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The best of both worlds

01 Jul 06

In the first of a three-part series Alex Morcom looks at ways to achieve the seemingly impossible – combining work and home life.

Work/life balance in the IT industry has always been seen as a fantasy. It’s something we all want but always seems to be just beyond our reach. While fantasies are great - some better than others - the reality is that work/life balance is achievable and the easy part is that it’s entirely up to you to get it!

No organisation, regardless of size, can mandate a policy for this elusive thing we call balance. We gaze with envy upon those that have taken the entirely irresponsible leap and left the industry to set up their own little business, to become a consultant, move to the country (or god forbid, plant a vineyard) – all to embrace this balance.

Well folks – you don’t have to be quite so rash. You can achieve balance by making a few simple changes. Remember only you can do it.

Work/life balance is more of a life balance and is broken into three areas:

1. Work - we need cash

2. Home - family, leisure and selfish time

3. Health - without this you’re toast

Let’s start with work – it’s there you can’t avoid it (unless of course you have a large trust fund then please call me – I’m available for marriage).

Work should be there for two reasons; money and stimulation.

It’s there to grow you, make you who you are, connect you with interesting people and give you a sense of professional fulfilment. If you aren’t getting these things from your job, LEAVE IT. Work can also be the primary driver when it comes to an unbalanced life. If you’re stressed it’s probably because you’re doing something you don’t like – think about that for a moment then try to understand what it is. Getting balance into your work life is pretty easy if you focus on a few simple areas:

Plan– make sure you know what you are doing and why.

Have three to four high impact objectives that are well aligned with the company’s overall goals and don’t lose sight of what they are. Frustration comes when we get sucked into day to day detail – small issues that probably aren’t making any impact.

Focus on high impact priorities – I can’t emphasise this enough.

Each quarter focus on three things that map to your overall objectives. Don’t deviate from this unless something else comes up that you can honestly say is more important. Make sure these priorities are aligned with other groups in the organisation. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have one or two high impact projects a year that make you look like a hero.

Lastly – park your ego, it doesn’t help get things done.

Make sure you have a plan in terms of where your career is going to take you - and tell the right people about your ambitions. Be effective – do less better.

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