How to Achieve a Better Work-Life BalanceJuggling the demands of a career and a personal life often seems impossible. As business leaders, there are many times we stay late, get to the office early to try and get ahead, or work on weekends. You may even feel guilty if you don’t work 24/7.

In this Entrepreneur article, contributor Victor Cheng asked a great question. “Short of simply working fewer hours and running the risk of tanking your business, how do entrepreneurs achieve a better work-life balance while increasing their bottom-line?”

His answer: Focus.

He refers to the late Steve Jobs, who said focus isn’t deciding what to do, it’s deciding what not to do.

But people tend to have a hard time narrowing their focus. “That's because it's often unclear how to focus at a practical level,” Cheng says.

He shares some steps to help you focus on what is most critical in your business, so you earn more but work less.

Tips to Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance

Monetize Your To-Do List

Look at everything on your list and determine what the financial value is of each task. Then, write the dollar amount next to the items. For example, if you need to finish a new business proposal and the contract is worth $200,000 then write “Finish Proposal ($200,000).”

Sort in Descending Order

Once you have monetized all of your tasks, sort them with the highest dollar amount at the top and the lowest at the bottom.

Work through Your List

Cheng suggests you spend four days a week on the top 50 percent of your list. Work on the number one item on the list until it is finished completely, then move on to the next. “If you find that you can't finish this item until someone else does something first, move on to the next item on your list,” says Cheng.

He also suggests spending one day a week on the bottom 50 percent. “By forcing yourself to work on the less important (but seemingly urgent) tasks only one day a week, you won't be able to complete them all,” he says. You might see some tasks on your list for weeks, and that’s alright. “It’s a deliberate byproduct of this approach,” he adds.

Reevaluate Your List Weekly

Are any of the tasks obsolete? If so, remove them. This is tough for some people, but if they stay on your list week after week, you’ll realize they aren’t as important as you thought. “The key to focus is to ignore trivial tasks while doubling the time spent on the things that make a big difference,” says Cheng.

Overworking yourself can, and will, start to take its toll. It’s important to focus on getting the most important things done first, but it’s only possible once we remove the clutter and distraction. If you are having a hard time deciding what to do, take Jobs’ advice: Decide what doesn’t need to be done.

What practical suggestions do you have for finding a better balance between work and the rest of your life?

Employee Engagement: Tips From a Global BusinessPhilips, a multinational business and one of the largest electronics companies in the world, employs over 122,000 people in more than 60 countries. Philips was named by Forbes one of the top 25 companies for work-life balance.

In an interview for SmartBrief, Dana Stocks, chief human resources officer, talked about employee recruitment and engagement. His comments apply equally to businesses large and small.

Five Tips on Employee Engagement From A Global Business

Encourage Employees to be Passionate About Their Work

Philips encourages passion in the workplace by ensuring passionate individuals grow within the company. When a position becomes open, “we look internally first, encouraging employees to apply for new roles reflecting their current passions, interests and skill sets.”

Philips also respects its employees’ need for a healthy work-life balance. “If our employees are happy and engaged outside of the office, that passion will manifest itself in their work.”

Measure Employee Engagement

Philips measures engagement through the use of a biannual employee engagement survey. Employees are asked to provide feedback on what the company is doing right “and where we are going wrong.” After that, Stocks says, “we ‘deep dive’ into data in order to initiate dialogues and target action plans to drive retention.” The process doesn’t rely solely on “feelings,” but also addresses actions of engagement.

Embrace Flexible Work Arrangements

“In areas where set schedules of roles aren’t critical, Philips embraces flexibility,” Stocks says. An example is the introduction of a concept “where work stations are unassigned, and there are more employees than desks in a given ‘neighborhood.’” This approach boosts collaboration and supports employees wishing to work from home up to three days per week.

Implement a Comprehensive Performance Evaluation Process

Philips conducts “performance and development dialogues” as a year-round priority. The process includes two formal annual milestones: a midyear development check-in and an end-of-the-year performance review. Both milestones focus on manager-to-employee dialogues “and all conclusions from these meetings are registered online.”

Passion: A Key Element Sought in Hiring

“While technical competencies are always table stakes for a strong hire and top-performing companies,” Stocks notes, “we believe our passion for improving lives … is what sets us apart.” Stocks and his HR colleagues seek a similar passion in new hires—“whether it is entirely work-related or something they are fanatical about outside of work that bleeds into their energy and productivity on the job.”

Passion can’t be taught, Stocks says, “but it is the ingredient that keeps all our people giving their best every day.”

How do you encourage passion both among new hires and veteran employees?

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