While driving back from work, do you worry that you’re unable to spend enough time with your family? When you’re enjoying some family time at a ski resort or beach, do you fear the large backlog of work waiting for you at the office? Do you feel like a gymnast on a balance beam? Sometimes, do you wonder if you should try to keep this balance, or just let go?
Focus on outcomes
After years of struggling with this dilemma, the answer came to me from my company’s tagline, “Delivering outcomes through actions.” The slogan means that it doesn’t matter how much time you devote to something, what matters is what actions you take and what outcomes you accomplish. I promote this philosophy incessantly in our company’s work culture through newsletters, videos and townhall meetings.
While I apply this to work and have had great success improving the efficiency of our workforce, I realized I could apply this to my personal life as well. Instead of worrying about time I spent with my family, I focused on concrete outcomes I wanted to accomplish. For example, with my son, who was 10 at that time, I made a list of simple and achievable outcomes. Teach him HTML. Watch the Star Wars movie. Order a drone and fly it with him. Once I focused on achieving these outcomes, I stopped worrying about time spent with him.
A tailored framework
While the outcome-focused approach worked well, a couple years later, I came across a framework that made it easier to implement this approach in everyday life.
The framework segments life into four quadrants — work, family, society and self. In each quadrant, identify a list of key outcomes that you wish to accomplish. Once these quadrants are filled with target outcomes, without worrying about time spent in each quadrant, you focus on accomplishing them.
You may spend a week dedicated to the work quadrant, but another week you complete more of the target outcomes from the family or self quadrants. This frees you from the worry of, “Am I spending enough time on my work and life?”
Here’s an example from my own life.
■ Work: Review 2020 budget.
■ Family: Help Neena with relocation.
■ Society: Plan YPO Edge conference.
■ Self: Get medical checkup.
Keep in mind, that the list of outcomes within each of the quadrants could change periodically.
An easy way to implement this framework is to use a task tracking app (e.g. Errands, Wunderlist, Trello, etc.). In this app, you can create four distinct folders for the quadrants and track the outcomes. I’ve found that updating the tasks/outcomes in these folders on a weekly basis has helped me be more efficient and, in turn, feel free from work+life anxiety.
Please try this framework for yourself and let me know if you find it useful.
Kinesh Doshi is the founder and CEO of Accion Labs Inc., a Pittsburgh-based technology services firm focused on building software using leading and emerging technologies. Kinesh has two degrees in engineering, an MBA in finance/marketing and more than 25 years in the tech industry. He moved to Pittsburgh in 2000 and founded Accion in 2011. Today, Accion has more than 2,600 employees in 10 countries. Because of this high-paced globally distributed workforce, Kinesh spends a lot of time thinking about and promoting work+life balance across Accion.