Healthy Diet, Healthy Mind


You’ll have no trouble finding people who choose what they eat with the hope of losing weight. A pretty significant number also follow a diet meant to support a training regimen, but how many people you know keep their brain health in mind when shopping for groceries?


That organ in your skull where “you” reside needs nutrition, too. To begin with, the brain burns about 300 calories a day – about the same as walking three miles. Unlike muscle tissue, however, it needs some particular nutrients to function most effectively. Just as is the case with other organs, a number of minerals and organic compounds are needed for it to function at its peak. Unlike other organs, if brain function is anything other than optimal, the effects can quickly affect your level of comfort, ranging from low energy and moodiness right up to diagnosable mental illness. If you think you might be suffering from the latter, eating an avocado is unlikely to cure you overnight. By all means, eat for wellness, but don’t neglect other forms of treatment.


The good news is that eating for cerebral and mental health means pretty much the diet you should already be following, perhaps with a few tweaks. Eating low-GI meals and staying away from sugary snacks will keep your blood sugar from see-sawing, already going a long way towards stabilizing mood and improving concentration. Still on the subject of macronutrients, eating carbohydrates boost production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, decreasing anxiety; while food high in protein can boost alertness for several hours. With stress being one of the chief drains on our mental energy, even leading to mild inflammation of the brain, choosing workplace snacks based on your mood is not the worst idea.


Particularly for smokers, maintaining adequate folate levels is extremely important, and neglecting this can contribute towards depression. Luckily, kale, spinach, lentils and beans are all good sources of this chemical. In addition, sufficient levels of B vitamins are essential for nerve tissue to work correctly. This can be a problem for vegetarians, particularly B12. Supplements may help, but as it turns out, many vegetarian protein sources are high in B vitamins, though it might still be a good idea to make sure you eat sufficient leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, avocado and dairy.


Just like they’re essential to every part of your body, antioxidants play a major role in brain health, so berries, fruit, herbs and a variety of surprising sources (like capers and garlic) can certainly find their way onto your plate. Keep in mind that there are numerous different types of antioxidants, each with a different function, so variety is as important as quantity. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are also hugely important to brain health, so a little oily fish, a few free-range eggs, or a handful of seeds or nuts a few times a week can work wonders. Bone broth is extremely cheap to make, and gives you omega fats as well as a whole laundry list of nutrients your body might be short of.


While eating for mental health can mean incorporating a few new superfoods in your diet, remember that a healthy diet is always a varied one. A meal consisting of shrimp and broccoli stirfry over brown rice is healthy, but eating nothing else will soon leave you malnourished. Experiment a little instead of eating the same dishes day after day.


Meditation for Managers


Everybody has stress in their lives, certainly at work. What many people fail to realize is that unexpected and unfortunate things are bound to happen, but stress, anxiety, anger and discouragement are states of mind – internal to ourselves. The first step to learning how to controlling our emotions is to make this distinction between circumstances outside ourselves and possibly outside our control, and our inner lives, which all of us can more or less get a grip on.


The second thing to realize is that there is a difference between mind and consciousness. The mind is the whole movie, the entire painting; consciousness is what part we are watching, or what detail we’re focusing on. These are only rough definitions, or a case of making language fit concepts it wasn’t really designed for. Before we get into pointless and unanswerable questions like “Are my mind and I different things?”, let’s see what the practical benefits of meditation are.


Mindfulness as a Business Tool


Meditation is becoming ever more mainstream as a way of handling stress, avoiding unnecessary anxiety and improving memory, concentration and decision-making skills. When a person is agitated, his consciousness is less under his control – the movie keeps skipping back and forth so that it’s impossible to pay full attention to any one scene.


Mindfulness” is an awkward word that essentially means thinking about how you’re thinking and feeling. One example of mindfulness is to become aware of your emotions taking over before losing your temper and counting to ten instead. Mindfulness meditation is a way of exercising this faculty; just like a bodybuilder will do squats to improve his muscular strength, training your brain to keep an eye on itself makes doing so easier and more automatic in the future.


