Work-Life Balance: Capturing the Best of Both
Updated: Oct 2, 2018
I hear many people talk about work-life balance these days. There is a clear erosion of the boundary between work time and personal time. Technology makes employees accessible around the clock.
In a recent study by Harvard Business School 94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours her week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week. Experts agree: the compounding stress from the never-ending workday can be damaging. It can hurt relationships, health and happiness.
Have you felt the following sentiments?
It seems my work interferes with my ability to be fully present at home.
I miss opportunities on making a difference in my professional life.
I carry some guilt that I’m not a better parent, spouse or friend. My job disrupts the quality time I seek.
How can I do both work and home better?
It hasn't always been this way for the working professional/parent. So what’s the deal? What are we really trying to accomplish as individuals and employees? Can we really do both? Can we be both an effective professional and engaged person outside our work?
Consider a Change in Thinking
An error in our thinking about work-life balance is the small conjunction "or". We often think either I spend more time in my personal life OR I spend more time in my work life. However, consider changing the conjunction from "or" to "and". Let's face it, work AND personal life are interdependent on one another. Most people cannot have one without the other. The reason we are stuck in the cycle of the work-life balance equation is our lens is based on balancing rather than leveraging. Leveraging both of these inter-dependencies is key! It's AND instead of OR thinking.
An Actionable Road Map
For the sake of explaining, let's define a purpose statement: "I want to achieve a thriving work and home life." Next, we need to identify some tangible action steps for the purpose statement that are measurable for work life AND personal life. These action steps will help maintain the positive balance of both. Here's some examples:
Action Steps for Personal Life
I will sign-up for those piano lessons I've delayed for five years.
I will schedule two family vacations-spring and summer.
Action Steps for Work Life
I will sign-up and complete one professional development course in the next sixty days.
I will contract with my boss that I have the resources I need to complete the job that is expected of me.
However, concentrating on the action steps alone will not assure that you have a thriving work and home life. We also need to identify warning signs that we are overemphasizing one at the expense of the other. These signs should be measurable indicators. Here's some examples:
Warning Signs Overemphasizing Personal Life
I'm not volunteering to join new project teams when I have the opportunity.
I feel like I'm just going through the motions at work. My attention drifts half the day.
Warning Signs Overemphasizing Work Life
My family complains I'm never home from work in time for dinner.
I miss more than two community board meetings in any one quarter.
Maintaining a Healthy Balance
According to a 2014 Forbes article on the subject matter, here's a few other things to consider in maintaining a healthy work-life balance: let go of perfectionism, unplug, exercise, limit time-wasting people and activities, start small and build from there. When we start small by changing our way of thinking to a healthy balance of work life AND personal life, we can build from there. Adding action steps holds us accountable to begin to capture the "thriving work AND home life" we seek. What will you do first to capture the best of both?