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3 habits for better work-life balance



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Take a second and imagine the burners on a stove top.

The flames that dance on those burners are created by

a supply of gas, and using that gas,

you can crank one burner up to full,

routing all the gas to it

and creating a single, bright flame.

Or you can choose to distribute that gas,

allowing a smaller amount to go to each burner.

This is how I think about the concept

of work/life balance.

Each of us has a certain amount of gas,

or time, or energy, or motivation,

and whether due to our daily choices or to our obligations,

that gas is distributed to four different burners.

Let's call them work, health, relationships and hobbies.

And if you're anything like me,

then the way that your burners are set right now,

probably isn't exactly how you really want them.

Maybe the work burner is burning just a bit too hot

at the moment, or maybe your health burner is

totally off right now, you haven't had time to work out

or your sleep schedule's all out of whack,

whatever the cause that imbalance may be,

I believe there are some habits that you could adopt

that'll help start curing it.

And today, I wanna share three of them.

Now, my original script for this video

actually listed five habits,

with two of them being ones that you might expect.

Number one, creating separation between your workspace

and the area where you relax.

And number two, putting yourself on a schedule,

going through a morning routine,

getting actually dressed before you start work

in the morning, and having a set end time to your work day.

But in truth, these are just both specific examples

of another habit, which is the creation of obligations.

See, when you wanna do something in a balanced way,

it's a good idea to get in the habit of setting up

an obligation that encourages that balance.

So for example, I use a combination

of two different obligations for my videos.

See, I wanna strike a balance between publishing videos

on a regular basis, but also pushing my editing

and my production skills with each new video that I make.

So I create deadlines for my videos,

but I also push myself to improve at least one aspect

with each video that I create.

I could be the way that I speak, it could be the lighting,

it could be anything, but whatever it is I write it down

in my 1% rule log over on my website.

And a combination of the deadlines and this log ensures

that I'm never resting on my laurels,

just making content that isn't pushing my skills.

But also, that I'm not letting my perfectionism cause me

to just never publish.

And I've learned from experience that trying

to rely solely on self-discipline to strike this balance,

simply does not work nearly as well.

As James Clear puts it in his book, "Atomic Habits",

"You do not rise to the level of your goals.

"You fall to the level of your systems."

And obligations are simply components

of a system that pushes you to live

with a type of balance you aspire to.

So here's an example of an obligation

for each of our four burners.

And hopefully, these examples will help you think

of your own obligations that'll help you strike

the type of balance that you want.

Now, for the work burner, I've already mentioned

the deadlines that drive me to finish

and publish my work on a schedule.

So here I'll just briefly mention that I also use

a tool called Beeminder that will literally charge me money

if I don't upload on time.

Now that may sound a bit extreme for some of you,

but as a notorious perfectionist, extreme measures are

very helpful to me, so I use them.

For health, easily the most helpful obligations

that I have are the ones imposed on me by coach.

Whenever it's lifting day, I'm given a specific workout

to do and I have to upload videos proving that I did it.

But on the lighter side, I also share my activity data

with a couple of my friends which allows each

of us to see whether the others closed their exercise

and their movement rings for the day.

Now, for your relationships,

I think that you should schedule plans

with friends in advance, especially right now

when we can't go to our typical, physical gathering places

and, hence, we're kind of at home

just doing our own thing for most of the day.

And weekly game night with friends is a great way to do this

and there are a ton of games that you can play remotely,

including Jackbox games which are some of my favorites,

Don't Starve is a great multi-player option,

and even good old chess.com.

Finally, you have your hobbies,

which could be creative and productive,

like making music, or just totally relaxing

like playing video games.

Now obligations can be a bit of

a double-edged sword when it comes to hobbies

because they can often turn those hobbies into work.

So, my suggestion would be to apply

strategic obligations to the other three burners first

and in most cases you'll find

that you're probably gonna have space carved out

for those hobbies naturally.

But you can also schedule time for them as well,

just as you schedule time with your friends.

Now, even with well-structured obligations,

I sometimes find that my work/life balance starts

to tip way too far into the work territory.

And when my work burner starts to burn too brightly,

I've noticed that it's often result

of me feeling a sort of pressure

to be successful as quickly as possible.

And if you feel the same pressure,

it's worth asking yourself this question,

why are you in a hurry?

Or what exactly is causing you to feel

the need to compress your timetable for success?

In other words, it's useful to identify

the external sources of pressure

that push you to work harder.

Now, sometimes these are legitimate,

like deadlines imposed by a degree program

or trying to get out of debt.

But, I've noticed that a lot of the pressure sources

in my own life aren't actually legitimate

and ultimately they're just negative.

Sometimes it's jealously, sometimes I'll see one

of my friends or my peers do something really cool

and then I'll get this temporary feeling of inadequacy,

which makes me feel like I have to push to keep up.

