Work-life Balance, Making Choices, and Managing Your Energy - This Week's Friday Favourites

Posted by Amy Wallace Amy Wallace on .

There are many great articles online but it’s easy to miss them in the daily flurry of digital information. Even with RSS readers and read-later services, it’s easy to overlook some great blog posts throughout the week.

So we’ve rounded up some of our favourite blog posts that we read this week. If we’ve missed your favourite post, blog or author, or you simply have a suggestion for us, please let us know in the comments below! We love to discover new and wonderful writers!

1) Work-life balance for entrepreneurs

Starting up your own business takes a lot of time and with no end to the list of tasks to accomplish, it's sometimes difficult to put down the laptop in the evening and take a break.

Finding the right balance is not as easy as following a simple list of ideas but sometimes it can be a great place to start. Entrepreneur.com has a quick list of '10 Easy Steps for Entrepreneurs to Achieve Work-Life Balance'.

The list starts off with:

1. Find the fun. The typical entrepreneur grows a business from a seed of singular inspiration: a passion, an idea, a stroke of genius in the middle of the night. If you’re struggling from burnout, reorient yourself by focusing on your passions. Disconnect from the business (temporarily but completely) and rejuvenate through connections with family and friends.

2. Compartmentalize. One of the greatest advantages that entrepreneurs have is their inherent ability to see things differently. Their high degree of comfort with ambiguity gives them a marked advantage in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. But if you find yourself constantly in “reaction mode” because things are coming at you from all sides, every day, perhaps you’re blurring the boundaries between what’s urgent and what’s important. Stephen Covey created asimple, yet invaluable time-management system to help people organize tasks, behaviors and even thoughts and remove the trivial, time-wasting behaviors from their day. Give it a try.

3. Make lists. Create and maintain daily and weekly to-do lists, prioritizing each task. Use the 1-3-5 system. Keep simple paper lists or use the latest and greatest app. Figure out which system works for you, get it down and hold yourself accountable.

4. Be smart with your smartphone. Personal devices have become our lifelines, but they often can inadvertently control our lives. Be sure to use the “do not disturb” function and turn off your phone after a certain time at night. Tag your VIP emails so that you don’t feel the constant gravitational pull toward your device.

Take a look at the rest of the post to find out what other tips they suggest for busy entrepreneurs. 

2) Too much choice can be a bad thing

Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the breakfast cereal aisle in the supermarket, trying to decide which new cereal you might try, only to find yourself choosing the same old box because there's just too much choice?

It turns out that the same might be happening to customers who have too much choice on websites, lowering conversion rates. So if you have your own site or blog, read on to see how this overwhelming choice can be a bad thing.

In an article for Unbounce, Stefanie Grieser highlights this experience of too much choice:

The famous jam study, conducted by Professor Sheena Iyengar and referenced in her book The Art of Choosing is often cited when the topic of choice comes up.

During multiple Saturday afternoons in a high-end grocery store, researchers presented shoppers with two alternating sampling stations – one showcasing 24 flavors of jam and one featuring six options.

It turned our that when 24 flavors of jam were available, only 3% of those who tasted the samples went on to purchase the jam. However, when there were only six options available, 30% purchased at least one jar of jam.

While the larger selection attracted more onlookers, the smaller selection actually generated more sales. The study suggests that people are often overwhelmed by too many choices, which leads to what has been called action paralysis.

Using this as an example, she goes on to demonstrate examples of how more choice on your website could be leading to lower conversions, including adding multiple social network sharing buttons. The more the buttons, the fewer the items added to a shopper's online basket.

It's a somewhat counter-intuitive idea but read through the rest of Stefanie's article to see how this could be affecting your own conversion rates.

3) Being aware of what you've accomplished

We've already written about the idea of a Done List on the Updatey Blog. It's something that we're very fond of because it can give you a great psychological boost to help you when you're feeling less than productive. Knowing what you've achieved, and simply the fact that you are able to be productive when the mood is right, can make a real difference to your long-term productive.

It's also great to have a record of what you've done and you can even use it as a way to track when and how you're most productive by adding information about location, time of day, music, and even temperature to your list.

Janet Choi writes for the iDoneThis blog and has written a post for 99u.com that details why you should start your own done list and how powerful it can be.

One of the hints Janet gives is to:

Count your small wins.
Don’t wait until you’ve hit big goals like completing a project or getting a promotion — which happen only occasionally and make it difficult to appreciate small but important advancements. Don’t dismiss all the smaller things that fill out your days and are building up in the long run.

Even if you don’t finish a project or hit a major milestone, you’ve likely made progress on some aspect, whether it’s a super rough draft or sketching out a plan. Record that and give small steps their due.

Understanding what you've achieved and giving yourself a pat on the back for your hard work, rather than always focusing on what should come next, is a great way to keep your motivation up. Take a look at the rest of Janet's post to see her recommendations for keeping a done list. 

4) Can working on humility, kindness and calmness improve your life?

The world can be a ruthless and competitive place where everyone is expected to show themselves off to be as clever, powerful, and wonderful as possible. Certainly, that's the impression you might get when preparing for your next job interview.

But what if turning down the ego and emphasising a more humble and calm persona, while maintaining your necessary passion, could help you get further in life?

Patrick Allan writes on Lifehacker that:

It might seem obvious that humility, kindness, and calmness are positive traits. But in case you ever needed more of a reason to exhibit these things, they don't just help others—they help you and make your life easier.

So extend your hand in kindness and offer help to those who need it. They just might extend their hand back to help you get where you want to go. Admit you're wrong when you are and find a way to believe that other people might be better than you at something. They just might offer you advice or teach you how to get better at a particular skill. And, no matter what happens, always try and remain calm and keep from going off the deep end. Everyone you've ever met is trying to do the exact same thing you are. Life is a lot easier when you accept that you aren't the only one living it.

This doesn't mean that you should allow yourself to be walked over and manipulated, all in the aim of being kind all the time, but understanding that others are going through the same experiences you are, and might just want to lend a hand, might just help you build new relationships. Head over to the post here to see why working on these three elements can make you happier and give you a better outlook on life.

5) Managing energy rather than time

James Clear is well known for his great advice about building good habits and understanding your own attitude towards productivity. In a recent video, James explains the thing that changed the way he viewed his productivity: managing his energy rather than his time.

We all have the same numbers of hours and minutes in day but it often feels like some people are getting a lot more done with those hours than others. Often, those people have taken the time to learn about their own habits and understand the way they work best.

Taking note of the days when you're most productive and working out how much sleep you had the night before or what music you were listening to can help you recreate that same productivity. The brain is very clever but sometimes it needs coaxing into being as productive as we want it to be.

It can take a while to understand your own creative rhythms and learn when and how you're most productive but it's very worth the time and effort. Head over to watch the short video to see how James's productivity changed by thinking about his energy rather than his time. 

Let us know what you thought of these posts or if you have any suggestions for next week's post in the comments below, or say hi by Tweeting us or sending us an email.