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[Book Summary] Get a Life! Creating a Successful Work-Life Balance

Get a Life! (2020) is a practical guide to finding, and maintaining a healthy balance between your work and your personal life. By going through the various aspects that influence these two key areas, as well as how you can adjust them to your benefit, the summaries to Get a Life! will empower you to make the choices that lead to a well-rounded and satisfying life.

[Book Summary] Get a Life! Creating a Successful Work-Life Balance

Content Summary

Genres
Introduction: What’s in it for me? Start creating more harmony in your life today.
Understanding the lay of the land and making key connections will help you form beneficial work relationships.
Doing more of what makes us feel good and acknowledging our achievements improves job satisfaction.
By learning to work strategically and allowing others to help us, we can achieve much more in less time.
Investing in healthy relationships with ourselves, and with others, contributes to our well-being.
Where family and friends are concerned, focusing on quality time is essential.
Our homes affect our moods and mental states. So, we should do what we can to make sure they meet our needs.
Being constantly connected reduces our quality of life, and can potentially harm us.
Taking the time to look after your mind and body improves your ability to handle the stresses of life.
Final Summary
Video and Podcast

Genres

Productivity, Mindfulness, Happiness, Business Culture

Introduction: Start creating more harmony in your life today.

The idea of good work-life balance can easily sound like the stuff of dreams. Life seems to ask more and more of us, and it can be hard to know how to simply get by, let alone achieve a semblance of balance.

But these summaries explain how to do just that.

In every aspect of life, we have a choice between accepting less than ideal conditions, at work or at home, or making changes that will leave us feeling happier and more in control. These summaries focus on the latter, by highlighting the steps you need to take to create meaningful experiences at work, establish and maintain healthy relationships, and find time to nurture yourself.

In these summaries, you’ll learn

  • how to feel happier in a job you don’t particularly love;
  • what former president Eisenhower can teach you about time management; and
  • what some friendships have in common with junk food.

Understanding the lay of the land and making key connections will help you form beneficial work relationships.

If you’ve ever tried to assemble a bookshelf without first reading the instructions, you’ll know that it’s not an easy endeavor. In spite of your best efforts, you’ll find yourself wasting a lot of time trying to slot the wrong pieces together or searching for the right grommets and screws. Eventually, you’ll give up and defer to the instructions, when, suddenly, everything becomes crystal clear! You know what each piece is and where it needs to go.

Assembling bookshelves might not be an activity we associate with work, but there’s a lesson to be learned here: it helps to get to know how everything, or in this case, everyone, fits together.

The key message here is: Understanding the lay of the land and making key connections will help you form beneficial work relationships.

Every workplace has its own set of personalities and its own unique dynamic. For instance, you might find yourself in an office where the staff eats lunch together, or where playful and fun activities are part of the company culture.

In this setting, eating lunch alone at your desk while everyone sits together won’t help you connect with your colleagues or make friends, and neither will refusing to take part in company activities. To form good relationships with your colleagues you need to pay attention to what the company dynamics and norms are, and adapt accordingly.

These relationships will not only help you fit in and enjoy your time at work, they’re also useful for networking. Networking goes beyond having lunch buddies – it allows you to connect with people you can learn from and share information with. What you pick up from conversations with your colleagues could help you navigate your work or professional challenges better, or even advance your career.

But networking isn’t just about what people can do for you. The key to genuine and successful networking is that it should also benefit the other person. So, offer help and guidance whenever you have the opportunity to. By investing in the relationship, you’ll improve your experience and open the door to opportunities for growth.

Doing more of what makes us feel good and acknowledging our achievements improves job satisfaction.

How many people do you know who are completely in love with their job? Probably not that many.

Since working is how we make a living, we don’t always have the option of waiting for the perfect job to find us. As a result, some people end up in jobs that leave them less than satisfied. Fortunately, though, it is possible to inject some level of satisfaction into a less-than-perfect job.

The key message is: Doing more of what makes us feel good and acknowledging our achievements improves job satisfaction.

Job satisfaction requires that we experience three things: validation from ourselves or others, the fulfillment that comes with completing something, and, finally, feeling good about the work we’ve done.

A simple way to enhance these is to think about what aspects of work make us feel validated, fulfilled, or pleased with ourselves. If a particular colleague affirms that we’re good at what we do, then one option is to work with them more, or at the very least spend more time with them. Or, if certain types of projects give us a rush when we complete them, we can ask for more of the same. By doing so, we’ll start to experience more of the feelings that help us feel good about what we do.

