Exploring the importance of work/life balance...
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Hello, <<Name>>! If you missed last week's edition - which included: 4 timeless business lessons from Obvious Adams, the best fiction book I've read this year, advice on how to think, and why you should be stingy with your time - you can catch up here.
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Do You Have Work/Life Balance?

What does that even mean these days?

I wrote earlier this year about the reasons we're all so damn busy.

Afterwards, countless people reached out to share with me. These are some of the notes:

     "Before smart phones, our parents went home and ate dinner together and played with us (the kids). Now, the expectations is that we're always on call, always answering e-mail. It's exhausting."  

     "E-mail, status meetings, more e-mail, a meeting about another meeting, more e-mail. It's insanity. I realize this this is reality of the modern day work place, but I don't think humans were made to sit in cubicles and stare at a screen all day." (HINT: They're not. Here's my buddy Charlie Hoehn on the importance of play.)

     "At what point does my experience take precedence over a young, single person willing to work longer hours for less money? Between the commute and the long hours I get home and race through feeding kids, bathing kids, and putting kids to bed so I can get an hour of alone time with husband before I have to do it all over again. I'm terrified of waking up next to a stranger 10 years from now."

With quotes like this, is anyone surprised that people (especially young people who watched their parents suffer this form of indentured servitude) are starting to push back on working more to buy things they don't need?

And here's a couple of companies rejecting the status quo of busy as a badge of honor: In David Whyte's new 2009 book, "The Three Marriages: Reimaging Work, Self and Relationship" he concludes:

     "We should stop thinking in terms of work-life balance. Work-life balance is a concept that has us simply lashing ourselves on the back and working too hard in each of the three commitments. In the ensuing exhaustion we ultimately give up on one or more of them to gain and easier life."

Finally, I'll leave you with the following to chew on from Maria Popova, one of the smartest people I know:

     "The equilibrium between productivity and presence is one of the hardest things to master in life. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshiping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living — for, as Annie Dillard memorably put it, â€œhow we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

What I'm Reading

A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted  - I complain entirely too much. So do you. Our thoughts create our lives. Our words indicate what we're thinking. I hope that re-reading this book will help me consciously re-frame negative thoughts and situations, be more positive and ultimately, as a result, be more pleasant to be around.

Good Reads

On Work/Life Balance:

+ There's Nothing More Toxic to Productivity Than a Meeting -  Instead of resorting to a meeting, try to simplify the concept so you can discuss it quickly via email or instant messenger. The goal is to avoid meetings. Every minute you avoid spending in a meeting is a minute you can get real work done instead.

Speaking of e-mail...

Checking E-mail Less Frequently Results in a Significant Reduction in Stress - Checking email less often may reduce stress in part by cutting down on the need to switch between tasks. An unfortunate limitation of the human mind is that it cannot perform two demanding tasks simultaneously, so flipping back and forth between two different tasks saps cognitive resources. As a result, people can become less efficient in each of the tasks they need to accomplish.
    "Shallow work stops you from getting fired — but deep work is what gets you promoted. Deep work must get priority." -- Cal Newport, Computer Science Professor at Georgetown, Author of Four Books, Father of 2 Young Kids, Gets WAY more done than you do

+ 95% of Americans Risk Eye Problems By Staring at Screens All Day - If your eyes are feeling dry, irritated, tired, and out of focus right now, you aren't alone.These symptoms, along with head, neck, and back pain, afflict people who suffer from a malaise unique to our modern era, "digital eye strain," which nearly 95% of Americans are at risk for and more than 60% experience.

Working From Home Increases Productivity, Job Satisfaction - Over the course of the trial period, Ctrips found that the home workers productivity increased by 13 percent. Those who worked from home took fewer breaks and sick days compared to their office-bound counterparts. Staff turn-over fell amongst the home group by almost 50 percent, compared to those who were office-bound.

+ Proof You Don't Have to Sacrifice Sleep to Succeed - sacrificing sleep could be hurting more than just the executives in need of a good night’s rest. When people don’t sleep, they don’t function at their highest levels, research shows. In a work context, that means missing opportunities to make money. American companies are losing $63.2 billion a year due to sleep deprivation, according to a 2013 study from Harvard Medical School.

More Good Stuff:

Network Intelligence: Your Company Can’t Thrive Without It
 - The most valuable professional information is often in other people's heads and there are more smart people outside your company than inside it. You must empower your employees to network with those smart people on company time and the company dime.

I’m Autistic, And Believe Me, It’s A Lot Better Than Measles
- I take the decision not to vaccinate personally. I’ve tried to have empathy for the other side, I’ve tried to tell myself that it’s none of my business, but I can’t and it is. Someone who refuses to vaccinate their children because they’re afraid of autism has made the decision that people like me are the worst possible thing that can happen to their family, and they’re putting everyone at risk because of it.

The top 10 lessons I learned from A Year of Productivity - Over the last 12 months Chris conducted countless productivity experiments on himself, interviewed some of the most productive people in the world, and read a ton of books and academic literature on productivity. One year, 197 articles, and over one million hits later, he reached the end of his year-long journey. The link above are the 10 biggest productivity lessons Chris learned over the course of his project.

New Posts:

The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills That Win Business

You can have the best idea, the most innovative product, or the most beautiful work, but it’s rarely going to sell itself.

The link above will take you to 50 of my favorite takeaways from the book. Think of them as your Cliff Notes.


"We all walk this early feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn't end soon." - David Carr (RIP)

"Companies often over think, over do, and over devote to planning. Next time call a plan a guess and just get to work." - @jasonfried

"Flawless execution of a shitty idea is still a huge waste of time." - @chamath

"Writing is similar to trying to seduce a woman. A lot has to do with practice, but mostly it’s innate. Anyway, good luck." -- Haruki Murakami

"I let life be the storyteller. I’m just here to write down what happens." - @heyamberrae


Please help spread the word about this newsletter by sharing it with one friend, or even better, sharing it on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

And don't forget to hit "reply" and let me know how I can help you in 2015.

Thanks for reading,
Ryan Stephens
Copyright © 2015 Ryan Stephens Marketing, All rights reserved.

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