Practice Makes Perfect

Meditating for increased mindfulness essentially means finding somewhere quiet, turning off the phone for five minutes and closing your eyes while sitting comfortably. Then, instead of thinking nothing, which is almost impossible, simply let your thoughts more or less travel as they will. The mindfulness part of this exercise means observing what these thoughts are, with one caveat: it’s important not to say yes or no to any thought or feeling. Try not to push uncomfortable thoughts aside or start an argument with yourself, just observe.


The way in which this skill assists managers in doing their jobs is that a person who knows what he’s thinking can view a situation and his reaction to it more objectively, better identify what factors are most important and make a decision more calmly. Meditation is not a fad or a euphemism for doing nothing; it is a valuable mental tool much like mnemonic tricks used to remember things better. Meditation, on the other hand, seems to improve everything from creative thinking, propensity to addiction, clinical depression and the ability to concentrate for longer. Even sessions of as short as a minute have been shown to yield these effects.


Other Kinds of Meditation

Everybody’s different, and so there are also numerous types of meditation other than specifically training for mindfulness. Some involve physical movement, focused breathing and a pseudo-scientific life substance called qi; tai chi and yoga are examples of these. Other types of meditation rely on repeating a phrase or sound, focusing on an object or geometrical design, or simply stopping thought while still remaining fully aware.


Whatever the specific technique, the end result involves having less stress, a better understanding of how a person feels about various issues and better powers of concentration. Our thoughts love to get stuck in a rut, re-hashing the same semi-logical sequence without managing to find a way to resolve a problem. Mentally unplugging from this loop for just a few minutes stops this futile cycle allows us to return to the decision with fresh eyes and a consciousness that zeroes in on that which we actually want to consider.

How CEOs Structure Their Day


Life at the top of the corporate heap may be rewarding, but it is also just as challenging as can be expected. The most successful executives also tend to be those who put in a frighteningly high number of hours each week. These individuals are expected to make critical decisions on a daily basis, often with insufficient information or time to think, and they have no-one to turn to for advice when they aren’t sure what to do. They communicate with more than a hundred people each day, and may have to chat cheerfully with a client one minute, and then negotiate aggressively with a supplier the next without allowing the emotions from one conversation to affect the other. The level of pressure, the load of responsibility and the amount of self-discipline required to do this successfully, day after day and year after year, is difficult to imagine.


It is often enlightening to learn more about something by studying its extremes. If you wanted to improve your race time, you wouldn’t be interested in what the majority of average runners eat or how they train, but rather try to find out what approaches the best in the world follow. Similarly, anyone who is interested in being successful at work while still finding time for their families, and managing to do all of this without going bonkers, will likely find some useful lessons from those at the corporate apex.


Trend No. 1: They Stick to Their Schedule

One of the most significant common denominators amongst the most successful of businessmen is not that they plan their day ahead of time, but that they follow that plan, often to the minute. A meeting that is scheduled to end at 11:40 simply has to, otherwise it will start eating into the few minutes allocated to preparation for the next. 


This may seem like a handy excuse to get rid of people who won’t stop talking, but there’s another aspect to this: snooze buttons don’t exist in the CEO world. If they have ten minutes to absorb a 100 page report, they will spend those minutes doing exactly that to the best of their ability, whether this means skimming it, asking someone to summarize the main points or otherwise making the best possible use out of those 600 seconds. If the typical CEO won’t tolerate another person’s being late, it is also something he can rarely be accused of himself.


Trend No. 2: Family Is Important

When surveyed, spending more time with family was the single activity occupying most of the average CEO’s time, after work and sleep. It was also what a quarter of those polled admitted to wanting to do more of, if they could.


It’s no surprise that the divorce rate is higher than average for CEOs; it would be too much to expect that they can simply switch their business personas off and on at will. However, they do make the effort to insulate their work lives from their families as much as possible, and treat time at home as valuable.