But what happens if nothing ticks any of those boxes? Well, this is an opportunity to explore what would make you feel validated, fulfilled and happy, and how to incorporate this into the job. A manager, career coach, or therapist can help you figure this out, and suggest some necessary changes you can make.

Sometimes, however, our lack of enthusiasm about work is because we simply don’t acknowledge our achievements. It’s quite easy to get into a routine of ticking things off a list, quickly moving on to the next project or task. But when this happens, we don’t take the time to reflect on a job well done, and to pat ourselves on the back.

This might feel strange or uncomfortable for those who’ve been taught to be humble. But it’s a good idea to write down three achievements at the end of each workday. These should be things that we consciously set out to do. By the end of the week, we’ll have a long list reminding us of what we’ve accomplished, which can really boost our attitude towards work.

By learning to work strategically and allowing others to help us, we can achieve much more in less time.

Whether we’re juggling our responsibilities as parents, or on a mission to meet quarterly targets at work, one factor that always gets in the way of achieving work-life balance is time. There never seems to be enough of it, and many of us aren’t that good at managing the little we have.

No one wants to spend more hours at work or lose sleep trying to finish their chores – it doesn’t have to come to that. It is possible to cross off everything on our to-do lists in the time available.

The key message in this chapter is: By learning to work strategically and allowing others to help us, we can achieve much more in less time.

Most of us manage our workload by, for example, trying to individually complete every task as it comes. A pattern quickly forms where we drop one task when the boss briefs us on something new that needs attention, which we later abandon because a colleague asks for help with yet another. This approach is far from effective. Ultimately, we’ll end up struggling to finish anything, and grow increasingly frustrated about the trail of incomplete tasks.

To remedy this, we first need to understand that not everything is urgent, or even important. By taking the time to figure out where on our priority list a task should fall, we can create a plan of action that allows us to actually complete tasks.

The author suggests a method used by former US president Eisenhower, aptly named The Eisenhower Principle. Here’s how it works: tasks that are both important and urgent should be tackled first, and those that are important, but not urgent should be scheduled next. For things that are urgent but unimportant, consider asking for help. The bottom of this list should include everything else that’s neither important nor urgent, and where you can use your discretion to decide if these tasks are even necessary at all.

The Eisenhower Principle touches on an important aspect of time management: delegation.

Being strategic with our time also means recognizing and accepting that we can’t do everything alone; we should be asking others to help. Sometimes, we find it difficult to delegate because we don’t think that anyone else has the necessary skills, but in many cases it’s possible to teach others what they need to do. Sure, this might take some time at first, but once they get the hang of it, we’ll have ready and capable helpers at hand. At work and at home, we gain more time and peace of mind when we trust other people to take on some of our workload.

Investing in healthy relationships with ourselves, and with others, contributes to our well-being.

Imagine this: after years of looking, you finally land your dream job. It’s challenging and exciting, the salary’s great, and your colleagues are fun and friendly team players.

But, not everything is perfect. Going home fills you with dread because your relationship with your partner is strained or, conversely, you’re single, which you find frustrating and lonely. And so, in the end, the joy you get from your job won’t mean much once you’re off the clock.

Though personal or intimate relationships reflect only one aspect of our lives, they have a profound effect on everything else. They can even impact how we function at work. As such, it’s important to take the necessary steps to develop happy, healthy relationships. This work, however, starts long before a partner arrives.

The key message here is: Investing in healthy relationships with ourselves, and with others, contributes to our well-being.

Whether or not you ultimately want to find a partner, being single is an opportunity to learn more about yourself, and gain an understanding of your wants and needs. When you’re fully aware of these things, it becomes easier to partner with someone who compliments you.

One way to start is by reflecting on your qualities and the things you enjoy. Ask yourself a few questions: What do I find most exciting about life? What do I love about myself? What’s my proudest achievement so far? By considering questions like these, you can hone in on what makes you tick, and start integrating more of those affirming activities, and positive self-reflections into your life.

But reflecting on your personality isn’t all there is to understanding yourself. You can also dig into your past experiences and deal with any current issues that might have developed as a result. These might be a difficult childhood, for example, or a stressful relationship with an ex. By thoughtfully examining such experiences from your past, alone or with the help of a therapist, you can heal emotional wounds that might be getting in the way of you forming healthy relationships with friends or potential partners, in the present.

