A Life Well Balanced
Your brain is a focusing tool, not a storage place. It is designed to only be able to consciously track four things at a time and too much “stuff” stored in a person’s short-term memory can blow a fuse. This leads to stress, anxiety and “unproductiveness”. These are some of the core concepts illustrated in David Allens book, “Getting Things Done (GTD)” and is the foundation for how we at Arkus conduct our business. It is so important to our success that anyone who has the pleasure to work at Arkus is introduced to them on day one of their tenure. It is also highly encouraged to apply these concepts and best practices in your personal life. I for one believe that regardless of how much you have on your plate both in your career and personal lives, applying these concepts holistically will lead to more happiness, clarity and balance.
Before I go into what works for me, I figured I would give you a little about what my world looks like. In addition to being a Co-Founder and President at Arkus, I run all sales at Arkus, own a home, have a wife and three children under the age of ten, two vehicles, on two committees at a social club and coach baseball and travel basketball. As you can imagine, there is a lot to manage and a lot to get done. If I didn’t have some way to manage it all, I would never have a second to smell the roses. But I do and here are some concepts, tools and best practices I use to manage my personal life.
Be Aware, Of Thy Self
Even though something might not be in your conscious mind, it still affects you. Part of self awareness is being aware of your habitual emotions. If anxiety is one of them, it might be a strong indicator you are overwhelmed. This was very true to me and when I realized this, it was the first step towards change. I noticed that I was trying to manage hundreds of brainless tasks with my mind and it was overwhelmed. Things like when to change the oil in my snow blower, trips to take with the family during the holidays and scheduling yearly doctor check-ups took up unneeded space in my brain and I needed to find a system that my mind would trust and let them go. So having more awareness is step one and maybe the most critical piece. You can't change something if you aren’t consciously aware of it. It is easy to start, all you need is a little bit of time and a pen and paper. Just write down everything you are committing to in all aspects of your life. Doing this alone will make you feel good, then it is just a little bit of courage and discipline to get it all done.
Trust Your Tools
I am of the opinion that what works for me, might not work for you. So these tools are suggestions and are based on my experience alone. If something else works for you, then great. As long as it works, your brain will trust it and that is the goal. Simplicity is key for me so I prefer to use a minimum number of tools, the number that works for me is three. Omnifocus, Evernote and Dropbox are my triple threat and there is no overlap in their usage. Omnifocus is where I manage all my life projects and capture anything I may want to commit to or need to remember. Omnifocus is limited in that it is only available on Apple devices (Mac, iOS) but the point is that you need somewhere to capture things and manage committed projects or tasks. It is easy to use and has a great iPhone app that I use ever-so-frequently to capture anything of importance. (Quick tip: Don’t over complicate your capture process, if you think something could have the slightest of importance, take note. You can delete it later.) I use Evernote for lists and notes I want to keep. I have lists from potential christmas and birthday gifts to sporting events I go to throughout the year so I can reflect at the end of year. I also keep notes for things like key concepts I want to remember from reading a book. Lastly, I use Dropbox for files. This is where I organize any paper documents like my taxes to recorded sessions with my life coach. These three tools give me a place to capture, manage, review and reflect.
The last key component I wanted to mention is balance. One of my biggest struggles was giving proper time and attention to all aspects to my life. I would find that in one area of my life I was excelling but in other areas failing. For example, my business is doing great but my health is out of whack. I was completely out of balance and for the most part unhappy. When I started applying the GTD weekly review along with a rebalancing exercise, I started to see clear direction and positive movement in all parts of life. This is my time each week to review what I captured all week and do something with it (sometimes its delete), reflect on what I accomplished for the week, tie up any loose ends and plan for the coming week. In my planning process I apply a rule of three, where I make sure at least three tasks are scheduled to be done in each area of my life. Sometimes I don’t complete all three due to focus needed in other areas but that is ok. The goal is to be aware and always be taking a step forward, even if it is a baby step.
These are are some key concepts and methods that work for me. As mentioned, whatever works for you is what you should do. The key is to make sure your brain trusts your system and that you are seeing results. If you aren’t, then be aware (there is that word again) of it and take some steps to change. If you have anything to add or want me to expand on, please feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @Salvatoriello