Trend No. 3: They Work Out

Stress clouds a person’s judgment, lets their emotions run out of control, ruins concentration and can easily wreck their health. The average daily time a CEO spends on exercise is nearly an hour, meaning that for each one that doesn’t make the time to exercise, some other puts in a full 120 minutes at the gym.


On the next occasion your mind tries to convince you that you don’t have time to work up a sweat, remember that people working 60 hours a week or more somehow manage it on a regular basis. Someone who wants to be smart, dynamic and more creative has to make exercise a regular part of their lives.


Trend No. 4: Taking Time to Read

The average CEO spends as much as a fifth of their working time reading reports and other corporate documents, which explains why their reading rate tends to be significantly higher than that of the average adult. What is surprising is that they also read many more books outside of work.


While some prefer business books, others read fiction to relax or works that help them develop personally. History and biographies are also popular choices.



It seems clear that part of the path to success is to put in the requisite effort – and this can mean a very great deal of effort. However, it doesn’t look like simply spending more time working is some kind of magical key; equally important is how this time organized and directed, and not losing sight of the other important stuff along the way to achievement.

Hack Time, Hack Money


There are 86,400 seconds in a day, so why do we often go to sleep feeling anxious about not having achieved anything? Of course, you’ve just spent 30 of those seconds checking to see if the above figure is correct, while almost 30,000 more of them are spent sleeping (or trying to). If your daily commute takes an hour and you like to spend four hours each day just relaxing, that leaves you with about forty thousand seconds to get on with things. Assuming that work takes 8 hours out of that, there still remains more than ten thousand seconds to fill with the things that make your life better, or will in the future, meaning three hours to eat, study, dream and think. 


Looking at it in these terms, twenty-four hours can seem like a lot, yet most days seem to fly by before you can say “productivity”. Four hours of pure relaxation almost seems like too much, while we can easily fit meals, shopping and arguing with strangers on the internet into three hours. The key to filling our days with achievement and actually enjoying those four hours of relaxation is not only about working harder, making lists or giving up the things we like, but instead lies in learning the habits of time efficiency. An interesting exercise is to keep a notebook in your pocket for a week and log what every ten-minute block is being spent on. Tallying up the results at the end of the week may be surprising: those phone calls you hate to make may only average a minute per day, while television probably eats more seconds than you imagined.


Avoid Interruptions

When we focus on a task, the information we need, where we are and what we’re aiming for all remain at the forefront of our minds. In this “zone”, it seems that problems can be solved with a flick of a mouse (or sidelined for later attention), we remember work we did years ago that happens to be applicable in this case, and we make progress as if sliding along ice. The moment this concentration is broken, we’re back to where we started, mentally, and regaining our prior motivation and laser-sharp attention takes several minutes even with our best efforts.


Most interruptions are not actually the result of legitimate breaks or the phone ringing, but rather self-induced. Bored with staring at this spreadsheet? Let’s check the inbox for the twentieth time today! Tired of reading? Time for some coffee, and making a fresh pot, and possibly a trip to the vending machine as well.


One innovative way of training ourselves not to hop out of our most productive mental zone is the Forest app. As you start it, a digital seed is planted and a tree starts to grow. If you touch your smartphone before a set period of time has passed, though, the tree dies and you feel a little like a murderer. Definitely recommended for those who have trouble staying off social media.


Spend less Time Waiting

There would be a Monty Python skit about standing in queues, if the amount of time lost to this inactivity weren’t such a tragic subject. While some time spent waiting for others is inevitable, making a habit of avoiding this loss will pay off hugely in the long run. Automating routine payments, visiting the post office once a week instead of daily, and asking for a call back rather than holding the line are all easy to do, yet people who aren’t aware of time never realize this. If you are spending too much time waiting in line, arrange to take your lunch break in the late afternoon and finally see what an empty bank branch looks like, or ask a cashier what times your favorite supermarket is least crowded.