A relationship, if and when you do enter one, also requires work. Both partners have wants and needs, as well as responsibilities within the partnership. In addition, compromises have to be made for the good of the unit. And so you’ll find that building a healthy relationship means ensuring that each of you finds fulfillment, and that no party is unnecessarily doing or giving up more than the other.

Where family and friends are concerned, focusing on quality time is essential.

Have you ever heard the term “empty calories?” It refers to food that makes you full and gives you an energy boost, but which doesn’t actually provide your body with the nutrients it needs. If you’re stuck for an example, consider your favorite junk food – there’s a good chance that whatever it is fits this descriptor.

If all you eat is junk food, you may feel full, but you’ll never be nourished. Nourishment isn’t about how much you eat, it’s about what you eat. The same is true of time spent with family and friends. You can spend all the time in the world with them, but if you don’t do it in the right way, or with the right people, you’ll still feel drained and frustrated afterward.

The key message here is: Where family and friends are concerned, focusing on quality time is essential.

A good example of this is friendships that aren’t reciprocal. Think about it: Have you ever had a friend who took more than they gave in the relationship? You might have helped them out when they needed a hand, or made an effort to call them during a difficult period, but when things were tough for you, they failed to show any support. Does that sound familiar? It’s these types of friendships that leave you feeling unfulfilled in your personal life.

In order to address this, you need to focus on the quality of your relationships and interactions. Prioritize spending time with the friends who reciprocate your efforts, and make you feel valued and cared for.

The idea of ending friendships that aren’t mutually beneficial might be daunting, but it’s doable. Family relationships, however, are much trickier.

Let’s say you currently have a difficult relationship with your mother because you haven’t gotten along in the past. Rather than choosing to simply avoid her, a better solution is to acknowledge the conflict and work through it, where possible. If there’s no resolution in sight, a good compromise is to just agree to disagree, and then steer clear of conversations that could trigger arguments. This ensures that the time you spend with family, where she’s present, doesn’t become, or continue to be, a source of anguish.

Now, if you’re a parent, you’ll know that caring for your children is a time-consuming and never-ending job. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have help from a partner or babysitter, a lot of your time outside of work will involve running around trying to meet your children’s needs. Understandably, this leaves you tired and with little time to yourself.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. Just like any relationship, there should be some balance where your kids are concerned. You can create this by introducing activities that you can enjoy, too. For instance, if you’re a keen gardener, have your child join in! You can teach them about the plants in the garden while doing something that relaxes you.

Our homes affect our moods and mental states. So, we should do what we can to make sure they meet our needs.

If you’ve spent any amount of time flipping through televisions channels, you’ll know that there are countless shows dedicated to perfect homes. People view multiple properties, consult design experts, and invest their time and money in search of the right home.

Having a production crew while house hunting is out of reach for most of us, but like the people on these shows, we should put some thought into our homes because they, in fact, have an effect on our well-being.

The key message in this chapter is: Our homes affect our moods and mental states. So, we should do what we can to make sure they meet our needs.

Home is where you retreat from the outside world and, ideally, it should provide you with more than just a roof over your head. Here, you need to feel safe, comforted, and like you belong. Some people want decor right out of a magazine spread, while others care more about keeping everything spotlessly clean. The key here is to create the conditions that leave you in the best mood and state of mind.

Now, controlling your space when you live alone is fairly easy, but things can get complicated when you add housemates or family members to the equation.

People tend to have different living habits. For example, you might fancy having a quiet night at home after work, while your housemate prefers inviting friends over. Or, maybe you don’t mind if the dishes aren’t done immediately after a meal, but it annoys your partner. Situations like these can cause conflict and disrupt what would otherwise be a calm environment.

Maintaining peace is a matter of compromise. People living together have to be willing to discuss what they need, and, most importantly, come to a solution that suits everyone involved.

There’s one more thing that can potentially disturb any peace you’ve created at home, and that’s work. The idea of working from home is becoming more and more popular, but as convenient as it sounds, it’s not the best thing for everyone.

However tempted you are by the thought of seeing more of your kids or not having to sit in traffic, ask yourself if you can actually get any work done at home. Do you have the right space and equipment to do your job? Will you have quiet, uninterrupted time to focus? These types of factors can make the difference between productivity and frustration when it comes to the prospect of working from home. There’s also the social aspect – some people miss the company of colleagues.

