HOW and WHAT to prioritize between work and personal life
Before we seek answers, we need to understand what has essentially changed in the last 10 months?
Pre-COVID Times – As We Knew It
The massive change that’s happened is the blurring line between work and personal life. With a slew of mobile devices flooding the #market and enabling software, every section of society got connected 24/7/365. And, of course, the #Telecomrevolution in India played a massive role that made #dataconsumption possible for the masses. India continues to have one of the lowest ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) in telecom.
Inevitably, it transformed into an outcome-driven world and the focus shifted to results, veering away from the age-old clock-in clock-out regime.
If you go back and read some of the columns published in 2019, the common thread was about reducing screen time, exercising, eating right, spending time with family, and striking a balance between #work and personal life. So, the stress & strain was evident already. The resultant effect was that we could multi-task with great dexterity (to the extent of being ambidextrous, even) but our attention span came under the scanner. After all, in an innovation-led world, humans must be able to focus for long periods. But that’s a theme for another column – how always wanting to take short-cuts may work to our detriment. And then we had a most unfortunate stray incident where a high-profile CEO lost his life while exercising. The din got louder – “Is it worth it?”
Realistically, there can never be a balance (in perpetuity) and it is only situational, depending on what we want to prioritize for that specific period. But let us spend some time and work out something indicative.
Putting a premium on time
Jamie Dimon, the Chairman & CEO of JP Morgan wakes up at 5 am every day (he does sleep for 7 hours) and reads for the next 1.5 – 2 hours, undisturbed. His archetypal “me-time”. In his own words, he reads “tons of stuff.” He knows, once he starts work, he will not be able to do any of that. He has a choice – he can sleep for two hours more. But he doesn’t. To be/remain “JAMIE DIMON”, he has to continually build his knowledge repository. Fortune 500 CEOs read a lot – often upto 50 books a year. Warren Buffett reads 500 pages a day, spending about 4 – 5 hours. And, this does not count the numerous annual reports of companies. That’s over and above.
Obviously, few people have the #opportunity to spend as much time reading but the point is, one has to make time for sustenance. For one individual it may be reading for another, it can be a sport. And, life will not give us the leeway, the onus is on us to squeeze out the time from our busy schedules to do what’s most important for us (besides work) – reading, exercising, spending time with family, investing in relationships, hobbies, etc. There isn’t a cookie-cutter approach. And the most important thing – how much time should we spend aimlessly scrolling on our phones? Do we really need that meeting or can that idea/information be exchanged over a digital tracker? We have to internalize the difference between having a busy day and a #productive one. Often, the two are mutually exclusive.
The power of compounding
Perhaps, the strongest idea in finance should also be adhered to in life. Whether it’s about saving/investing in relationships/or health, the little things we do every day will all add up, rather, multiply to yield exponential benefits over a period. That’s why we must be extremely careful about HABIT FORMATION.
Assessing One’s Capacity While Chasing Dreams
Elon Musk, at the time when Tesla was built, often worked 48 hours at a stretch sometimes longer and slept on the shop-floor, even. He is an outlier but in our ordinary lives, we come across obsessive individuals who can work extremely long hours (80 – 90 hours a week) – their body and mind allow it. They often get rewarded and rather handsomely – huge salaries, massive perks, positions, etc. We see their flashy lives on #socialmedia and with a touch of envy because we may have been with them in school. How did they make it BIG and why am I still living in a rented space? It is a common enough angst!
In consumerist terms, while trying to “keep up with the Jones’” we end up borrowing more than we have an appetite for. Living beyond our mental & physical capabilities is very dangerous and it is not uncommon to see people in their mid-thirties or early-40s having a mental & physical breakdown. While it’s critical that we are aware of our strengths and build on them every day, it’s equally crucial to appreciate our limitations. There is no shame in admitting that. Every, and I repeat, every human being has limitations. We may not know them well enough and that’s why we can’t see the obvious.