Summer is here, so it’s a good time to think about work-life balance. Unfortunately, you and your employees are so busy and feel pulled in so many directions that you all may find the idea of work-life balance elusive, and with good reason.
Technology makes us available and “on” 24/7/365. Our phones tether us to work. Our minds wander to the job at the most inopportune times. That’s why it’s critical that we figure out a way to balance our work and our personal lives.
So first, I want to share with you three truths about work-life balance:
Judgment gets in the way
One work-life balance challenge is that most people deal with guilt and judgment. Many live in a land of “should.” You should do that next report, make one more call, read that new book. And, at the same time, you should be home; you should spend time with your spouse, friends, kids, etc.
The judgment doesn’t stop there. It extends, real or imagined, to other areas in your life. Colleagues wonder when you will get something done, while people in the rest of your life wonder when you will be home. All those judgments, internal and external, real and imagined, get in the way of you finding the balance you seek.
Work-life balance isn’t static
One mistake is thinking you can find work-life balance like it’s a “thing” or a “place.” You find a book or a new couch. You reach a destination. Work-life balance isn’t that tangible or permanent, which means it’s variable. Like balancing a scale, your time and focus will necessarily shift more heavily one way, then the other, based on situations and circumstances. To assume you can reach a balanced spot for more than a short time is folly.
There is no perfect
Your balance isn’t static, and it isn’t perfect. When you consider work-life balance to be a journey, you will have a healthy approach to it. While judgment gets in the way, so does comparison. People often look at others who appear to have the “ideal” balance and try to emulate them. That is also a mistake because your balance must be based on your needs. You won’t reach your perfect by emulating someone else.
Finding your work-life balance
So how do you make time for all your commitments, both professional and personal? Start with these four steps.
- Focus on values. Your balance will be defined by your values. The things you value most should, over time, occupy the most of your time, thought and energy. Once you are clear on your values, you can map your activities and time to them. When you do that, your ability to understand your perfect balance will be clearer and therefore easier to achieve.
- Be present. Balance isn’t about raw number of hours. It’s about being present where you are at all times. When you are home, are you on your laptop or are you communicating with and interacting with those you care about? When you are at work, are you focused on your work or checking Twitter? A big part of balance is being present, in real time, in each situation. Not only will that help you be more balanced, it will allow you to be more satisfied with the moments of your life.
- Eliminate unnecessary activities. One practical way to find more balance is to take things out of your calendar that aren’t important or necessary. As you get more ruthless with your calendar, you gain more time back that can be devoted to other portions of your life. Look closely at your calendar and eliminate what you can.
- Ask for feedback. One way to stay on the journey is to ask people in your life how they think you are doing on your work-life balance. Their perspective, especially the most important people in your life, will encourage you to evaluate how you spend your time.
Vacation season is upon us! Here are some additional resources you can use to plan and prepare for both your and employees’ getaways, so you all can relax and re-energize.