Depending on your budget, a personal online assistant can help with doing things like answering routine email, searching for data on the internet and managing mundane but time-consuming tasks like data entry and collation. If this is not enough to free up sufficient time for you to actually have a life in, consider looking into concierge services for things such as buying groceries, picking up dry cleaning while the place is still open and walking the dog. While professional concierges (or “lifestyle managers”) can cost a fortune, many students, retirees and others are making ends meet by using their cars and their spare time to run errands for others.


Guard Your Free Time with a Flaming Sword

If you do not possess a flaming sword, roll up a magazine and use it to smack colleagues who phone you during the weekend with the words “I was just wondering”. You are obligated to be at work, thinking about work, during the time specified in your contract, but nobody ever established their personal happiness by slavish devotion to the interests of others. It is rarely a good idea to help others with their tasks before finishing your own.


The biggest enemy of productivity at work is not pointless meetings, slow internet or solitaire, but the time wasted by not knowing where to start on a project, browsing Facebook rather than getting on with an unpleasant task, making careless mistakes and other symptoms of fatigue and frustration. If you believe that how much you finish matters more than how much time you spend working on it, and that doing things right is better than doing them repeatedly, you will realize that stress and lack of personal time are not the symptoms of working hard, but of working badly. 



When an Online Course Can Help You Get Ahead

Time is money, but knowledge is also power. In the days before the internet, someone wishing to expand his skill set would have to take time away from work or relaxation to attend a course, or gather knowledge the hard way, by working through a book on their own without being able to ask for explanations or knowing how well they really understand the material.


The situation is completely different today: for little more than the cost of a good textbook, anyone can attend a virtual course offered by video, audio and lecture notes. Lecturers are available to answer questions, progress can be checked through assignments and tests, and many courses offer bankable diplomas or academic credits.


A student can do the necessary work on their own time, although the amount of time demanded is no less than in a traditional setting. Most impressively, the number of disciplines covered is simply amazing, and a course on almost anything can be found that requires no academic prerequisites.


Core, Supplemental and Meta Knowledge

An engineer who already understands circuit design might want to know more about how next-generation components work at a molecular level; this would be an example of gaining core knowledge. A lawyer could realize that the scope of the work he takes on can be wider if he also understands accounting; this is what is meant by supplemental knowledge. On the other hand, a manager might want to study practical psychology. This is not part of his main job description, but will give him skills that can help do his work better in a way that’s difficult to quantify. Finally, there is “meta” knowledge, which is not about information as such but concerns the way in which we approach work and learning. Many professionals could benefit from improved memory, better time management or knowing how to handle stress better; all of these are meta-skills.


Secondary Qualifications

It is often a very good move professionally to gain a diploma in a field completely separate from what a person is most qualified in. For instance, an accountant may either choose to spend a year and thousands of dollars obtaining an advanced degree in his own field, or he could choose to familiarize himself with something as far out as petroleum geology.


Let’s say he chose the first option: instead of competing with thousands of applicants for any new job, his resume will now land in a pile only a few hundred high. He can command a higher salary, but not dramatically so when compared to the time and effort spent on gaining a master’s degree, and he will probably be expected to work harder, solve more complex problems and take on much more responsibility than before.


On the other hand, spending a few hundred hours on an introductory course in something completely unrelated will not only be much cheaper, but probably mentally easier as well. It will have no impact on his desirability or remuneration as far as his primary function is concerned, but when an opportunity arises requiring knowledge of both fields, the job is his almost automatically. When this is combined with other sought-after traits, such as fluency in a second language or experience in a certain industry, he will literally be the only man for the job.



Anyone who spends a great deal of time behind the wheel actually has heaps of time available to broaden their mind. Even without having to spend time in a classroom, virtual or otherwise, anyone can inform, entertain or educate themselves by iPhone.


Listening through a book takes much longer than reading it, but can be done simultaneously with any activity that requires little attention: jogging, driving or watching sports on TV. Someone may choose to learn more about subjects ranging from business to botany, or choose to relax with a work of fiction. While this might not sound like education, a good story can be as interesting as a conversation, and improves verbal skills like vocabulary.



