We work and work and work.  And for what?  To work some more?  To say we’ve lived a life to work?  To know we’ve worked as hard as we possibly could?

And what’s the point?  To earn money, right?  To be successful, to say we’ve accomplished things professionally, and to make a larger impact in the world.  It does matter at the end of the day how hard and how much we’ve worked.  Depending on the output that our input yields, our work may provide for a better life.

As many of you have probably heard by now, it’s all about that magical balancing act.  But unfortunately for you, that cherished work-life balance is a thing of fiction.  Review our previous blogs and you’ll read all about it… you can never be as good as a chair is at being a chair.  We are not meant to be perfect at any one thing, but we are able to be good at a variety of different activities.

Therefore, the question becomes how do we ensure we don’t work too hard, but we work hard enough?  Well, I’m sorry to break it to you but that question would take an entire novel to properly answer.  So rather the goal is to speak to you about how to capitalize on those few precious hours you have in-between work and sleep.

Being in parts.

You arrive home after a busy day at work.  After leaving 25 minutes late and driving through butt-to-butt traffic, it’s 6:30.  You’ve already lost an hour and a half and now you’re left with, at best, a good four hours to visit with your family, cook dinner, shower, relax, watch your favorite television show, and maybe even catch up on some reading.

You plow through the next four hours, checking off your list in the process.  But that’s all it is to you—a routine to be checked off.  During this time, you aren’t really there.  You’re checking your email, thinking about other activities you need to work on, and replaying the day’s events in your head.

This is a problem.  If every part of you isn’t ever home in one piece, then you’re never giving yourself the opportunity to be complete.  Instead, you do things and think things in parts.  When your family speaks, you only hear bits and pieces because your mind is torn between two or three or four different paths.  When you cook dinner, you never appreciate the activity for what it is because you’re too focused on completing the task.

Understand how everything interacts.

The trick to capitalizing your time spent at home and outside of work is to be where you are; to focus on what you’re doing and to understand how it enriches your life (which has the power to grow you professionally, as well).

Don’t just cook dinner.  Cook dinner.  Think about how every ingredient compliments the final output.  Feel how a meal affects the mood of your home.  See how your creation brings everyone together.  Appreciate what you’re doing and what it does to your life.

Don’t just listen to your child.  Listen to your child.  Think about every word they say.  Hear their voice fluctuate and see their body language change.  Relive their day as they recap it for you and grab hold of their thoughts as they send them your way.

Be where you are and fully experience what little time you have to be in one moment at one time.  Capitalize on these few precious hours by giving them the attention they deserve.