Everyone talks about it. Everyone wants it. But few people actually know how to get it. We’re talking about work/life balance.
It’s a catch phrase that became very popular in the 1990’s and 20 years later, we’re still trying to figure out how to make it work. If you find that your personal life is spilling over into your professional life, and your professional life has all but taken over your personal life, here are some things you can try to achieve a better balance.
Define what work/life balance means to you
It may seem obvious, but a work/life balance can mean different things to different people. And, it can actually mean different things to the same person at different times in their life. A single person in their mid-20’s may look at work/life balance as 70/30, or even 80/20, if a lot of their social interaction happens at work. Now throw in a partner, a few kids, some aging parents and a dog, and that balance can look quite different.
This cannot be emphasized enough. Make sure both sides (home and business) know that, except for an emergency, which hours in a day are dedicated to each side. It might also help to clearly define what constitutes an emergency. If you can, slot in time for yourself or your family during the workday – say at lunch or for a 10 min break in the morning and afternoon. Once you have clearly defined your availability, the real trick is sticking to it. There will always be another email to answer, another client to call…and they’ll all still be there tomorrow.
Take advantage of technology
Technological advancements in the workplace, like video-conferencing, can help save precious time commuting to and from your office for meetings. Use this “found” time to get your daily tasks completed during your workday so you don’t have to bring work home with you at night.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
And do you know what’s really small? Dust bunnies! If you can afford it, hire a service to clean your home once a week, or even once every two weeks. If you can’t afford it, try to schedule specific time to clean your home and stick to it. If it’s not spotless all the time, that’s OK. If your time away from the office is just more “work”, then you really haven’t achieved a work/life balance.
Learn the hardest word in the English language
And that’s “no”. Give yourself permission to not take on every extra task at work. You do not need to be on every committee and volunteer to help organize every social event. The same goes for your personal life.