Managing Your Life – How to Keep Business in Balance

The increasing pressures of our work-a-day life make it harder for managers to maintain healthy balance in their professional and personal worlds, says business coach, Jasbindar Singh. “Balance” is key word in the vocabulary of this Auckland-based business consultant and psychologist. Singh works to “unleash clients’ potential to drive their businesses profitability by improving performances and productivity… and balance is an essential part of that success”.
The dainty Indian-born dynamo came to New Zealand as teenager. passion for business had her thinking about studying business before starting psychology degree at Auckland University. She graduated with Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology 19 years ago and became well known for her work with eating disorders and co-authored book, Nobody is Perfect.
After nine years working in the clinical field, Singh set herself up in business in the early 1990s. “I have been helping people achieve their personal and professional goals nearly all of my working life. I felt I had gone as far as I could in the clinical area. I found business much more exciting, dynamic and with lots of challenges,” she explains. Now she successfully melds the two disciplines. “I use blend of psychological principles with my own experience of business management and the corporate environment.”
And how does she help busy executive introduce balance into lifestyle that has been swamped by work? “There is very fine line between feeling balanced and overloaded,” says Singh. But some executives, who work with chronic overload, do not have the ability to switch-off and relax when they need to.
As clinical psychologist, Singh dealt with business executives who were stressed and burnt out. In some cases the early signs such as anxiety, poor concentration and lack of sleep had been ignored until symptoms developed into major illnesses including depression. And the consequences of these illnesses had major and life-changing effects as work, relationships and family are inevitably drawn into the circle of suffering.
Singh knows from her work as business psychologist that early intervention can halt the downward spiral. “You must know your own limits… understand your own physiology and act rather than react,” says Singh. “For example, if you have been involved in demanding work project, then make time for yourself after the deadline has been reached. You need time to restore your mind, body and soul.
“My clients say ‘there must be more to life than just work’. They want to look deeper into the overall meaning of their personal life as well as their careers.” Some discuss spirituality with Singh but it doesn’t faze her. Her company is called SQ, which stands for spiritual intelligence.
“Spirituality to me represents real link to values people use in their personal and working worlds. Spirituality is also about ethics, integrity, authenticity and wholeness,” she explains.
Singh has worked with cross-section of companies. Everything from major banks, through to businesses in the energy sector, the media and government departments. She also coaches small businesses and individuals.
Her approach to each client is individually tailored – depending on his or her needs. For some the message is relayed simply and working patterns are changed accordingly. Others need more supportive and constructive handling. “This too is about balance – it is balancing act which requires working through the defences, while at the same time not shattering the person.”
A tough economic climate that leads to staff reductions in many organisations has employers appreciating how much they value and need to nurture knowledge-based workers, according to Singh. Downsizing invariably means employees are over-burdened with work. “This leads to increased stress-related absenteeism, more down time on the job, concerns about work safety and health and poor decision making.” Another byproduct is the trend for New Zealanders to leave the regular workforce to follow the self-employment path – giving them more flexibility in family and leisure time.
“Business people are now learning the importance of maximising balanced behaviour. In the past we believed if we were well we were free of disease. We must recognise the value of aiming for overall ‘wellness’. Self-awareness is the first and most important step and must be followed up with constant vigilance and monitoring,” says Singh.
Singh’s business has grown on trend toward more business coaching in the marketplace. She is established in Auckland as an authority on cross-cultural issues, but coaching is the heart of Singh’s business. “Coaching is healthy offshoot of cross between management consulting and psychotherapy. In the business arena, parallels are drawn between coaches and personal trainers hired by athletes to improve performance. Coaches can cover both ends of the spectrum – improving as well as enhancing performance.”
And does Singh herself lead balanced personal and professional life? “I have had to deal with fair number of challenges in my own life and I like to think I continue to grow in wisdom! The spiritual dimension of my life is also important to me so I meditate for relaxation. In my leisure time, I work out at the gym and dabble in oil painting. I also have colleagues and mentors that I discuss things with on regular basis – this is an important part of the loop for my own balance.”

Personal Balance Tips:
• Know yourself. Gauge your energy levels (when are your peak and trough times?) and schedule accordingly.
• Take power naps – great means of recharging.
• Listen to your body and heart as well as your head.
• Throw fun and meaning into what you do.
• Commune with nature. Enjoy brisk walk in the fresh air or take time to smell the roses. Nature is great healer, restorer and pulls your personal perspective together.
• Learn and use relaxation technique such as meditation. This improves concentration, boosts mental clarity and decision making.
• Enlist the help of buddy/coach as part of your support and wellness plan.
• Remember healthy, stress-free you also means much more resourceful, calmer and productive you.
• Ask yourself – what is one small thing I can do today to contribute towards my physical and emotional well-being?

Business Balance Tips:
• Delegate – team members are often keen to progress to “meatier” projects. As leader, encourage development and create these opportunities for team members.
• Differentiate between what you can control and what you cannot. Do something about what you can control – let go of the other.
• Plan and schedule in your diary time for yourself and your ‘balancing activities’. Consider these as appointments with yourself.
• Do reality check on your expectations. Do your projects have adequate resources, are deadlines realistic and your priorities correct?
• Review and critique your current commitments in line with your priorities. Do you have to be involved with special projects at work, while serving on the school board of trustees and coaching junior soccer?
• Make commitment. Remember you are only as strong as the weakest link in your chain. It requires conscious awareness and effort, but it is lot easier to implement balancing strategies than to deal with the aftermath of burnout.

Robyn Yousef is an Auckland-based writer. [email protected]

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