Tips to Improve Your Work/Life Balance

There are plenty of get rich quick schemes out there, but the only ones who have gotten rich in that way are the con artists who run them. When talking about get happy quick schemes, you could make a similar point about drug dealers.


As far as real success, real wealth and true happiness is concerned, we can basically take it as a given that real work and true commitment form part of the deal. The dilemma is that very few people desire only one solitary thing. You might want your business to succeed, but not at the cost of your marriage failing. You might want to invest a large sum in a property, but doing so will mean giving up the chance to see Europe this year. Almost every choice we make is not between wanting or not wanting something, but about how much we want it relative to other things that will bring us joy.


Ancient myths abound to caution us about the dangers of obsession: Agamemnon literally sacrificed his daughter for a military victory, only to be killed by his wife in revenge. Midas was granted his wish that everything he touched would turn to gold, but he starved to death since all food turned to precious metal before he could eat it. The morals of these stories are not exactly that we should be careful what we wish for – instead, the lesson is that we shouldn’t ignore the other things that are also important to us.


  1. Schedule Your Time

Numerous entrepreneurs and high performers have succeeded in their chosen path only to have their lives simultaneously fall apart without them noticing. Everyone who has seriously tried it will agree that planning meetings, sales calls and other tasks in advance and assigning a time block to each makes work much more efficient, but it isn’t immediately clear that the same thing applies to striking a balance between productive time, family, hobbies and all the other things a well-rounded, enjoyable life consists of.


One possible approach to this is to simply consider any time not allocated to a specific task as family or relaxation time. This could work, but there will always be that temptation to stay at the office just a little bit longer, or spend just a little more time studying while your spouse is already waiting at the dinner table. Birthdays and anniversaries should receive special attention in your personal calendar.


  1. Be More Productive

It’s simplistic and unhelpful to assume that having more free time necessarily means doing less work. The work/life balance is not about sacrificing one in favor of the other; the goal is to make room for them both in terms of time and energy. Working smarter instead of harder frees up both for the activities that mean most to your happiness.

How exactly a person can become more productive depends heavily on their individual circumstances. A good starting point would be to take an inventory of time spent on activities versus the actual outcomes that can be expected from them.


  1. Health Always Comes First

No imaginable lifestyle is worth having if achieving it leaves you a physical wreck. Time spent on good nutrition, exercise and relaxation – mental health is also important – should be seen as an investment, not a waste. 


There are few hacks for this aspect of work/life balancing. If your job is causing you so much stress that you are showing physical symptoms such as muscle spasms or indigestion, it is time to either find new ways of dealing with tension, or rethink the value of having such a job.


  1. When Relaxing, Relax 

It can be extremely difficult to leave all thoughts of work behind after 8, 10 or more hours fixating on it, but this is an essential skill to learn. Any time spent worrying about work while at home not only spoils your enjoyment of “me” time, it does nothing to help you solve whatever problems are confronting you. Sleeping on them instead is much more likely to reveal an unexpected solution.



What to Do when Burnout Draws Near


More than one professional in various fields has one day simply not come into work, disappeared while on a business trip or screamed out his resignation letter to his colleagues. This is common enough to have its own name, and is something everyone in a job involving high, persistent levels of stress is at risk of.

Long hours, high expectations and the occasional crisis will sap the emotional reserves of anyone sooner or later, especially when breaks from the strain are few and far between. The good news is that it is quite possible to bounce back from the early stages of burnout, which relies on a person realizing what warning signs should be looked out for.


Signs of Approaching Burnout

Burnout rarely makes itself known suddenly or over the course of an hour. Many people have a small freakout in the office as the result of an unexpected setback or frustrating situation, but this is not what burnout generally refers to.


Much more often, the main symptoms appear gradually over some time: listlessness, low motivation and energy, and a general sense of gloom and helplessness. If someone feels exhausted, unappreciated and uninterested, not just occasionally but every day, an impending burnout is very likely. This is especially true if the severity of these symptoms has been increasing gradually.

