I’ve read numerous times that the human brain can effectively cope with three things at a time. Like a good work-out that has a warm up at the start, a middle part where all the hard work happens and then a cool down at the end. We are also used to having 3 courses when we are out for dinner with a starter, main course and a dessert. Co-Active Coaches like me focus on the three principles of Fulfilment, Balance and Process. The same thing applies to work-life balance.
According to Copyblogger via Wikipedia, the “rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The reader or audience of this form of text is also thereby more likely to remember the information.” The suggestion being that, it makes the author or speaker appear knowledgeable while being both simple and catchy. Click here to read the article.
I’m not professing to be any of these things. It strikes me, however, that it makes sense to highlight 3 high impact strategies that create balance.
1) Get Clarity
The most important thing to start with is to have a clear understanding of what you want. Without this critical piece of the puzzle, it is impossible to prioritise according to what is important to you. The knock-on effect is that you begin working according to someone else’s set of priorities rather than your own. The simplest way to get clarity, especially during moments of high stress, is to stop what you are doing and ask yourself the following question:
“What do I want?”
This question becomes easier to answer when you have spent time thinking about what you want proactively. Gravitating to your overall purpose, values and how they inform your current situation then becomes automatic. It is also a powerful way to calm down and get clarity of thought in the moment. Taking a short walk while doing this engages the creative part of your brain and will help you find solutions.
2) Prioritise, make decisions and take action based on what is important
The principle of threes applies to the regular habit of planning your day each morning. At the start of each day ask yourself:
“If I could only do 3 things today what would they be?”
This becomes your focus for that day. Prioritising this way forces you to draw out what is most important. This is helpful when everything on your plate is causing you anxiety and stress.
3) Say ‘no’ to the things that are not aligned with your priorities
The last piece is probably the hardest to master but gets easier with practice. You will likely realise that the world does not fall apart if you don’t agree to do something for someone else. I recently gave one of my clients the challenge of saying ‘no’ to requests at least 10 times in the space of a week. He was daunted by the task but found that people generally accepted this, particularly if there was a counter offer associated with it i.e. I can’t do that but here is something I could do, or I could do that today if I de-prioritise something else.
Finally, I’d say that changing ingrained behaviour and habits that have been formed over many years is much easier when you enlist the help of an accountability partner. If you know someone who is really good at this maybe they could be a mentor to you.
In my Modern Leadership Mastery Programme, the first thing I normally focus on is helping clients figure out what is important and to get clarity on what they want. This enables them to move forward while I hold them accountable to making change. Click here to find out more.
To get my free 30 step guide to dramatically improve your work-life balance click the image below.