The Key to Work-Life Success: Intentional Choices

“When we consciously think about our actions and how we spend our time, we tend to be more consistent with our priorities. When we are on auto-pilot, we drift from our priorities and towards whatever happens to be most urgent at the moment “

Sometimes I allow 24/7 connectivity to work get in the way of family time
Sometimes I allow 24/7 connectivity to work get in the way of family time

A few months ago, a financial planner gave a guest lecture to students at my university about the importance of smart financial management right out of college. He talked about his own spending habits when he got his first job. As he drove to work for his first day, he stopped along the way for a Starbucks – after all, he had money now, and he deserved a treat. Later that day, his new colleagues took him out to lunch at a local café. What started as one-off decisions quickly became habits.

Eventually, on his way to work, his brain went on autopilot and so he stopped at Starbucks each morning. He never got into the habit of packing a lunch, so most days he went back to the café with a few coworkers, or even by himself.

Eventually, it dawned on him that his paycheck didn’t go as far as he’d thought- because he was spending $15 a day due to his unconscious spending habits (quick math: $15/day x 5 days/week x 50 weeks/year = $3,750). This was more two months’ rent!

He then stated that the way to get out of poor spending habits is turning our unthinking habits back into conscious, intentional choices. Not only did I think this was great advice, I saw the applicability to work-family balance.

I came away from his talk thinking- “When we consciously think about our actions and how we spend our time, we tend to be more consistent with our priorities. When we are on auto-pilot, we drift from our priorities towards whatever happens to be most urgent at the moment.”

So, my challenge to all my fellow working dads- and myself- is to make more intentional choices on how we spend out time. If we think about our use of time, I bet we’d be more efficient at work and more present while home.

For me, this means:

  • If I go to a website to look something up, I will only go to that website and not let one link lead to another, to another, to another
  • If I go to facebook, it will only be for quick 15 minute check-ins, and not become 2 hours of political arguments
  • If I watch TV, I’ll watch an episode of one of “my shows” on my DVR or Netflix, and not just flip around channels mindlessly
  • I will only check emails from my smartphone no more than twice a day
  • When I’m at work, I’ll get right to work, instead of reading the news online for 20 minutes

What would more conscious decisions about your time mean for you? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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7 thoughts on “The Key to Work-Life Success: Intentional Choices

  1. My busy mind is always thinking, now more so. This is a great post and I’d be happy to re-blog it for you. I do so only with permission however; it’s a respect thing for me, so I will await your response when you have time. Have a beautiful and inspired day. Belinda

  2. Yep! INTENTIONAL. That’s my word for 2015. I activate every morning and night, before bed, against my vision board, which has only 3 things on it.

    1. Be a great dad to my twins, and a super husband to my wife;
    2. Be the creative spiritual being I am; and
    3. The sale of WeMontage for $50 million.

    Intentional.

  3. Love this! I am trying to become more intentional in everything I do. My Less is More project is helping me reevaluate what really matters. I have always been self-employed, which is wonderful, and I don’t think it will ever change. In the past years I have accomplished things (at work and outside work) that I didn’t think I could… simply by making the right choices day after day.

  4. I think that these are great tips. As it happens, one of my new year’s resolutions this year was to bring my own lunch to work. Part of this is because I’m not a great fan of pre-packaged sandwiches and partly this is because it should save me quite a bit of money over the year. £10 a week savings over a year could make a nice contribution towards a family holiday, which is something that I value a lot.

    What you say about work and productivity is spot on as well – I’ve recently started to limit the amount of time I spend responding to e-mails in one go as I reckon it can stifle my productivity. Sometimes I sent a countdown on my phone to make sure I stick to this.

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