As chronic stress causes physical changes in the body – elevated blood pressure, muscular tension and high levels of certain hormones – physical symptoms are also likely. The most common of these are headaches, back or neck pain, and frequent colds and other infections due to an impaired immune system.

Much of the above may make it seem like a person is overly stressed and that’s all there is to it. Burnout is a separate kind of mental state, though. Someone “merely” suffering from dangerous levels of stress is likely to seem hyper-emotional, anxious or angry, but someone heading for burnout will generally lose all hope for the future, interest in his responsibilities and the capacity to feel happy or in control of his life.

Things to Do to Avert Burnout


The first and often most helpful thing to do is to approach a human resources worker or manager and explain that you are suffering from excessive stress. Issues relating to workplace stress are some of the most common problems faced by employees, and companies will nowadays often be surprisingly accommodating when it comes to offering counseling services, vacation days or a reduced workload. If such a person treats the problem as being only in your mind or the result of insufficient commitment, resign. The situation will never improve in this case, and no job is worth ruining your mental and physical health over.

Apart from taking a holiday or reducing your workload, look for other factors at work that may be causing stress unnecessarily. Examples of these include poor communication, unclear strategic vision and procedures that pointlessly hinder the execution of tasks. These characteristics will affect everyone in the organization negatively and should be dealt with as a priority issue.

Even if someone is not showing the signs of burnout, but still worries about the level of strain he’s exposed to, the best treatment for long-term stress is lifestyle changes. Giving up smoking, limiting alcohol consumption and exercising all have tremendous effects, not instantly but very persistently.

Another lifestyle factor to consider is having emotional supports and outlets outside of work. If you spend much of your evenings and weekends worrying about all the things you haven’t managed to do, whether you have a future working at your company and what might fall out of the sky tomorrow, it will be impossible to relax completely. Hobbies, from amateur boxing to landscape painting, all force the mind to focus on something other than work, and these brief interludes can easily make the difference between being constantly stressed and being able to cope over the long term.


The Difference Between Rich and Wealthy


Some words are abstractions of a tangible thing, while others are abstractions of a state that is itself an abstraction. Forcing precise meaning through so many layers is bound to lead to some confusion. In the case of the words “happy”, “content” and “euphoric”, we can easily figure out some kind of progression where one is in some sense more desirable than another, but the difference between “rich” and “wealthy” is much more subtle.


The Connection Between Money and Happiness


This is a secret to many people who are managing to get by without owning all that they desire: the poor care desperately about money every day, while the rich barely give it a thought. The difference is simply that the former are anxious about obtaining more money, while this isn’t really a concern once someone has reached their financial goals. There’s also a huge difference in attitudes toward spending: it’s a source of dread when your budget is very limited and the future uncertain, but a decision that can be weighed calmly when you have cash in the bank. In fact, more well-off people often end up spending less than those less fortunate. You don’t need cab fare when you own a car, nor have to bother with health insurance if you can be sure of paying any bills that arise out of pocket, nor pay income tax if you don’t have to work.


Having More by Wanting Less


Obviously, it is far better to be one of the haves than one of the have-nots, but the distinction comes down to two main factors as far as real happiness is concerned: uncertainty about the future and the freedom to do what you choose.


If someone earns $50,000 per month but owes $1,000,000 to the bank, he may be rich but he is not wealthy. He might lose his job, or live through a real estate crash, and go bankrupt. If he decides to devote the next three months to learning oil painting or exploring East Asia, he will have to quit his job, give up much of his retirement fund and try to sell a house that’s probably bigger than he needs, anyway. Such a person is neither free nor secure, and if he prefers to spend his money on objects rather than experiences, chances are that he’s not very happy, either.


