Balancing Your Professional and Personal Life

As if the demands of a business were not enough, we have other priorities!

Many of us are professionals, parents, philanthropists, care for parents or pets, and even try to have personal lives. For us as well as our clients, time is the ultimate luxury.

Time for our priorities of life depends on the return on investment in the business (of our time and money), which depends on the value we provide to our clients and the rewards we deserve to earn from them. Presumably, those rewards earn some time for us, too.

Time is similar to money in how we use it: We spend time; we save time; we invest time. We spend time to be productive. We save time when we perform tasks in less time or with less effort than previously. We invest time when we take time now to save time later.

Just like any investment, time can be planned. Time management strategies are often associated with achieving goals. These goals are recorded and may be broken down into a project, an action plan, or a simple task list. For individual tasks or for goals, an importance rating may be established, deadlines may be set, and priorities assigned. This process results in a plan with a task list or a schedule or calendar of activities.

Designers may schedule daily, weekly, monthly or other planning periods, usually fixed, but sometimes variable. Different planning periods may be associated with different scope of planning or review.

The objective is "productive use of time." The pay-off for each person on the team can easily be defined in terms of less overtime, less stress, more creativity and better quality of life! The plan starts with a schedule to use time more productively.

Delegation is a valuable investment of our time. When we delegate, we teach someone to perform tasks we usually perform. While the training process takes time now, the investment pays off later since we free our time to perform higher-payoff activities. The goal is to look for ways a person can save and invest time.

A technique that has been used in business management for a long time is the categorization of many tasks into priority groups. These groups are often marked A, B, and C. Activities are ranked upon these general criteria:

A – Tasks that are perceived as being urgent and important.
B – Tasks that are important but not urgent.
C – Tasks that are neither urgent nor important.

Each group is then rank-ordered in priority. To remain flexible, a task system must allow adaptation, in the form of rescheduling in the face of unexpected problems or opportunities. It’s all about respecting time, but not the tyranny of the "to-do" list.

Time is a limited resource that must be parsed out to accomplish a number of different activities. Some ways to conserve time include the following:

  • Assign priorities and adhere to them
  • Reduce interruptions from staff
  • Meet regularly to align current reality with goals and expectations
  • Empower staff / Delegate
  • Communicate often and fully
  • Manage open projects

More Information: