A common topic in my coaching sessions is work/life balance. Heavy workloads, daily abundance of emails, competing deadlines, required meetings, and other concerns can be so overwhelming that work can become the focal point and main priority in life. As a result, we can feel obligated to dedicate long hours to our work. We struggle with setting and honoring boundaries that could give us a more balanced life. Many of us know the benefits of a work/life balance, but fall short in achieving it.
The definition of work/life balance is different for each individual. For one person, it’s working a set number of hours in a day or week. For another person, it’s scheduling some longer days for more intense work and some shorter days that are easier. And some people prefer a compressed work schedule—such as four ten-hour days—so that they have an extra day off every week.
So how can you achieve much-needed balance between your work and home life? It’s usually a combination of priorities, boundaries, and structure.
Identify your priorities. Depending on where you are in life, your priorities may be different than they used to be. What is most important in your life right now? Think of what work/life balance means to you, based on those priorities. It could be something as simple as not taking work home or checking email on the weekends so that you can be fully present with your family. Or dedicating Wednesday nights to bowling with friends to keep your relationships close.
Set your boundaries. What boundaries might help you achieve work/life balance? It may be getting to work no earlier than 9:00 a.m. on Mondays and going home no later than 3:00 p.m. on Fridays.
Create some structure. What kind of structure needs to be in place for work/life balance? It could be having weekly one-on-one meetings with each staff member to ensure that you delegate more effectively.
Think before you commit. Do you sometimes say yes because you want to be seen as a team player—and instantly regret it? I’ll never forget a thought-provoking edict from my coach training: “Whenever you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else.” Pause to think about the potential impact of your answer before you respond to a request.
Honor yourself by applying any or all of these steps. You will instantly feel more in control of your daily life as you move toward the balance you need to succeed—both at home and at work.