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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.
Brilliant is a learning library of course in math, science,
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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,
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- Now, Brilliant's library includes more
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So, if you wanna start expanding your knowledge,
if you wanna start building your problem solving skills,
then head over to brilliant.org/thomasfrank and sign up.
And if you're one of the first 200 people to use that link,
you'll even get 20% off your annual premium subscription.
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.
And if you did like this video,
definitely hit that like button,
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You can also get subscribed right over here,
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As always, smashing your face into your phone screen is
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than using your thumbs or even your fingers.
I think the nose was just evolved
for hitting links on a phone screen.
So definitely do that, or don't
because, as always, I'm not your dad.