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How are you doing with that whole work-life balance thing? If you’re like me, this question just adds to my stress level.

We all know that when things get out of balance, it can hurt our relationships, our health and our overall happiness. But here we are, putting in crazy hours, working long weekends, doing conference calls from Uber cars; it’s not easy, is it? And the irony is, many of us add to our guilt/stress load by worrying about not getting the balance right.

Design Thinking Work Life Balance

But here’s a note of hope. Just as we are applying design-thinking habits to improve our work for clients, we can apply the same approach to our personal lives. I was chatting with one of our top sales leaders the other day, and he mentioned that he was designing his vacation time. Instead of squandering his PTO by letting it just happen, he was learning from past experience. He was intentionally thinking about the opportunity his time off represented, involving his family in the planning process, and gearing up to execute within his budget.

This made my day. We all know that planning a trip is half the fun. And by collaborating with his family, he extended the experience for everyone. Just as importantly, he gave work colleagues time to plan for his absence, and he designed the experience to accommodate work requirements. How? He set time with both his family and his work team to check in. He stuck to the times that he set.  He managed everyone’s expectations – work and family – so that his family didn’t feel cheated and his clients and work team weren’t abandoned.  Everyone had clear expectations up front, because he designed it that way.

It’s so simple and so smart.

Almost every day, I find that basic life lessons inform my work, my business relationships and how I approach my long term-goals. But it’s still a nice surprise when a process learned in the office can make life better for friends, family and loved ones.

So ask yourself: “When I think about taking the time off I’ve worked so hard to earn, what does beautiful look like? Who do I want on my vacation team?” Invite them to collaborate. Start designing your next vacation today.