Work-Life Balance

Working Smarter AND Harder

Working "smarter not harder" is a popular saying, but it's also a myth. The truth is that the magic to truly making things happen for your business is in working smarter and harder.

It's tempting to believe in a silver bullet or easy way out, but those either don't exist or aren't worth pursuing.

Yes, it is important to work smarter than we have in the past but success also requires that we work harder than we may have in the past. As Malcolm Gladwell says, "people at the top don't work harder than you; they work much, much harder."

Anyone who tells you that they achieved success by being lazy or working "just 1.5 days a week" is lying – either about the laziness or, more likely, about the success.

Of course you should set healthy boundaries when it comes to "work-life balance." Just set them with the full understanding that within those boundaries, you may be working more efficiently, but you will also be working harder than you ever have before. It is not either/or, it is both/and.

Sustainable success requires smart, hard work.
 


The original version of this post was published January 2012

Developing A Healthy Work Ethic

Too many people confuse a scarcity mentality with having a strong, healthy work ethic. 

A scarcity mentality says that if you slow down you might lose a sale.
A scarcity mentality says you have to say yes to meetings on Christmas Eve.
A scarcity mentality robs you of what you truly need to be better.
A scarcity mentality says you can sleep when you're dead.
A scarcity mentality offers busyness as a badge of honor when in reality it's a crutch that prevents you from running at your best.

These things aren't signs of a healthy work ethic, they're signs of a fear-driven work ethic.

It’s okay to turn your phone off while you have lunch.
It’s okay to not check email while you’re with your family in the evenings.
It's okay to set boundaries with your clients and tell them holidays are off limits.
It’s okay to not be connected 24/7.

As far as losing a piece of business by missing a call, if a potential client begrudges you an interruption-free lunch break, is it really a client you want?

Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally isn't laziness. You deserve to rest. You deserve margin. Margin makes you sharper, more creative, and more productive when you switch back "on."

If we want the industry to improve, we each have to create the necessary space for us to work in a way that produces the best results.
 


Originally published September 2015

5 Things to Make 2018 More Productive and Less Stressful

At the beginning of this year, I shared five things that make my life a little easier to navigate. As we head into 2018, here are some other apps and products that make my workday run more smoothly and allow me to get more done in the same amount of time:
 

1. FREEDOM

I’m newish to this app and I love it. L-O-V-E it. Freedom can block not just Internet access and social media sites, but also apps that are meant to make you more productive but often end up being super distracting instead (looking at you, Slack).

You can choose the sites or apps you’d like to block (anything from Instagram to Whatsapp to Twitter to Net-a-Porter) and then set it for a certain amount of time. You can also schedule custom time blocks, so if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get better sleep, you can set it from 9:30pm - 5:30am.

One of my favorite pieces of work-life balance wisdom was shared by my friend Carley Roney a few years ago at an Engage conference: “Don’t check social media until after your kids go to school.” Freedom is a great way to make that habit a reality.

My fave feature: Freedom can sync across all your devices, so you can’t just pick up your phone and mindlessly scroll Facebook while blocked on your laptop. 
 

2. THE DAY DESIGNER

This one made both lists because I love it so much. I’ve tried a zillion day planners, goal and to-do apps, and calendars. The Day Designer is the most in line with how my brain works. Created by Whitney English with the aim to help you create a well-designed life, this planner makes annual goals doable by breaking them out in quarterly, monthly, and daily to-dos. The daily pages include the day's top three so you can prioritize (these are the "rocks" in the well-known jar analogy), as well as both a time schedule and to-do checklist (for the pebbles/sand).

My fave feature: it’s pretty and well-made. As someone who loves form but needs it to function, finding products that combine both with excellence is the best.
 

3. CLICKUP

While I love the Day Designer for prioritizing the day’s top three, ClickUp ensures every single step and to-do within those projects gets done. It is project management software that allows you to collaborate with others or work on your own. 

I personally like ClickUp better than Asana, Trello, or Basecamp. I’ve tried countless product management tools over the years, and this one is the most intuitive for me. The design is also very clean and, as a visual person, this means I actually enjoy using it. 

My fave feature: one-click template creation for projects that have the same core workflow and checklists.
 

4. CALENDLY

Calendly is hands down the best program for scheduling calls and meetings. No more emailing back and forth, meaning you can say goodbye to the “Oh wait, never mind, that time is no longer available, what about Tuesday instead?” email chains that slowly drive each of us crazy. It is also super customizable, allowing you to opt for a different availability schedule each day.

My fave feature: it shows all times in each person’s time zone, so they know they are selecting a time that truly works for them.
 

5. UBERCONFERENCE

I switched to using UberConference for all my consulting calls and it is one of the best tech decisions I’ve made. I upgraded to an area code and phone number that I got to choose, but there are also free options. 

UberConference works similarly to several conference call products and includes a screensharing option, but the aspect that won my loyalty was the quality and reliability of its recording feature. Since I record consulting calls for clients to keep and listen back to later on, I need it to work every time, without fail. In the past I’ve dealt with the nightmare of services and apps not working the way they should: recording with subpar audio quality, or recording and then not playing back, or not turning on at all when they were supposed to. With UberConference I never have to think about this. It just works. Automatically. Every time.

My fave feature: Aside from reliable recording, the post-call summary includes a break down of how long each participant spoke for.


If you have a favorite product that makes your life a little easier, I'd love to hear about it. You can tweet it to me here.


*None of these products are affiliate links, just things I enjoy and think you might, too.