3 Jars, 3000 Pebbles and a Worry Tree

Yesterday I wrote about Work/Life balance and how out of the top 50 moments of my life, not one would be work related.

To be clear, I don’t want to give the impression my Work/Life balance is perfect, far from it, I spend far too much time working and worrying about work related matters.

Every time I pick up my iphone it’s not to check messages from my kids, or from my wife who is usually sat just 2 feet away, but it’s to check for messages from work, about systems being down, or about issues that may have arisen, etc,.

An interesting approach to measuring Work/Life Balance is to get a large jar, and put in two pebbles representing each day of weekend,  of our working lives.

This would be 104 pebbles per year, and assuming we work for 30 years, this would be 3,000 pebbles in total, (clearly this would be a big jar, but keep with me on this 🙂 ).

Every weekend, we take out 2 pebbles, representing the 2 days we will no longer have. We then put these into one of two more jars, one representing Life and one representing Work.

This will give us a clear idea, a visual representation, of which way our Balance is tipping.

Obviously, we may have to do something on a weekend, so how would we decide when it tips from Life to Work.

One way would be to decide that if we spend anything over a predetermined amount of time, say 1 hour, focused on Work, then we put the pebble into the Work jar.

A much better, and braver approach, would be to let our partners or our children make that assessment. I think we would be shocked by the result.

Because sometimes, even when we are there and not working, we are still not present.

Our head is still in work, we are worrying about a meeting with our boss, a presentation we may have to do, or a budget that needs to be planned.

A great friend, and mentor of mine, Mark McGregor, suggests that we should all have a Worry Tree.

A Worry Tree is a tree – real, fake or imaginary – that we have outside our house door.

This is where, when we come home and before we go in, we should hang all of of work worries, so that we can leave them outside the house.

They can remain there for the evening and weekends, and they will be there when we leave the next morning, and we can pick them back up on our way back to work.
Although sometimes, when we come back they have gone and turned out to not be worries at all.

This is an excellent discipline if we can master it.

Mark also recommends, to take 5 minutes – before we enter the house: to clear our minds; to prepare ourselves ; to be ready for an evening with our partner and families.

We shouldn’t enter our homes with all the worries of the world on our shoulders, we should shake them off, leave them on the Worry Tree, and come in with a smile, glad to be home and ready to spend the evening or weekend ‘present’ with our loved ones.

So if you’re worried that your Work/Life Balance is out of synch, then I suggest that you share this article with your family and ask them what they think. I

f they feel that your Balance is leading more towards Work, then ask them to buy you 3 Jars, 3000 Pebbles and a worry Tree for your next birthday or Christmas present.

I suspect you will get your present early this year.

Put your Balance back in your favour!