Put First Things First
I have to admit it has been so long since I last read the book I have completely forgotten to practice these habits. Plus, my life has changed so much in between readings that each of the habits means something different to me now.
For example, following the birth of my third child, I am forced to take a closer look at Habit 3: Put First Things First.
I don’t “do” New Year’s Resolutions, but if I did….. I would seek to improve this.
Competing “first things”. Business or Family?
There are as many women as men in the workplace now. More women return to work after having children and co-parenting has become the norm. For most households, a double income is a necessity in order to keep up with the rising cost of living. As a result, it is harder than ever to put first things first, when both family and work demand so much time and attention. These competing “first things” can cause strain on relationships, in and out of work. It’s exhausting for the modern family.
Then I read this article by Matt Palmquist published in Business-Strategy. At first it reminded me of my own 3 Ways Cloud Computing Can Save Your Marriage blog. While my blog was written irreverently, Matt’s article explains, very matter of fact, that flexible working can save your marriage and improve your productivity (backed up by scientific study).
I was delighted to find an article which focused on the benefits of flexible working to a business as well as to the employee. We all know that happy employees make for better employees, but Matt’s focus on a study “Flexible Work Boundaries: The Spillover and Crossover of Workplace Support” really gets to the heart of the matter. Traditionally flexible working is considered a “perk” … something enjoyed by lucky employees who have forward thinking employers. Benefits to employers tend to be spelled out in terms of lack of down time and improved connectivity. It has to be viewed differently now. Times are changing. Flexibility at work has become absolutely essential for both parties.
Work. Life. Balance.
In a time when work and life have become inseparable, we need to reassess what work life balance means.
Higher levels of workplace support need to be offered to employees so that they can start to put first things first. For example, attending a child’s nativity play for two hours through the day will not jeopardise a business – especially when the employee can log on to their business remotely after office hours to catch up on anything essential. Being on time for dinner with the family should be just as important as being on time for your business meeting (for both employee and employer).
This study points out that when companies value what employees value, it creates a win-win situation. When family functions well, business functions well. The lines between work and home life need to be blurred a bit. Sometimes it will fall in favour of employee and sometimes employer. But as long as the balance is not always in favour of one or the other then everyone can expect happy and prosperous relationships all round.
Win-win – the 4th of Covey’s 7 habits.
Putting first things first creates a win-win for everyone.
Written By Emma Stewart – Mother of 3, Wife and Sales & Marketing Director at Cofficient
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