Please read part 1 of A Balanced Life.
Most people are time wasters. They waste their own time, and they waste your time as well. To be successful and happy, you must discipline yourself to work all the time you work. The average employee works at about 50 percent of capacity. Fully 80 percent of people working today are underemployed in that their jobs do not really demand their full capacities. Only 5 percent of workers surveyed recently felt that they were working at the outside limits of their potentials.
But this is not for you. You must resolve to work all the time you work. You must decide that from the time you start in the morning until the time you finish in the evening, you will work 100 percent of the time. Even if no one is watching you, you should be aware that everyone is watching you. Everybody knows everything. In every company, everyone knows who is working and who is not. Your job must be to work all the time you work. If people come by and want to chat, you simply smile at them and say, “Could we talk about this later?” Tell them that you have to get back to work.
Have a written list, and work on your list every day. Write down everything as it comes up, and add it to your list. Set priorities on your time, and be certain that you are working on the things that are most important to your boss and to your company. Refuse to get drawn into the time-wasting activities of the people around you. Work all the time you work.
Remember that to be successful, you must become a monomaniac with a mission. This is true today, and it has always been true in our competitive society. To be successful at your job, you must work fast and efficiently and nonstop all the time you are on the payroll. You must become an expert at time management. You must become so efficient and effective that you get twice as much done as anyone else. In this way, you will advance your career at the fastest rate possible, and you will also be on top of your job most of the time, and it will be unnecessary for you to take work home for the evenings and weekends.
Then, when you have finished your work, you can devote your full attention to your family and to the other important people in your life. The Bible says, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” One of the meanings of this is that if you are thinking about your work while you are with your family, or if you are thinking about your family when you are at work, you end up accomplishing far less in each area. However, if you are on top of your work, when you come home you can devote yourself single-mindedly — again, like a monomaniac — to your relationships and to enhancing the quality of your interactions with the most important people in your life.
The key to a happy family life is communication. And it is not quality of time but quantity of time that counts. Quality moments — those little moments that are precious and important — come unbidden and, usually, unexpectedly. They arise during the process of spending a large quantity of uninterrupted time with people. You can't dictate those moments in advance. You cannot decide to have quality time. You don't go to it. It comes to you.
There are a variety of ways to extract the greatest amount of quality and happiness from your relationships with the members of your family. Perhaps the most important is to spend unbroken time with your spouse on a daily basis. Of course, you should spend time together talking after the children have gone to bed, but you should also seek out and utilize small segments of time during the morning and early evening during which you can communicate and interact. One of the most important things that couples can do is spend the first 30 to 60 minutes after work debriefing each other and discussing the day’s activities.
Your children also have a tremendous need to communicate with you. In fact, in my research on how to raise super kids, I found that the one factor that was more important than any other was the amount of one-on-one time that the parents spent with the children. When parents don’t spend a lot of time with their children individually, they send a message to their children that they are not very valuable or important. Children then react by experiencing feelings of inferiority, lowered self-esteem, and negative self-images, and this is expressed in poor grades and behavioral problems. But when the parents take the time to sit down with their children and ask questions and listen to what is going on in their minds, the children tend to feel a deep sense of value and importance that is manifested in self-confidence, happiness, and good relationships with others.
The key is learning to use your time better. You cannot get more hours out of each day, but you can put more of yourself into each of those hours. Turn off the television and spend time talking with the members of your family. Never read newspapers or books when a member of your family wants to communicate with you. Put the reading material aside. Concentrate single-mindedly on the most important people in your world. Everything else can wait.
In regard to your work and family, continually ask yourself, “What is the most valuable use of my time right now?” Consider if what you are doing today will matter a week or a year from today. Sometimes, we become preoccupied with small things that are not really important in the long run. But what is important in the long run is the quality of our home life.
You don’t have to be a superman or superwoman to properly balance the demands of your work and the needs of your family. You must, however, be more thoughtful, be a better planner, use your time more effectively, and continually think of ways to enhance the quality of your life in both areas. If you set this as a goal and resolve to work toward it every day, you will gradually become far more efficient, far more effective, and a far happier human being. And that’s the most important thing of all.