Or other times it's FOMO, the fear of missing out,

the screens in your pocket and on your desk show you

so many different potential paths that you could go down

and they feed you this potent combination,

the highlight reels inspire you,

the profiles of your peers put pressure on you to keep up,

the endless tutorials could teach you anything

and the tools are often cheap

or free and are just a click away.

So the message is clear, you can do anything.

And since you can do anything,

it actually feels like you're losing something

when you pass up an opportunity.

Finally, there's the incessant pressure to keep

the metrics that measure your success going up.

It's very easy to start to peg your sense of self-worth

and satisfaction to some kind of external metric,

be it money or followers or likes or whatever it is.

And you don't want to just see this metric continue

to go up, you wanna see that change happen faster

and faster over time.

I have a term for this, I call it acceleration addiction.

Over time, the same increases don't feel as meaningful

as they used to because our brains lack

the ability to disregard our point of reference.

A $1000 raise seems huge when you're making $20,000 a year,

but not when you're making six figures.

A 10% increase in followers seems great one month,

but then the next month, you'll be looking out

for even bigger change.

Your acceleration addiction causes you

to constantly move the goalposts that define enough.

So you have to train your mind to find meaning elsewhere.

No amount of success will cause these pressures

to ease up if you continue to fixate on them.

The jealously, the fomo, the acceleration addiction,

these will always be there pressuring you

to pump that gas more and more towards the work burner.

And on the flip side, there are very few natural sources

of pressure that will push you to live a more balanced life

and do the things that truly make you happy.

Which means that you have

to create those pressures for yourself.

And one great way to do this is to simply list out

the things that really do make you happy.

I did this myself recently and I came up with a list

of seven items, which includes things like doing work

that challenges and pushes my creative abilities

and forces me to learn new things.

It also includes spending time outside,

especially when I'm moving in quick, complex ways.

And I think this is why I enjoy skating so much.

Now, going for a walk outside is nice,

but there is nothing like the rush

of gracefully flying down the pavement,

carving around corners, and leaping over obstacles.

And there's also music, time spent with people

that I care about, and being physically fit.

These are the things that I truly care about

that make me truly happy.

So, I'd recommend taking some time

and creating a list like this for yourself.

And then maybe posting it in a place where you'll see it

often, get in the habit of looking at it

and reminding yourself that the items

on that list are what truly make you happy,

not the pursuit of some external measure of success.

Now to a certain degree,

living a balanced life means sacrificing

the potential to become truly great at one thing.

Or a least to do so quickly.

People who are truly great at their crafts,

especially those that become great early on,

typically do so by turning down

the heat on the other burners in their life.

Their craft becomes their singular priority,

dominating their time.

And if you wanna become great at your own craft as well,

you'll likely have to start moving in the same direction.

But it doesn't mean that you can't be strategic about it.

Yes, an incredibly ambitious goal might require you

to cut time spent on relationships or exercise,

especially hobbies, but there are probably

other things that you could cut first.

So look at how you spend your time

and then try to identify the low value activities.

Time spent mindlessly scrolling through social media,

or binging shows that you don't actually care about,

should be the first things to go.

In fact, if you wanna think back to our stove metaphor,

the time spent on these activities doesn't

really fit onto any of the burners.

It's more like poking a hole

in the gas line with a nail,

and by reducing the time you spend

on these things, you gain time for your goals

without making cuts to relationships,

your health, or even your hobbies.

But if making cuts in those areas isn't enough,

there is yet another way to preserve

the time you spend in these areas

while still accomplishing more.

When you're working, work intensely,

move quickly, don't let a moment go to waste.

Now this seems obvious, but a lot of people don't

really use it, you have to understand,

the value of time isn't determined solely by

the amount of time itself, but also by the intensity

and the strategic value of

the effort that you exert during it.

So do whatever you have to do to remove

any lethargy from your work time.

Move with purpose, and move with a plan.

Do your best to figure out the best course of action

and the best order of operations.

Of course, one other way to be able to accomplish

a lot more during your work time is

by improving your ability to solve problems.

Because when you can more effectively pull information

from lots of disparate sources and combine ideas

in your mind, you'll break through barriers

in your work a lot more quickly.

And a great resource

for building those problem solving skills is Brilliant.

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Their courses quickly throw you into bite sized challenges

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All the while, you'll also getting

universal problem solving practice,

which you'll be able to apply to your work.

- Okay, well I agree with one, we can check if,

if at least one has a bigger value than that.

If so, swap it, then set I to I minus one.

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So, if you wanna start expanding your knowledge,

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then head over to brilliant.org/thomasfrank and sign up.

And if you're one of the first 200 people to use that link,

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So, thank you so much for watching,

hopefully you found this video helpful,

hopefully there was something you can apply to your life

and start getting your life

a little bit more balanced going forward.

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