The same person can be wealthy if he has a secure, non-salary income of $5,000 per month and no debts or obligations. This is not enough to service the mortgage on a mansion, but nobody really needs a mansion if he’s happy with something less ostentatious. In addition, since he’s not tied to a job 240 days per year, there’s little stopping him from living wherever he finds most comfortable, or even travel around until this becomes boring. Caviar and champagne might be a little pricey on a fixed income, but some people see them more as fashion accessories than delicacies, and there are plenty of those that can be prepared on a budget, anyway. Most of all, he is free in terms of time. If he wants to supplement his income by taking a job or by other means, he can do so.


The Time Value of Money


This term means something else in investment theory, but is often overlooked when it comes to personal financial planning. The wrong thing is always prone to happening at the wrong time: illness in the family, company layoffs or falling victim to some financial shenanigans. In this case, it will not be important how much someone used to earn or hoped to have, but a question of the difference between assets and liabilities, divided by expenses minus income. This gives a simple figure for the time value of money: how long you can afford to keep eating with a roof over your head.


This is one reason both notorious gangsters and famous investors have spent years in houses much cheaper than what they could afford: they preferred to maximize their income through investing their assets. Their expenses stayed constant while they paid off their liabilities, until one day they were magically, suddenly, very wealthy. There is no mystery to doing this; it’s just how math works.


Of course, there is one very important principle involved: don’t try to impress others with the things you own. If your happiness is dependent on what the neighbors think of your economic status, things can only go wrong in a number of ways. Buying houses and cars with assets you don’t have based on income you hope for will make you less wealthy, less free and secure, and less rich as well.

Embracing Work Life Balance to Avoid Chronic Stress


Work life balance is defined as a person’s ability to meet their work and family commitments, as well as other tasks and responsibilities outside of work .  There is a widespread interest in this subject especially from big work organizations primarily because it affects all aspects of a worker’s life. Work has become more demanding of time. What’s supposed to be just an 8-hour job can easily turn into a 12-hour grind. For some employees, extra working hours mean extra pay. But these additional work hours are subtracted from personal time. And if this process continues, it will fire back to the employee in the form of physical and mental fatigue; it will create great conflict within the other key areas of his life—family and personal.



Why work-life balance is important?


According to the Australian Institute of Business, there are three reasons why work-life balance is important:


Employee becomes less susceptible to occupational burnouts

Burnouts happen when you feel overwhelmed and cannot meet the demands of the job.  The negative effects of a burnout affect all the key areas of the employee’s life.  When there is a balance between work and personal life, burnouts can be avoided.


Attention is given to where it’s due

When there is balance between work and home, an employee has better focus to dedicate to.  When at work, an employee has greater control on focusing to his tasks. But when at home, he has the same amount of control to focus on family matters.


Employee experiences fewer health problems

When we are overworked, our body gives in to the negative effects of stress and fatigue. Stress and fatigue compromise our immune system which can result to a simple case of flu to a more serious condition such as digestive and respiratory diseases. Work-life balance promotes healthy lifestyles. It leaves us extra time to look after ourselves by exercising, eating well and relaxing.


How do workers benefit from work-life balance?


Nowadays, work organizations implement work-life balance campaigns primarily to increase the productivity of their employees. Flexible working hours allowing employees to come to work at certain hours of the day where they are most productive positively affects not only their daily productivity but also results to improved employee engagement and satisfaction. Work-life balance also reduces absenteeism, medical leave and other health-related expenses. 


Work-life Balance Strategies at Work

Companies now offer numerous work-life balance strategies that can be put in place to help the employee achieve a balance between work and personal needs. These are measures for a win-win situation for both the employee and employer.


  • Flexible work arrangement – employer and employee agree to a variation from the usual work arrangement.
  • Leave schemes – employee can avail various kinds of leave, depending on their specific needs. 
  • Employee support schemes – these are various kinds of resources that can address the personal needs of an employee so that work will not be affected. Examples of these are eldercare arrangements, child care arrangements, counseling services and many others.


Work-Life Balance Strategies at Home


When we are at work, we are focused on our tasks. Do the same thing when you’re outside of work—be focused on that side of your life. One strategy that a lot of people do is that they use their driving time to get home as a transition period to their personal time. Below are some simple steps that you can take to achieve a healthy balance between work and personal life.


