“Balance isn’t something you find, it’s something you create.”
—Jana Kingsford, Author
It seems hard to believe, as I’m writing these words, that 2 things are true. First, we have been in a raging worldwide pandemic for a year, and second, I am no more equipped to handle the load of my life than I was a year ago.
The laundry is stacked up in the kitchen, the kids are asking for their 15th snack of the morning, (I wish I was exaggerating - you should see our grocery bill), and my Slack notifications have been going off at about 1 per 10 second interval. To say my life is full would be an understatement. Sometimes it feels so full that I could burst.
Let me backup and introduce myself, I am the newest member to the AMPLL team, a mother to 3 little girls (7 and under), and a wife to an extremely busy, often goofy, and hilarious Director of Finance for a tech start-up in Silicon Valley. Our family recently made a move to the coast (hello balance, are you there?) and is undertaking a major renovation of our “forever home.”
Things that are lost on me currently are concepts like - “Free time, what’s that?” ”Self-Care, you mean the grocery trip by myself?” “Balance, like in a checkbook?” All kidding aside, my story really isn’t any different from so many working mom’s, dad’s, and busy professionals out there. We are all, in our own way, seeking balance, in a very unbalanced world.
“If there is a book you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
Ampll was started on one very simple premise - to create what we could use ourselves. It’s often been said that authors should write the book that they themselves need to read. We took that concept to heart. We begin with what we know, that balance is difficult to achieve for all of us. All of our team members are very different individuals, with different work preferences, styles and home lives. Our commitments vary widely and yet within all of the differences, lies one core truth. The need for balance is something that humans crave, and we, the Ampll team, are determined to help you create it! Although, in full disclosure, we can’t help with folding laundry!
The need for balance in the busy lives of men, women, and parents alike has never been more clear. I, for one, can’t help but wonder, what does our future hold? How will we balance the ever mounting commitments that we take on? And how do we bring depth, calm, and intention to the chaotic and highly demanding world we find ourselves in? Upon months of reflection, endless google searches for things like: creating balance, what is balance?, work-life balance, how to stop your kids from climbing the walls during a pandemic, (you get my drift)… I discovered that for me, balancing the demands in my life requires me to do 3 things weekly.
“Awareness is the biggest agent for change.”
At any given moment, we have many different activities and interactions competing for our time and attention. In my life, it ranges from 1st grade math homework assistance to facilitating a values proposition meeting for our leadership team. The nature of the day, these days, is that one task and activity bleeds into another. If we aren’t mindful of where we are spending our time, it is very easy to put your head on the pillow at night and ask, exactly what did I accomplish today?
At AMPLL we have identified 4 different categories of activities where modern work professionals spend their time. Meetings & appointments, conversations and email, individual focus time , and personal well-being activities. In our approach, we combine our users' work preferences and priorities with evidence based data to design a schedule that is well balanced and energizing. With an ability to categorize gains and drains and incorporating evidence based data to help educate our users, we provide unique insights and coaching on how and where we can improve work life integration points. I always find it helpful to have concrete examples to reference when I am learning more about a product or tool. Let’s take our first category, meetings, love them or hate them, they consume time during our work week.
“It was the best, I got to communicate all of my ideas over slack, and we didn’t even have to meet!”
Viewpoints about meetings vary far and wide and depending on your own personal feelings about meetings, this quote will either resonate, or not. For me personally, I prioritize and frankly need to schedule time to collaborate into my schedule or it simply does not happen. Balancing 4 very distinct needs at home and balancing 5 different working styles at work may seem like a lot, so what helps?
At AMPLL, we OVERLY communicate our personal needs and work preferences. I know well that my CEO prefers a dynamic slack conversation over a meeting ANY day of the week, and I know that our backend engineer feels the most productive in the afternoon and evening hours. When we get intentional, first with ourselves, and set an ideal balance that we wish to strike into our daily schedule, we are better equipped to meet the needs of our coworkers,
Think about when you take a flight (oh my! When’s the last time I saw the inside of an airport?), one of the first things you hear is “Put your air mask on before assisting others.” The application of this well known phrase is applied in this context accordingly, in order to be the best professional and coworker it is really important to make sure that WE are feeling in balance and energized. By reflecting and focusing our attention on what that ideal balance is and what trade-offs we need to make to achieve balanced work and life environments, we are ⅔ of the way there! Finally...
So how do we balance when we do our best work, and HOW we like to work with those of our team? It’s simple. We share. Our product not only gives visibility into a user’s energy level with a cool battery icon that displays current energy state, but it also allows visibility into balance levels, take our earlier example, are you spending more time in meetings than is ideal for you?
Our team has gone to great lengths to put into practice what we have learned from the research. We’ve uncovered and shared both the HOW and WHEN the individuals on our team works best and have gotten super intentional about balancing the sets of needs at home and at work. As a result, our team has become more energized, cohesive, and empathetic. We look forward to sharing more about what we have learned with you!
How do you create balance in your life? We would love to hear from you!