I love listening to music. For me, it has the ability to change my mood, evoke memories and inspire action. Most of the time I listen to music on my iPhone, and the sound quality is good enough for me to enjoy the subtleties of particular genres from jazz to rock, classical or blues.
However, in the ‘old days’ I used to have a hi-fi system with speakers, an amplifier and a graphic equalizer. The purpose of the graphic equalizer was to adjust the bass and treble inputs to produce the best quality of sound for each type of music. It was possible to push all the slides to the max but it would not always produce the best output. The key was to adjust the slides according to the type of music you were listening to in order to equalize the sound appropriately. That meant being aware and making a conscious choice to get the best result possible.
It’s the same principle that you need to adopt if you want to optimize work and life. For me, it’s not about having all the slides at zero or ten, it’s about making a conscious choice to focus on particular areas of work or life at different times and then adjusting my behaviour accordingly, just like you would for different types of music.
For example, when Penny Streeter started up A24 Group in 1996, she was a single mother of three young children, and she chose to concentrate on making her business succeed whilst also caring for her young family. Her hard work and focus on growing the business paid off, and today A24 Group is a multi-million-pound medical staff recruitment and management organization operating with multiple brands in the United Kingdom and South Africa – an accomplishment that no doubt her family is proud of now.
Here are my five equalization tips to help you optimize your work/life:
1. Plan ahead
Reflect on where you are on your business journey and where you want to take it in the future. Then pinpoint the times when you think it will require more of your attention and plan ahead for those moments. Share your intentions with others who may be affected so that they are aware that your focus will be on work at those times, and not on other areas.
2. Take a new perspective
Be prepared to re-evaluate how you look at your life and how you would like to spend your time and consider all of the factors involved as a whole. Some people in corporate jobs work compressed hours so that they can have more time off, for example, in the summer to be with their children. Can you adjust your work/life to achieve what is important to you?
3. You don’t have to be on max all the time
When you use the graphic equalizer approach it gives you permission to stop doing everything to the same quality level. Maybe your house does not have to be dust free all the time, perhaps a lower standard might be acceptable at certain times. Learning to accept this approach can be the hardest aspect. However, ask yourself: “Whilst I may want everything to be perfect, what is the price I pay in other ways by behaving like this?”
4. Delegate to others
Learning the art of delegation is vital. Who else could help you with marketing, finance or management? Practice delegating at home, too. Maybe there are others who could get involved if you share with them the big picture and help to adjust their expectations of each person’s roles. Letting go is a wonderful way of becoming clear about how you truly add value and then focusing on your strengths and what you do best. The price for not doing so is you get no ‘ME-TIME’.
5. Choices do not have to be forever
Recognize that what you decide to do today does not have to be forever. When I was in my early twenties, I was really into athletics and trained daily, watched what I ate and recorded progress diligently. All the hard work paid off and I was invited to represent Scotland in the 3,000m and cross-country athletics events. I missed out on many other things but it was my choice. Now I have made different choices and spend my time in other ways. So make sure you regularly stop and evaluate how you are spending your time. And if you are not using it in a way that is taking you toward what you want, then do something different.
More information on Penny Streeter can be found in Secrets of Successful Women Entrepreneurs written by Sue Stockdale.