Getting a workable balance between work and your personal life is critical for your long-term health, happiness and effectiveness. What that balance looks like will vary for everyone but it is important for you to recognise when the scales are tipping in one direction or another. Technology and being constantly contactable add to the challenge of separating work and personal time. Add to that demanding bosses, stressed clients, work emergencies and working across time zones, gaining a balance can seem impossible!
However severe the challenges in attaining balance, the importance in doing so is large. Without taking time for yourself you will experience stress, burn out, low motivation and resentment. The first step in attaining work-life balance is to accept that this is your problem to solve! Your manager, customers or partner cannot take steps to solve this problem for you.
What does balance mean?
Balance does not mean equal time - we spend a lot of hours in the office! Balance means what is acceptable to you to have the quality of life that you want. Balance means having enough energy to give attention to yourself and your family. Balance means that the quality of the investment of our time gives us a sense of peace, satisfaction and accomplishment.
How to regain control of your life
- Setting boundaries and expectations of what is acceptable to you and what isn't is critical for gaining the type of work-life balance that you desire. You need to teach people how to treat you. If you always answer your phone on a Saturday, the client will continue to call you on a Saturday. If they know you won't answer on the weekend they will make sure they clarify everything before the end of the week or wait until the new week to call you. Boundary and expectation setting applies to every area of your work-life balance. Decide what is acceptable to you, act in that way, and others will adapt to the boundaries you have set.
- What are the non-negotiables in your life? What are the things you absolutely need to do to stay sane? Figure out these things and build them into your schedule with no compromises. It might be dropping off or picking up your child from school, or being home by 6.30 every night for family dinner, or maybe it's going to the gym each morning. Work out what small rituals help you to be happier, relaxed and more productive. Figuring out what these things are and making time for them every day will help prevent stress and burn-out.
- Ask and you shall receive. So many organisations are becoming more open to flexible working hours and working from outside the office. Often we find that people are at their most productive when they are working from coffee shops or at home where they are free from office distractions! Speak to your boss about crafting a work day that suits your life and allows you to get more done. Maybe it is avoiding the afternoon commute and working a couple of hours from home, coming in earlier and leaving early or working flexi-time. There is often a win-win-win ( for you, your boss and your family) solution that can be found. One thing is for sure, if you don;t ask you don't get!