  • We may not able to reduce the demands and workload at the office, but during non-office hours, try tuning out whatever office tasks that dance around your head.
  • Turn off emails at night and on weekends.
  • Engage yourself in after-work activities, like going to the gym, to reduce the stresses encountered during the day.
  • Don’t over-commit yourself.
  • Don’t feel bad tuning out. Embrace it.

Schedule Your Day and Make Every Minute Count


The hurrier I go, the behinder I get,” complains the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. This, usually expressed in different terms, is a lament most of us can relate to on Mondays through Fridays. Tasks seem to all take longer than expected, interruptions are constant, and just when you need to speak to a colleague before being able to continue, he’s disappeared.


Learning the principles of time management does not put an end to pressure or unexpected happenings, but doing so will often avoid these from turning into real problems. There are only so many hours in the day, but intelligent planning truly can make them seem much longer.


Before Trying to Control the Future, Analyze the Present


One of the keys to successful scheduling is understanding the difference between time spent productively and time that is not. This does not mean that unproductive time can be eliminated completely or that it isn’t sometimes important – coffee and Facebook breaks come to mind. However, if you are struggling to shoulder your workload, you might well be surprised at the ratio between the two.


Recording all your activities at work for a week is a pain, but can reveal unexpected patterns. This means anything that lasts longer than five minutes: phone conversations, talks with co-workers, time spent thinking or walking from one point to another should all be included. Each can be marked as either contributing directly to your work goals, not doing so but being unavoidable, and those that are merely drains on the time available. At the end of the week, these can be tallied up – the results may just reveal how, exactly, someone can be perpetually busy and still never get things done.


How to Separate the Crucial from the Trivial


There’s an analogy that applies to this aspect of time management: imagine you are about to go on holiday and packing your suitcase. One way to do this is to start tossing things in randomly: a lone sock here, a bottle of sun tan lotion that’s actually close to empty, a pair of shoes. However, following this approach probably means that the lid won’t close by the time you’re finished.


If, instead, you place the largest, heaviest, most necessary items where they will fit best and later add smaller stuff to the interstices left over, you can fit in a lot more with a little space left over. This is very much how scheduling works. It is recommended that you choose no more than three to five major, important items and decide that these simply have to get done, before adding extraneous chores wherever they’ll fit. If you plan to do three crucial things, you’ll find time to finish all of them; if your to-do list is ten items long, you might manage two.


Good Time Management Prevents Procrastination


It seems to be an article of faith for most people that an unpleasant or intimidating task, if left alone for long enough, will cease to be of importance. Sadly, this just isn’t so. Whether it’s a leaking roof or an expense report, leaving a time-critical task to stew by itself tends not to make the situation better, but worse.


Planning a day or a week ahead allows a person to keep these tasks and their relative importance in mind. Since disagreeable or boring jobs rarely disappear, good scheduling lets a person do them when time is available, rather than having to complete them at the last minute. Staying on a schedule you’ve drafted yourself is not the easiest thing in the world, but acquiring this habit means a lot more free time in future.


Setting a Schedule Keeps Others on Time


It seems to be the natural law of meetings: if there are twenty minutes available for it, it takes 20 minutes; if there is no time limit, it can take ten times longer with much the same things being said. One trick that’s effective at preventing this kind of timewasting is to hold meetings standing up, but another is to announce a time limit beforehand. In this way, people will be forced to show up prepared to reach a conclusion within that timeframe, or have to schedule another meeting. Even better, it does not seem offensive to anyone involved; if someone needs to leave by three o’clock, no-one can reasonably complain when they do. A variation on this involves automatic email replies: since checking email twenty times a day is one of the great timewasters, someone who practices good time management will generally do so only once or twice a day and let clients and colleagues know these times. 



Putting personal scheduling into practice requires honesty, assertiveness and more than a little self-discipline. Yet, it is one of those habits that separate those who get important things done without apparent effort from those living in Wonderland, who have to run as fast as they can just to stay in place.