want his wife thinking that he was not willing to go above and beyond to provide for his family.  This infinite loop was never really defined or understood by Dave, much less discussed with his wife.  His “addiction” was: 

a) hurting the relationship with his wife 

b) hurting the relationship with his kids  

c) setting a horrible example for his team, who were feeling the pressure of working similar hours and he had some unwanted attrition on his team in the last year based on this

d) not helping the company as the extra hours were not adding value

e) and the list of negatives goes on.   

Dave and I talked out how he could discuss the subject with his wife and start to make some concrete changes.  A few days later, Dave talked to his wife about why he was working so much and his wife was extremely apologetic for her actions and words that were perpetuating the infinite loop of proving himself to her.  The pressure was relieved and Dave immediately started to reduce the late nights at the office and as expected… 

a) the relationship with his wife dramatically improved and his work was not a toxic wedge in their relationship

b) for the first time in a while, he was able to be present with his kids at night  

c) he talked to his team about the changes he was making and the engagement of his team significantly improved, and he had no unwanted attrition over the next year

d) and the list of positives goes on.

Our careers should enhance our personal lives, not negatively impact our relationships and quality of life.  Work life balancing is always possible and achievable as long as a coachee desires more of a balance.

What a great example of how coaching makes a positive impact in a coachee’s professional and personal lives.