5 easy steps to work life balance
When I was a kid I played on a giant seesaw. I’d walk up one end until I got to the middle. When I reached the middle I would maintain balance by allowing the seesaw to slightly tip from one side to the other. The trick was holding in my core.
And that’s one of the secrets to work life balance.
30 years later my life has become like that seesaw as I balance work and personal commitments. The slight tippings are the slight adjustments I need to make to maintain work life balance. The trick is my core, that is, my personal and mental health.
In pac executive’s recent workplace productivity survey, it was found that 45% of women struggle to maintain work life balance.
But it is not an unattainable goal if you take the right key steps…
1. Set your scope
The first step to any project is planning it to set your scope. As the project progresses you stay focused on the scope to ensure it doesn’t creep, when it does, you either stop scope creep or you redefine the scope.
It’s the same with your work life balance. Determine the hours you are willing to work and when. If you have a partner, speak with them about what is considered to be sacred time such as family dinners and weekends.
Most of us put in a few extra hours at work. Be careful not to let your hours exceed 50 hours per week. That’s the tipping point between happiness and misery, optimal productivity and exhaustion.
2. Understand your priorities
When you understand your priorities it’s easier to make decisions about what you will and won’t spend your time on. When you find your balance tipping too far in one direction you can make decisions around what you won’t do and what you’ll delegate so you don’t lose focus on what’s important.
Understanding your priorities in your personal life is usually easy. It comes to mind straight away. Take time to establish your priorities with your manager, and if you run your own business, be clear on the direction of your business and your top three priorities. Plan and review weekly.
3. Keep communication lines open
Balance is all about communication. Speak with your family about work commitments and how you will manage them together. Talk to your manager, direct reports and colleagues about personal commitments and how you will make them work.
Remember the old saying ‘perception is reality’. Your work colleagues may see you leave early or start late and think you’re not putting in as much time as they are. What they don’t see are the phone calls you make from home, or the extra hours you put in after the kids have gone to bed. Manage perceptions by talking to them about the way you balance work and personal priorities and remember that proof comes with results.
4. Learn to say no
Australians can be too polite. We take on too much because we don’t know how to say no. You’ll hear some coaches telling you that “no is a one word sentence” but that doesn’t work in our culture. It’s critical that you learn how to say no when you’re asked to attend unnecessary meetings or take on commitments that don’t align with your priorities.
Determine what you will say when you’re asked to take on work that you shouldn’t. I say, “thanks for thinking of me but I am working on three really important projects at the moment and don’t have the bandwidth to take on additional work.” In my personal life, I’ll say “thank you for the invitation it means a lot to thought of. Unfortunately I’m fully committed that weekend.”
5. Prioritize happiness
Remember your core — your physical and mental health. They are critical to maintaining optimal productivity at work, and maintaining your energy levels in your personal life. Too often we ditch exercise and healthy eating when things get busy however this is when we need them the most.
Exercise with loved ones and you’re ticking off two priorities at once. Workout with teammates during the workday to help you develop professional relationships.
Don’t neglect your mental health either. Your self-esteem and confidence can take a hit at different points in your career or personal life. Take care of yourself and prioritize your happiness.