How To Create More Work-Life Balance When You Have Lots To Accomplish

by Laurie Erdman on February 4, 2013

Work-Life BalanceIf you’re stressed out and think you have more to do than anyone else, than today’s post might upset you a bit. Just know I am sharing my thoughts not out of judgment or self-righteousness but because I’ve been there and I’ve learned a few things about creating balance and doing more.

I used to believe I didn’t have the time to exercise, cook, eat right or do anything else necessary to keep my body in top working order. I used to believe I had to work 10 hours a day to get promoted. I used to believe that if I didn’t finish everything on my possibly long to do list I would be fired.

Guess what? It was all B.S.

Belief systems that is. (And of course bullshit).

We’re Stuck In Our Belief Systems

As often is the case with our belief systems, especially beliefs around cause and effect, they are wrong. These beliefs aren’t always our fault. We were taught them by parents and society.

Consider for instance the quote “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going” by Beverly Sills. Or “hard work means everything” by Paul Suskind. Or how about the US Marine Corp saying “no one ever drowned in sweat. We are taught from an early age that hard work is the means to success.

I don’t mean to suggest that sitting on the couch eating bon-bons will bring you success. However, I do believe we have distorted the concept of hard work into something that often crosses the line into self-imposed abuse.  We work longer and longer hours, depleting our body of its physical and spiritual essence, often to find ourselves empty and/or sick. This is not just my story, but the story of so many woman I hear from.

Just as harmful as the work hard to achieve mantras, is the notion we can achieve work-life balance. Our dogged pursuit of balance often results in more burnout as we strive to have it all.

How To Get More Done In Less Time

So how do we exit the world of overused sayings and dis-empowering belief systems and still create a life worth living that feels balanced and healthy? One of the secrets is Parkinson’s Law.

A few weeks ago, I found myself with one of those ridiculously long to do lists. Seriously, I was leaving town for 2 weeks and needed to get 3 weeks of work done. It seemed impossible. But I didn’t have a choice.

So I sat down and things that usually took me hours to do – like a blog post – ended up taking me a third to a quarter of the time to complete. By the time I got on the plane I had indeed gotten 3 weeks of work done in just a few days. Wowza.

So when you say you don’t have time to do something, I call foul. Heck, this week I’m calling foul on myself as I find myself back in my 2 hours per blog post world. J

How is it possible to get more done in less time? It’s called Parkinson’s law and it states: “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” I first heard of this law in Tim Ferriss’ “Four Hour Work Week.”. At the time I scoffed. Not possible. Parkinson clearly didn’t know my life. But I’ve now seen it in action.

If I give myself 3 hours to make dinner, it will take 3 hours. If I give myself 15 minutes, it will take 15 minutes.

Sure sometimes, I want to cook a gourmet, multi-step meal. Or spend 2 hours writing an article. But when time is crunched, here are a few tips I’ve learned on how to maximize Parkinson’s law.

  1. Write down EVERYthing you have to do. Efficiency is the game here and that means you can’t be interrupted with unexpected items. Get it all out on a piece of paper before you begin taking a single action.
  2. Be very clear on the time frame you have to accomplish it. It’s hard to achieve a goal if it’s a moving target. Just like you don’t want to be surprised with new items for the list, you don’t want to be surprised with having less time than you actually have.
  3. Consolidate like intentions. We lose efficiency if we are flipping back and forth between items with different intentions. Think of intentions as “what is the purpose of this to do item?” For instance, I had 3 blog/vlog postings to complete. They have the common intention of educating and entertaining my readers with useful information. Contrast that to the 7 emails I needed to write for my Fuel Your Body*Fuel Your Bliss cleanse, which had the common intention of inspiring my cleanse participants to create happiness in their lives and guide them through the cleanse process. Different intentions use different parts of your brain. Organize you to do list by common intentions and then work on a single intention at a time.
  4. Stop, drop and roll.  Before you dive into action, step away from the list, hydrate, stretch, move around, listen to music, alkalize and meditate. All of these activities will prepare your body, mind and spirit for the tasks at hand. If it helps, you can think of these activities like those a warrior used to prepare for battle. They aren’t that dissimilar.
  5. Rinse and repeat. When you complete a group of like intentions, stop, drop and roll again. You can use the same regimen or maybe change up the music depending on the intention of the next set of to do items. This will re-energize and refocus you on your goal and keep you moving.
  6. Stay focused but don’t panic. Stay focused on the goal and your time available. Don’t lose sight. However, it’s easy to look at the clock and panic. Don’t. Have faith you will get it all done. And take lots of deep breaths.

Do you have a story of a time you got more done than you thought possible? Share your story with us below.

With love, light and energy,


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Laurie Erdman, JD, MS, CHHC is a speaker, Get More Energy Strategist and the CEO of The Ignite Well Being Institute LLC where she helps companies sustain fast growth by energizing their people. To download her FREE book: Burnout. Identify It. Extinguish It. Ignite Your Life visit www.TheIgniteWellBeingInstitute.com.

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