Posted by: Rachel Cates | June 30, 2009

Finding Your Individual Work-Life Balance

The first step in achieving work-life balance is to acknowledge that there is no one size fits all method in which to obtain it.   Individuals are unique and work-life balance solutions should be addressed from this perspective.   A 37 year old single mother balancing a full-time career has a different set of life issues, for example, than a 23 year old college graduate newly entering the workforce.   

Figuring out your best work-life balance solution starts with identifying your core values.   This can be done by answering the following question:  What do I need in my life in order to be accomplished and fulfilled?  The answer to this question should be multifaceted and include the five major areas of your life: spiritual, mental, physical, professional, and social. 

It is important to focus when doing this exercise to ensure that your values are based upon what truly matters to you and not outside influences such as family, culture, and society. This is the time to be completely honest.  

Once your values have been identified you can create long and short-term goals that are aligned with your values.  Value-based goals are important because they provide the structure for you to get the most out of your day by channeling your energy towards the activities that matter most. 

Breaking your goals down into incremental segments such as 5 year, 1 year, 6 month, monthly, weekly, and daily sections is a useful tool to help keep you on track.  These goals should be reviewed and updated regularly.  Expect to modify your goals as you move forward and embrace this change as evidence that you are getting more clear about what you want.  

Achieving work-life balance often comes down to skillful time management.  Studies have shown that excellent time management habits are commonly found among successful professionals in all career fields.  

Here are 5 quick time management tips to help keep your goals on track:

1. Plan – Begin each day with a schedule arranging your high-priority projects first.

2. Focus – Remove all distractions and focus on one thing at a time.   If you get an idea or an inspired thought, write it down and get back to work.  The amount of time you spend on a project is not what matters; it’s the amount of quality time. 

3. Get Balanced –  Create harmony and balance in your life by making time for your five major areas: spiritual, mental, physical, professional, and social. 

4. The Art of “No” – Remember your priorities when asked to do more.  Value your time and your goals.  Say “No” before you decide to take on more than you can handle.

5.  Stop Procrastination – Now is the time to take action!  Break your goals down into baby-steps and tackle one project at a time.  You don’t have to have everything figured out right now, get moving and you will find what you need.

Work-life balance is a daily mission.  Your values and priorities will change throughout your life as new insights and responsibilities are embraced.  Time is your greatest asset and using it wisely every day on projects and activities that express your values is the greatest path to achieving success and fulfillment.

Posted by: Rachel Cates | June 25, 2009

10 Time Management Tips for Success


1.         PLAN – Start each day with a to-do list arranging your high-priority projects first.

2.         CONCENTRATE – Remove all distractions and focus on one project at a time.   Write down any ideas for later and get back to work.  Spending quality time on a project matters more than actual minutes spent so apply 100% of your attention to the subject at hand until finished.

3.         TAKE BREAKS –  Studies have proven that frequent breaks enhances health and overall performance.  Take 10-15 minutes every two hours to stretch, take a brief walk, mediatate, converse with others, or anything  relaxing to rejuvenate yourself for maximum success. 

4.         AVOID CLUTTER – Clutter can negatively effect concentration. Working in a clean and organized space can help you to focus better.  Take 5 minutes before you leave work every day to clean your space so that you can kick the next day off to a great start.

5.         AVOID PERFECTIONISM –  Strive for excellence; Not perfection. No one is perfect and trying to achieve perfection can prevent you from taking action.  Do your best and accept any setbacks as lessons and stepping stones towards success.  Remember – Failure is not measured by your mistakes, but by your inability to get started.   

6.         LEARN TO SAY “NO” – You can’t do it all.  Set your priorities and learn to say “no”  if asked to do something that will take time away from your high-priority projects. 

7.         DON’T PROCRASTINATE – The time to take action is NOW!  Learn to chunk your goals down into baby steps so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.  You don’t have to have all of the answers right now to get started.  Take the first step and the next step will be revealed. 

8.         DELETE TIME-WASTERS –  Stop wasting your time on low-priority activities that don’t contribute to your short or long-term goals.    

9.         DELEGATE – When appropriate delegate projects to others.  Focus on your strengths and have the professionals manage the responsibilities out of your area of expertise.   

10.       AVOID – “WORKAHOLIC SYNDROME” –  Create balance and harmony in your life by making time for your individual, social, and spiritual needs.

Always my best,

Rachel Cates, CLC

Posted by: Rachel Cates | June 25, 2009

Creating Boundaries


“Boundaries are to protect life, not to limit pleasures.   Edwin Louis Cole

Boundaries help to keep us safe from harm.   Creating and communicating boundaries is an important part of taking care of yourself.  Setting boundaries empowers you to take control of your life and demand respect from others. 

When you establish boundaries you are making a unique statement about who you are and what behavior you will or will not accept.   

People come from a variety of different cultures and backgrounds.   Lifestyles, interests and opinions are as multifaceted as clouds in the sky.  Actions that may be considered humorous to some people may easily be offensive to others.  For that reason, it is important to find the language to express how you feel so that others will know where you stand.   When you clearly communicate your boundaries, you give people the opportunity to correct their behavior and preserve the relationship. 

How do you create boundaries? 

Learning to set boundaries is vital to learning to love yourself and to show others that you have self worth. 

Here are steps you can take to create boundaries:

Step 1 – “I Feel …. (Express how the unwanted behavior is making you feel honestly and without blame.)

Step 2 – I want… (Describe in detail the kind of behavior that you want from the other person.)

Step 3 – If you…(Describe the behavior you find unacceptable.)

Step 4 – I will … (Describe what action you will take to protect yourself.)

Step 5 – If This behavior continues… (Know what steps you will take if the behavior continues.  You don’t need to reveal these steps. )

Here are examples: 

“John, I feel uncomfortable and disrespected when you are late for our events.   I want you to be on time for all of our appointments or at the very least call and let me know if you are running late so I can make alternative arrangements.   If you continue to be late I will not invite you out anymore.”    

 “Cynthia, I feel angry and unappreciated when you yell at me and complain constantly.   I want you to speak to me in a calm voice and acknowledge my efforts in this relationship by say “thank you” when I do something nice for you.  If you continue to yell and complain I will take the necessary steps to protect myself including exploring the option of leaving the relationship. ”

If you aren’t clear on your boundaries, start by paying attention to how you feel when you interact with others.   If at any time you feel angry, sad, embarrassed, or any other negative emotions,  then that is an indication that a boundary may have been violated.   

Write down how you felt, what happened to make you feel that way, and decide how you will protect yourself going forward.  That way, if that situation ever happens again, you will know immediately that a boundary has been crossed and you will have the language to express yourself confidently to others.

Like anything else, it will get easier with practice.  If you need more assistance find a life coach to help you develop the skills and courage to build strong boundaries. 

Remember, you have to take care of yourself first before you can take on the world. 

Always my best,

Rachel Cates, CLC

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