Quiet Quitting: the practice of doing no more work than one is contractually obliged to do, especially in order to spend more time on personal activities

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In 2022, the viral TikTok trend of “Quiet Quitting” circulated online and was a controversial take on preventing burnout and preserving your work-life balance. 

In this article, we’ll introduce GiANT Worldwide’s 5 Gears system and how implementing this can change your professional and personal life. This free tool provides the self-awareness that individuals and companies can adopt to sustain a healthy work-life environment.

Braindom is powered by GiANT, a leadership apprenticeship company that offers free leadership-related resources and tools (sign up for free, no hidden fees).

Defining Your Work-Life Balance

What does work-life balance mean to you?

Setting boundaries is the best way to establish healthy levels of work and personal life. The tricky part is figuring out what your boundaries are. Everyone’s relationship with work differs, so going 100% everyday may feel balanced for one person, but it may push someone else to burnout.

Because of this variability, self-reflection is vital in understanding your limitations and setting the appropriate boundaries in your life.

The 5 Gears

The 5 Gears system (pictured below) is a visual analogy you can use in your personal and professional space.

If you’ve followed Quiet Quitting anecdotes, you’ll notice the majority of those people were spending too much time in 4th or 5th gear without shifting down towards the other gears. Staying in one gear longer than your body can handle will lead to burnout. 

Once you learn to connect the gears to your behaviors, you can use the 5 Gears to optimize your schedule, your relationships, and the dynamics of those relationships.

GiANT WorldWide's 5 Gears explained
GiANT Worldwide’s 5 Gears

For more clarity, below are: scenarios, a warning sign that you’re spending too much time in that gear, and a tip for each gear (full list of warnings and tips are provided in the free 5 Gears Masterclass video series).

5th Gear – Focus Mode

  • Writing a book 
  • Designing a presentation
  • Brainstorming the strategies for the next quarter

Warning sign: Overwork affects your life physically and relationally.

Tip: Schedule a start and end time.

4th Gear – Task Mode

  • Checking emails right when you wake up
  • Constantly working on emails and messages
  • Fixated on crossing tasks off your to-do lists

Warning sign: You’re physically present but intellectually and emotionally absent.

Tip: Find time to turn your phone off or leave it behind.

3rd Gear – Social Mode

  • Having lunch with a group of colleagues
  • Golf outings with clients
  • Snowboarding trip with friends

Warning sign: People feel like you have a mask and that they can’t get close to you.

Tip: Practice 2nd Gear conversations and learn to go deep.

2nd Gear – Connect Mode 

  • A deep conversation with an old friend 

Warning sign: You put too much pressure on people to connect deeply with you.

Tip: Learn to have 3rd Gear conversations and be okay with it. 

1st Gear – Recharge Mode

  • Introverts: sleep, reading, exercise, meditation, or time by yourself
  • Extroverts: time with people, reading, enlivened experiences, or exercise

Warning sign: Escapism to reality is the norm.

Tip: Put healthy boundaries on your recharge time.

Reverse – Responsive Mode

  • Accepting responsibility and apologizing when you’ve made a mistake 

Warning sign: Using apologies to get what you want.

Tip: Be sincere in your apologies.

You may have an order you naturally gravitate towards from these gears. Take a moment and reflect on your past week. Which gear did you tend to stay in the longest? Which was second? Which gear do you need to spend more time in?

Again, being in the right gear at the right time is important. You don’t want to be staring at your phone sending emails (4th Gear: Task Mode) while you’re at dinner with your family (3rd Gear: Social Mode). This is an indicator of poor work-life balance negatively affecting your familial relationships.

To be present and productive, we need to be in the right gear at the right time as those we interact and engage with.

Right Gear, Right Time

When you are in the right gear, at the right time, that means you are in the optimal mindset for the situation at hand. 

The first step is knowing what gears you need to be in at certain times. The next step is being able to communicate this with your team to promote healthy communication as well as establish your boundaries.

(Bonus) Good Practices

Braindom LLC is a consulting firm, and introducing the 5 Gears is one way we help companies build sustainable and productive lives for their employees. 

Here are a collection of other good practices that Braindom has seen firsthand in companies that commit to enhancing their people-centric workplace environment. 

We have seen these companies:

  • Schedule emails to arrive during the employees’ region business hours. 
  • Encourage exploration of new and innovative ways to deliver the organization’s mission and vision.
  • See mistakes as learning and mentoring opportunities. 
  • Welcome differences in ideas and solutions. 
  • Multiple perspectives are considered before a final decision is made. 
  • Respect employee boundaries.

CHALLENGE: Adopt the 5 Gears system into your life for 30-days and see if you notice any positive changes. If you want to go one level further, share the tool with your family or your team and see if this mitigates any work-life balance issues in your interactions.

WATCH: The 5 Gears Masterclass – for the videos explaining the gears in detail and tips on how to switch gears.

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