Mind Your Own Business

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see an article, program or meme touting the benefits and challenges of achieving a work/life balance.

How to achieve work/life balance is one of the most common questions I get asked when I’m interviewed. And one of the first things I always say is that I’m not a fan of the term. In this day and age, and especially as an entrepreneur, the phrase doesn’t even make sense. Because where does life end and work start? If you love what you do, isn’t it part of what makes your life, life? And for most of us, work is a big part of our life, whether we like it or not.

So what I’ve tried to do (more successfully as I’ve aged matured) is try to become more singularly focused in each given segment of my day. If I’m trying to focus (like, on this blog for example) then I turn off my email, move my phone out of reach, and commit myself to a period of time to do as much as I can. I usually make it through 45 or 60 minutes before I need to take a mental and physical break.

(Side note: I’m writing this to you from L.A., outside, listening to the birds chirping with my furry friend Willow by my side.)

A popular adage from health and wellness professionals when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle is the 80/20 rule. You know: eat well 80 per cent of the time and indulge 20 per cent of the time.

Last week, I attended a “clean” cooking class and the naturopath who was speaking reminded us that although you have room to indulge, we should be mindful of when and how we indulge. Is it really worth it to stuff your face with cherry blasters or cotton candy? (I might argue the answer is yes.) But if I lived by her rule of thumb, I’d say use the 20 per cent on something that’s really worth it, like a homemade dessert or an incredible piece of cheese. Real food.

It got me thinking that the same idea can be applied to our thoughts.

Many of us would admit that some of our best business ideas come to us while we’re away from our desks — and to me, that’s a smart indulgence. What seems like a waste of our limited downtime, is to use it to worry about the little things — making lists, practicing conversations, worrying about things that probably won’t even happen — when we are supposed to be taking a break.

Recently I’ve become more mindful of this and put up a mental stop sign every time I feel my mind drifting into the worry zone when it’s supposed to be in chill mode. Whether it’s when I’m walking the dog early in the morning, out for dinner with my friends, or in shavasana (ESPECIALLY in shavasana), I literally picture myself sweeping the thoughts to the side, and promise myself I can get back to it later.

Does it work? About 80 per cent of the time. But that’s more than a passing grade in my book.