THE BLOG
10/22/2014 06:12 pm ET Updated Dec 22, 2014

Accent on the Wrong Syllable

Yagi Studio via Getty Images

As my contribution to National Work and Family Month, I'd like to suggest that we are accenting the wrong syllaaaable.

We have talked for years about how to balance work and personal life or how to integrate work and life, but I propose we think a little bit more about what we are balancing and integrating.

Instead of accenting "balance" or "integrate", let's think a bit about accenting life.

Do we really have as full a life as possible? Or are we just hustling and bustling around doing our jobs and taking care of our families... somewhat mindlessly? Oh, I don't mean we don't concentrate on our work and produce as excellent a product as we can. And I don't mean we don't give our all to our families. I know most of us even enjoy our lives, hectic as they may be. What I do mean is that we are not squeezing everything we can out of life when we just "go" and "do" and check off our lists.

How can we put the accent on "life"? At The Did Ya Notice? Project, we help people open their eyes to the amazing things right around them. We don't ask people to change their routines; we ask them to use their routines to notice and enrich their lives.

When you zip your kid's jacket (or your own), have you ever noticed that zipper? What a beautiful invention that is. Simple, satisfying, does the job just great! Thank a zipper today! I define noticing as "mindfulness with a smile". If you start your day smiling about a zipper, only good things can come from that.

If you notice all the "zippers" at home and in the workplace, you will be a hero. What simple, efficient things can you notice that are often taken for granted? Can you replicate them in other ways and simplify processes? In the workplace, meeting minutes and templates are examples of "zippers". Where else could you institute templates to simplify things? At home, "zippers" can be routines that are taken for granted but used every day. Do you all come home, change your clothes and wash your hands? That's a "zipper." Can you make "zippers" out of some troublesome procedures? How about the hassle of getting everyone out of the house in the morning with everything needed for work and school? Make it a "zipper"!

Have you ever noticed broccoli? Broccoli is made up of repeating patterns. There are repeating patterns throughout nature. Peacock plumes, tree branches, pineapple skin, snowflakes. Find patterns in nature with your family. And what is your workplace " broccoli"? There are patterns in the workplace in the way projects are carried out, in the way meetings are held, in the way the kitchen never gets cleaned! Should the workplace "broccoli" be replicated or disrupted? Notice the broccoli in the workplace, at home, and in nature!

There is no end to the everyday things you can notice while you go about your hustle/bustle life. When you do notice, your life will be much richer and you will be really living!

My book, The Noticer's Guide to Living and Laughing, subtitled Change Your Life Without Changing Your Routine will be available on November 1. It will help you put the accent on "life" when you are striving for work-life balance.