I am making my to-do list when I start to think about whether I am using every tool possible to keep my life in order. Many days, I feel overwhelmed. I know there are all kinds of tools out there to help, but what are they?
Today my guest blogger is Robin Wright, EVP, HR & Corporate Operations, GENBAND, a Plano, Texas-based company that makes software for telecoms and cable TV operators. Robin has people skills and tech skills, which makes her uniquely prepared to share her insight on tools that can help us keep our lives together more efficiently.
Here is Robin's perspective and tips for better work life balance:
As we move forward in the new year draws, we are generally full of resolve to make things better. In my role as head of HR and other corporate operations at GENBAND, this is an issue I talk about with a lot of people. As a former consultant and entrepreneur myself, I’m always interested in the different options and tools available to help manage our time and make the most of what we’ve got.
Luckily technology, which often feels as if it is overwhelming us, can also help. Here are some unique and effective solutions that can bring you one step closer to the ever-hoped-for work/life balance, remembering, of course, that progress, not perfection, is how we get to where we want to go.
You can’t change something you can’t measure – getting a sense of how much time you’re spending working, exercising, seeing the family, doing chores and everything else will help you see patterns and give you a sense of what adjustments you may need to make.
Apps like TimeTune for Android and ATracker for iOS follow routines and provide data so that we can analyze how we actually spend our days. With that knowledge in hand, it gets easier to work out how we can shift toward a more realistic ratio of working to relaxing. Because chances are high that we’re doing way more than we even realize.
It can be a challenge to stay organized while juggling all the various facets of life. Staying on top of things now can help to ensure that we will not be buried by it all before the year is over. While studies show that 89 percent of the workforce uses outdated technology, most of us also have access to smartphones or smartwatches. Simple but powerful tools like reminders, calendar markers, to-do and shopping lists, journals and even recording memos/conversations (with everyone’s authorization) can go a long way towards regaining some control.
Cozi helps alleviate scheduling concerns by putting all of these lists in one place. It includes a calendar, to-do list, shopping list, journal, and even a recipe manager. It’s cloud-based so that everyone in your household or family can access it easily. Gone are the days of frantic whispered phone calls at work to coordinate schedules, set up doctor’s appointments or even select the evening’s menu.
Another helpful app that goes beyond calendar reminders is Fantastical 2. It combines both and includes natural parsing language so that simple commands (typed or dictated) can be scheduled on your behalf. All events, reminders, alerts and to-do lists appear in one main feed. Simply tap to edit, copy, move or share an event or reminder.
Focusing on a task requires having the time to do so and that’s where scheduling can help. This might include planning a 30-minute prep session, dedicating 15 minutes to relaxation before heading to a client meeting, or getting started on a slide presentation. Plotting out time allotments at the beginning of each day, including mental health breaks and time for managing interruptions, can be a huge boost. Apps like Hours Time Tracking help us to stay on track and alert us when it's time to redirect our attention to the next task. Keeping to our allotted times can help with focus and productivity while keeping to our schedule will mean we can make it home on time.
Keep in Touch
Ernst and Young also reports that more employees are forced to work “flexible hours”, meaning they're expected to be on call whenever the company needs them. And we know that for small business owners and entrepreneurs, the line between work and non-work hours has always been blurry. Our mobile phones mean that we’re no longer tied to a desk for fear of missing an incoming call. But our phones have also become a critical part of our daily lifestyle, both personally and professionally, and we often have a hard time not answering, even if it’s not the right time.
Adding a business line to our personal phone can help by providing the option to switch back and forth between business and personal when we need to. For example, our own Business Phone by Kandy allows us to have two completely separate phone numbers (and voicemails) on one phone. We can share the business line with co-workers, and it will ring out on their phones too if one of us can’t pick up. There is also an “out of hours” setting so we won’t be disturbed when we’re on our own time.
To help keep up with our social lives, the Connect app makes getting with friends as simple as a few clicks. It puts us in touch with our contacts from our phone, email addresses, or social media accounts, shows us when someone is visiting nearby, and lets us quickly make plans for the evening.
Here’s to more balance in 2017, for all of us. And if you have any of your own tips, please leave them in the comments below.