The question of how to achieve the ideal work-life balance is something every busy professional person has to deal with at some point. In fact, for many people it can almost become an all-consuming question—one that goes to the heart of some very deep personal imperatives. It can be very distressing to your well-being, after all, to feel pulled in different directions when it comes to your most precious resource: your time.

I think a lot of that anxiety starts when we look at the issue in the wrong way.

For instance, the very concept of searching for a “work-life balance” implies that they are two different things. But work is very much a part of life, and if you continue to think of it as a zero-sum game—where you are continually borrowing from one to give to the other—you are always going to feel in conflict. As I have often said, the ideal life comes when each year you live 365 days of equal value.

The truth is, there are actually four kinds of time you should be thinking about—not two—and if you give them each the right consideration, they will all work together to provide you with that sense of “balance” we all want.

Time off comes first—this is the high priority personal time (weddings, graduations, vacations, etc.) that bring meaning to your life. Get these non-negotiable days in the calendar first.

Time away is the time you spend at courses and meetings for clinical and professional development. These are the days that keep your excitement for the possibilities in your career (and your life) alive and thriving.

Time on is the time you spend in the practice working with your team on implementing your growth strategies.

Time in is the time you spend in the practice, treating patients and creating revenue. This is what most people think about when they think about “work” time.

Again, each of these kinds of time—just like each day—should have equal value. Spending time with the team and working on growth strategies is just as important as the time you spend in the operatory, but too often it gets crowded into whatever “leftover time” you can find. The same goes for away time—don’t just cram in CE requirements on a weekend and come back feeling rushed and tired. Plan the time thoughtfully and make sure it is purposeful and meaningful so that you can really absorb the learning and put it to optimal use.

Ultimately, what you do on your “away” time will influence what you do during your “on” time, and that will increase the value of your “in” time.

That’s how you take control of your life and make your days work for you.

To find out more about how to incorporate these calendar priorities into an effective career plan, be sure to see my newest Digital Learning course, Fundamental Leadership Objectives.



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