For career-minded talent like you and I, the conversation about having a work/life balance always comes up. Most times, the conversation is sparked when a person is feeling overwhelmed at work or devoting too much personal time after-hours to work projects. You usually hear things like “I don’t have time for that” or “there aren’t enough hours in the day” or even “I’m burned out”. Keep your ears open—any time you hear these words coming from a friend, co-worker, or loved one, it is usually one of the first signs that the person is living with an inequity in their work/life balance.
TECHNOLOGY & ITS CONTRIBUTION
As the professional demands we all face at work are on the rise, it is very challenging to carve out time that is dedicated exclusively to personal time. Once you factor in technology, it has become commonplace to field after-hours calls on cell phones or respond to emails at all hours of the night! While ease of communication through technical channels promotes efficiency, it also produces an adverse effect. It doesn’t enable us the opportunity to power down at the end of each work day and recharge our internal batteries. If we are always reachable 24-hours a day for anything work related, when do we get down time to change our headspace or shift our focus to endeavors outside of work? When our work/life balance is off, that often leads to job dissatisfaction over time because we don’t have any personal time to nurture ourselves as a whole person. From a corporate perspective in the short-term, talent may appear to be highly productive. But in the long-term, talent will reach the point of burnout rather quickly and may even offboard from the company. When there is an inequity in work/life balance, no one benefits.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For all of us that give 110% to our jobs and are guilty of all the above, here are some proactive steps you can take to help restore an equitable balance between your work life and your personal life:
- Acknowledge the imbalance between your work life and your personal life. This is half the battle. Once you acknowledge the imbalance, you can recognize that you have the ability to take back control of your life and make a change. You can create the balance you need between your work life and your personal life. A big part of this is setting a goal for yourself while being dedicated to mastering the skill it takes to balance your work life and your home life.
- Carve out time every day that is “you” time. This could be as simple as getting up early to catch a workout before you trek to the office or spending a half hour alone after work in your favorite coffee shop or book store to decompress. When you actively carve out time for yourself, you experience an immediate sense of happiness because you feel fulfilled on a personal level and a professional level. In the end, this has a positive impact on job performance, job satisfaction, and talent retention.
- Recognize that you are a priority. We all have our own set of priorities at work, so why can’t we make ourselves a priority at home too? As you identify your priorities for the day like completing your budget on-time, managing a high-profile project, or leading the team meeting, remember your work/life balance should be high on the list too. Your personal time outside of work is just as much of a priority as that budget or project from your work day. You will have to shift your timeline as to what takes priority at each juncture in your day, but the balance will still be in-tact. When you make the commitment to make yourself a priority, the possibilities are endless.
- Permit yourself to enjoy free time without worrying about work responsibilities. One of the leading causes of anxiety is stress at work. With everything on your plate at work and at home, it is only natural that you feel anxious about accomplishing everything in a single day. But you have to permit yourself to take a break and relax. Enjoying your personal time outside of work doesn’t make you any less dedicated to your job. In fact, it will help to rejuvenate your soul today while igniting your motivation for tomorrow—all while reducing your stress level. Try to tell yourself that tomorrow is another day and the world won’t stop spinning if you don’t respond to an email as soon as it hits your inbox.
We must be mindful that the effects of living with an inequitable work/life balance can wreak havoc on so many parts of our lives including physical/mental health, productivity, and relationships. So next time you are tempted to reach for that cell phone after-hours or respond to a work email while you are watching tv, stop yourself! Just the smallest amount of time to power down from a long work day can make all the difference in your personal AND professional well-being!