Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for November, 2014

Four simple ideas for work-life balance—and some wise words, to boot.

Not that I always have this one nailed, but when I practice these things, I definitely experience more work-life balance, I feel better, and my family, friends and clients get my best. Here are four simple ideas for increasing your work-life balance, along with what I found to be profound food for thought relating to our day-to-day well-being.

Schedule time with your loved ones, or schedule time to do something you enjoy, and integrate those blocks of time into your calendar. Treat the upcoming commitment with the same regard you would a client or business meeting and show up. If you’re working a lot of hours and you put off your personal, social or family desires for “when you have time” there’s a good chance you and your loved ones will miss out. If you’re currently in a romantic relationship, I highly recommend the same intentional planning for a date night.

Turn your phone off for an hour….or two! (I need to work on this one!) Again, if we’re about to enter a business meeting, we turn our ringer off out of courtesy to the person we’re meeting with and/or the importance of the subject matter. Yet, we may not be offering the same courtesy when we’re spending time with our spouse, partner, family or friends—or when we might just need some down time to be alone! Go figure.

Choose a book with a friend that interests you both and may help you contemplate and explore your spiritual health and/or mental well-being. Just commit to a few paragraphs or a chapter at a time and schedule a brief telephone conversation to discuss each of your perspectives of what you’ve read. During your discussion, commit to some small action that you want to apply or pay attention to, before you talk again. I have a friend who resides in Florida over the winter months, and we make an effort to do this. We only commit to a short chapter or two at a time, to keep it doable, and we “meet” every couple of weeks. It’s a relaxing and valuable opportunity to pay attention to your own development or interests. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with a friend who lives away.

Take just a few moments a day to acknowledge at least one thing you’re grateful for. It can be something small and simple. I find that gratefulness and negative stress cannot co-exist in the same moment. And during tough or exhausting times, those few thankful moments serve as valuable and needed interrupters of the status quo.

Speaking of being grateful, I’m grateful to a dear friend who, just this weekend, shared what I found to be profound food for thought. I find her words applicable here because I believe that our ability to focus on the good stuff enhances our ability to enjoy our work, our lives, our loved ones, and ourselves—even in the midst of the tough stuff. My friend has lung disease. I’m paraphrasing but she acknowledged that her lungs cause significant limitations in her life. Yet, she prefers to focus on the parts of her body, mind, and spirit that remain healthy and how they allow her to live life in many ways, without limitations. She says that although she has a disease, there’s no need for her to BE the disease.

Customer Service 101—When all else fails, engage!

A new grocery store opened in our city neighborhood. It’s warm and clean and quite cozy as grocery stores go. I’m drawn to shop there because of it being so close to home and my liking to support local growers and business owners.

Recently, when I was shopping there, there was a problem with the check-out system, which is understandable considering the newness of the place, systems and employees. When the glitch hit—with customers lined up to check out—the cashier fixated on the problem and became visibly and emotionally flustered. Those of us in line immediately became secondary to the cashier’s extended negative experience. I have to tell you that it was downright uncomfortable to watch.

As I finally walked away with my few things to a different check out line, a customer turned to me and said: “Not a very good experience for my first time here.” All I could think of was if the cashier had kept her composure, acknowledged the wait, and simply engaged us, our customer experience could have been even more positive than a smooth check-out experience.

At work, I view the term “customer service” to include any service or interaction provided to others including co-workers, colleagues, managers, and external customers. And I immediately applied that grocery store experience to what I observe in the varied workplaces I have the opportunity to visit.

So here’s what I’m reminded of often and what I took away from this brief experience. Our composure mixed with a genuine intent to serve will go a long way, whether we’re dealing with external customers or a manager or co-worker. When frustrations arise….take a breath, reconnect with your intent to serve, and engage those that you’re serving.