Many people talk about maintaining a work-life balance, but few take the steps necessary to achieve it. Creating such a balance is possible, but it requires careful planning and commitment. Here are five tips for achieving a satisfactory balance between your work and the rest of your life.
- Make deliberate choices. Many people fall into a certain life pattern without realising what they’re doing. It’s important to make conscious choices about how you spend your time and where you expend your energy. These choices should take into account both your values and the realities of your situation, such as the requirements of your job and the demands of your home life.
- Schedule time for family and personal interests. Often people make a schedule that only includes work commitments. The assumption is that whatever free time is left over will be sufficient to accommodate everything else in your life. This is not a good approach. Just as you note company meetings and training sessions on your schedule, you should also include teacher-parent interviews and yoga classes.
- Disconnect from communications technology. In this era, many people are able to connect to their job when they’re away from the office. It’s convenient to be able to check an important email from someone in another time zone while you’re sitting at home in the evening. But this connectedness can also be a chain that prevents you from ever getting away from work responsibilities. If you find yourself frequently checking your work e-mail account when you’re playing with your kids in the evening or relaxing with friends on the weekend, it’s a good idea to schedule time periods when you disconnect completely from such technology.
- Set boundaries. If work responsibilities often bleed over into family or personal time, it’s necessary to set boundaries. This may include informing your manager and other colleagues about your availability. For example, you may need to say that you’re not willing to come into the office on weekends, or that you can’t work overtime, or that you can’t travel out of town more than a certain number of days each year.
- Accept your limitations. Ultimately, you have to confront the fact that you cannot be everything to everybody. It’s probably not possible to be the perfect CEO and the perfect parent. Either one role or the other is shortchanged. Accepting your limitations is the first step toward determining an appropriate work-life balance. This accommodation involves tough choices, but it results in a balance that is sustainable.
Work-life balance is not a mirage, but it does require careful planning and difficult choices. Because your time and energy are not unlimited, it’s necessary to set priorities and then make decisions based on your values. Be assured that the energy you put into this effort will pay abundant dividends.