Do you ever feel like your work is overwhelming the joy from the rest of your life?

Whether you’re working from home or back in the office, the boundary between getting the job done and having a personal life has become more blurred than ever. No wonder so many of us are feeling tired, stressed and overwhelmed.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Both your work and the rest of your life can be joyful again.

In my interview with award-winning life coach Simon Alexander Ong, we talked about how to make this happen. Specifically, what to do when work bleeds into your life and even dominates it.

Go beyond setting boundaries

While setting boundaries plays a part in protecting yourself from the demands of work, Simon shared that there’s something even more important because it sets the foundation for a healthy career and life.

In Simon’s view, the key is to understand what your own system of working is. That is, how do you decide what deserves your attention and what counts as a priority? How do you choose what to focus your time and energy on? And what’s the best time of day or week to do the things you need to do?

The reason why it's important to think about your system is this: many of us don't even have a system. We just react to what’s placed in front of us.

So when emails and notifications come in, you have no way to handle the overload of information. No wonder we feel overwhelmed and like there’s not enough time in the day!

Start by establishing your system

Using the email example, here’s a practical system Simon recommended to a client in the hospitality industry, let’s call him Dom. Think about how this could work for you too.

Dom needed particular days to focus on creation, like coming up with a new cocktail idea or a new plate idea for a menu, for example. For you, it might be carving out time to think strategically.

So what Dom did is to set an email auto-response that says:

“I check my email twice a day at 10:30 AM and at 7:30 PM. If you need to reach me between those times and it’s urgent, please call me on this number.”

Straight away when his colleagues get that auto-response, they know not to expect a reply until those particular times of the day.

And Dom discovered it’s very rare that he actually gets a call on that number. He realized that most of the demands, requests and messages aren’t truly urgent.

This strategy puts the onus on the person who’s sending Dom the message or email to decide if it's urgent or not. Otherwise, they know Dom will get back to them at those two times of the day when he sits down and looks through his emails.

So yes, set boundaries but more importantly, take time to understand your system of working to help you focus on what matters most.

Then communicate your system so others know how to get the best from you

By communicating how you operate to those you work with, you’re automatically setting boundaries and expectations. And when everyone is clear on how you operate, they’ll know how to interact with you to get great results. It’s a win-win.

But it all starts with identifying and understanding what your system is. And if you don’t have one yet, you’ve got a clean slate to devise a system that’s ideal for you.

Make the most of every moment

This is just one of the gems from my interview with Simon. He also talked about the following topics to help you bring out the best in yourself personally and professionally:

  • What his book Energize is about, who it’s for, and why this so important for us today
  • Where to start when you’re feeling exhausted or have lost your spark
  • How to protect your energy when you’re overwhelmed with so many demands
  • How you can create an unstoppable mindset
  • What it means to “supercharge your impact”? How super busy people can lead a fulfilled life and achieve what they never thought they could

And he shared great answers to these questions:

  • “I have two young kids but I always feel too exhausted after a whole day’s work to play with them, which makes me feel guilty all the time. What can I change?”
  • “Often the idea of delegating is put forward to manage overload. My team is new and I’m investing to coach them through so I’m under the crunch. Any tips in the interim until the training payoff?”
  • “Do you believe ‘my energy is always my choice’?”
  • “How can we internalize these great insights such that we can act on them on a consistent, sustainable basis?”

Get Simon’s book to learn more about managing your energy
Energize: Make the Most of Every Moment