After giving it more thought, you might find that you’re better off braving the traffic and heading to the office!

Being constantly connected reduces our quality of life, and can potentially harm us.

There’s no denying that technology has given us some great perks. We can look up information in seconds, and pause and rewind live television, which is incredible for anyone who grew up rushing to get back to their program before the end of an ad break! Many of our devices also allow us to stay in touch with friends, family, and everyone in between.

As wonderful as all this is, though, there are downsides to some of these tech advancements.

The key message in this chapter is: Being constantly connected reduces our quality of life, and can potentially harm us.

For starters, with so many ways to communicate, many of us feel the need to respond to text messages and emails as soon as they come in. Doing so interrupts our work, our time with friends and family, and even the time we should be using to rest.

To take back these moments, we need to realize that not everything requires an immediate response. That being said, it can be difficult to ignore messages when you hear your phone pinging away in your pocket. Fortunately, technology has also given us the tools to control some of the influx. For instance, you can allocate times when your email and text notifications are off. This can be at dinnertime when you’re with your family, or when you’ve decided to relax at the end of the day.

Once you have your emails and texts under control, you should take a look at how you use social media.

The urge, and sometimes pressure, to share the best of our lives online and keep tabs on everyone else can prevent us from enjoying life in real time.

Social media can also expose us to online bullying or spark feelings of inadequacy if we feel our lives don’t match what we see in our timelines. This doesn’t mean that you should delete all your social media accounts right away, though. After all, many of us have enriching interactions with friends and family through these platforms.

Like most things in life, moderation works in this scenario, too. Be conscious about when and how you use social media. If you think that it’s taking up too much of your time, or affecting you negatively, make the decision to reduce how often you go online.

Taking the time to look after your mind and body improves your ability to handle the stresses of life.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. Work commitments, coordinating the kids’ schedules, and obligations to friends and partners can make finding a moment to yourself seem impossible. But making time for yourself is exactly what you need to do if you want to avoid stretching yourself too thin.

The key message here is: Taking the time to look after your mind and body improves your ability to handle the stresses of life.

It’s normal to have some anxiety and stress now and again, but these feelings can intensify when you’re overwhelmed by work and life commitments. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to prioritize your mental well-being by setting aside some me-time.

Put everything else on pause and create space in your schedule to unwind and nurture yourself. Any activity that relaxes your mind and leaves you feeling rejuvenated will do the trick. Soak in a bubble bath, play an instrument, or take a long walk. Doing these types of things regularly will help you maintain a healthy mind.

While you’re making time for your mind, it’s also necessary to commit to taking care of your body through exercise. Not only does regular exercise keep you physically fit, it also improves your energy, focus, and mood.

And, if you’re wondering how often you should be increasing your heart rate, the World Health Organization recommends a total of 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week for people between the ages of 18 and 64. Crucially, in order to ensure that you stick to your scheduled exercise, pick an activity that you enjoy! If running on the treadmill at a gym doesn’t work for you, try kickboxing or a dance class. Anything goes, as long as it gets your body moving.

After a full day of commitments – with some exercise and relaxation thrown in, of course – the final thing you need to make time for is rest.

Getting around eight hours of sleep is critical for the mind and body, and makes it easier to tackle the demands a new day inevitably brings. If you get too little sleep, you’ll be low on energy and concentration. In addition to regular exercise and relaxation, avoiding coffee and alcohol, and creating a bedtime routine, are a couple more things you can do to improve the overall quality of your sleep.

Final Summary

The key message is:

Getting the best possible deal personally and professionally is a matter of making enriching connections and being intentional about how you spend your time. Whether it’s a day at the office, or leisure time at home or with friends, a focus on efficiency, boundaries, and having fulfilling experiences will create a sense of harmony across all aspects of your life.

Actionable advice: Add some creativity and excitement to your life!

Being creative and feeling the thrill that comes with pushing your boundaries are both nourishing experiences. They add to your enjoyment of life, widen your perspective, and also have the potential to influence other areas of your life. For instance, exploring creativity can improve your problem-solving skills at work, while an adventurous hobby could give you the confidence to try new things in your personal and professional life.

You don’t have to be an artistic genius to feel creative – any activity that requires you to express yourself or explore new ways of thinking will get your creative juices flowing. And if you think thrill-seeking means going bungee jumping, think again. You can find excitement by simply trying something you’ve never done before.

Video and Podcast

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