A great career or work-life balance. You can have either, but you have to pick.

This is what I was generally told growing up by well-meaning people in my life. I heard the same about motherhood and career.

And as you've probably guessed, I call BS.

Because I'm living proof that you can have both! And it frustrates me to no end that this is the narrative that we, as women, grow up hearing.

If you're reading this newsletter my guess is you already know you want both. You don't want to choose between a fulfilling career you love and having a life you love outside of work.

Listen, I'm not saying it's EASY to have both. It takes intention and discipline. But if you're willing to do put the effort in, you may be surprised by what you can create in your life.

Ready to jump in?

If the answer is YES, and you want to start making this change in your life today, I've created a 5 step guide to help you get started. Here we go…

STEP 1 – GAIN CLARITY

The first thing you need is clarity around what you want the end state to look like. Most of us have a vague idea of what our dream life could be, but have you taken the time to put it on paper?

Spend some time crafting this for yourself. You can do it through journalling, or even brainstorming a list of all of the elements you want as part of your ideal life.

Important: This should include elements of your career and your life outside of work. That's the whole point!

If you're not sure where to start, think about what you'd love your life to look like in each of the following categories: career, relationships, health, wealth, parenthood, passions/hobbies

The reason this is so important is: 1. When you allow yourself to visualize the life you want in detail, you're more likely to take action towards making it happen and 2. If you don't know where you're going, it's hard to get there!

STEP 2- SHIFT YOUR MINDSET

Okay, this is a big one. Ladies, it's time to get really honest about why you feel as though you can't carve out any time for yourself. Is it really that work makes it ‘impossible'?

Or could fear be involved?

Years ago, I was in this position. I used to say, “I HAVE to go on this work trip” or “I have no choice but to work late tonight”, because at the time I thought it was the truth.

It was not.

It was my perception about my own value. You see, I felt that my value was in getting shit done. In delivering 100% more than anyone else.

I was afraid that if I dialed it back, I would no longer be seen as valuable. Maybe I'd even be fired.

It took me a long time to recognize that this was in my own head. Because the truth is, especially as you move further towards senior leadership, doing more than everyone else is exactly what you DON'T want to do.

You want to slow down, be thoughtful and spend more time on strategic thinking and delivering valuable insights to the business.

So here's the shift – you need to start believing that you can work fewer hours and STILL be of equal value to your company, because of the QUALITY of work and knowledge you bring to the table. And I know for you A-type overachievers like me, this can be a tough shift to make.

Part of this comes with asking yourself what the things are that only YOU can do (vs. your team) so you can start spending a disproportionate amount of time there, while delegating more of the rest…

STEP 3- PRIORITIZATION

Now that you know your ideal life involves working fewer hours, and you believe you can do this while still adding a ton of value to your company, it's time to talk prioritization.

I never start with this one, because until you've completed the first 2 steps, it's far less effective. It's only now that you're really ready to make some more tactical changes.

So why is prioritization so important? Well, if you're working 10-12hr days, I promise not everything you're doing is a priority. It's just not.

You're probably doing a bunch of ‘I'll just do this myself because it will be faster than teaching someone else' tasks, or ‘This is a crappy task so I feel bad about delegating it' things. Am I right? Oh, and you're probably also attending a bunch of meetings you don't need to be at.

So ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the things that only I can do? Am I spending enough time on them?
  • What are the things that could be delegated? Why have I not delegated them?
  • Am I attending meetings I don't need to be at? Have I done a calendar audit? (If you're not sure what that is, check out this newsletter about how to be a better leader by doing less)
  • What's the one thing I can do today that will make everything else easier or unnecessary? (Taken from book The ONE Thing)

It may not be easy to make this shift, so remind yourself WHY you're doing this. This will start to free up your time to be more effective at work while doing less.

STEP 4- EFFICIENCY

Now that you're doing the right things, how can you be more efficient with your time? If you've been following me for a while, you know I'm a HUGE fan of time blocking. It's one of those game-changing habits that will help you be a great leader.

The hard truth is that most people are not very efficient with their time! They start an important task, and break to check social media. Or, get into some important analysis and then hear the ‘ping' of their email or Slack and shift their attention to answering the incoming message.

These habits are part of the reason you need to work 12hr days!

If you can truly be efficient with your time, you'll naturally produce twice the output of anyone else in the same amount of time. I know because I've done this myself.

Convinced and need a starting point?

First, for the love of Pete, turn off our email, Slack and cellphone notifications when you're working on something important and strategic.

Switching between tasks creates mental and physical fatigue and reduces both your concentration and your performance. And if you're still not convinced, there's a UCI study that showed when you get distracted, it takes an average of 23min 15sec to get back on track!

What a waste of precious time.

Next, create blocks in your day to tackle strategic/deep work. I've said this before but it bears repeating – I recommend at least a single 2hr block in your week.

Finally, taking time to organize your day at the end of the previous day, and your week at the end of the previous week will help you stay on track.

STEP 5- BOUNDARIES

Last but certainly not least, let's talk boundaries. There's a reason I didn't start with this, and it's because boundaries without the other 4 steps are bound to fail.

You need to believe you deserve boundaries and understand what's at stake if you don't hold them firm. And let's face it, we still need to get our work done! So completing steps 1-4 will help you create boundaries and maintain them successfully.

Now, what your boundaries look like is up to you – there's no one size fits all here. I'll share mine in case they help to inspire you:

  • I don't do any client calls (coaching or otherwise) on Fridays. If you're my client, you know this is true!
  • I block off 1hr for lunch every day to eat a proper meal and go for a walk with my partner
  • I don't do any 1:1 coaching on evenings or weekends
  • I don't start coaching until 9am every day so I have time with the kiddos in the morning
  • I eat dinner with my family every night. Coaching calls are done by 4pm and I'm fully present by 5pm
  • I take time for ME every morning to work out, cold plunge and meditate before I tackle my day
  • I don't take on work or clients who are not aligned with my mission and vision

Now, I'll be honest… my boundaries did NOT start like this! There were years where my mornings were complete chaos with zero ‘me-time' and when I would text my partner to throw a granola bar into the room because I hadn't blocked off lunch.

There have been times where I've committed to lucrative projects and then regretted it, but had to push through and complete them… hating it the whole time.

I've been adding to and refining my boundaries over time to find what works for me.

If you're looking at my list and thinking, “Well, I'm so far away from this that there's no point…” STOP! You don't have to go from 0-100. Instead, what is a BABY step you can take in the direction of the life you want?

Maybe you start with something simple like – starting you day by being present with your family or taking some time for yourself instead of rolling over in bed and jumping on Slack.

Or, maybe you simply carve out 30-45min for a real lunch instead of eating a granola bar at your desk.

The key is to start SMALL. Do this for a few weeks and see how you feel.

If you're anything like me, once you get a taste for the good life, you'll never want to go back!

Until next time friends… ✌️💜

Katy