Is it possible to have a work home life that is in balance?
Yes, it is possible. The balance is, however, different for everyone depending upon things such as where you are in your career, whether you have your own business or work for someone else and what stage of life you are at. Everyone has a unique way of being in balance depending upon their life and their priorities. Being in balance really means having the time for the things that matter to you and feeling happy that you are living life according to your values. Everyone will have a unique point of balance depending upon their life and their priorities. There is no magical ‘point’ of balance so much as there is a feeling of being in balance that differs for everyone.
What about those people who say it’s not possible?
I have read a number of articles which state that work home life balance is a load of rubbish and is not possible. This seems rather defeatist. Having balance between your work and home life may require some changes, but it is always possible. For example, when our daughter was a baby, my husband and I chose to have staggered working hours so that we would not have to put her in care. We were often tired, but we had the right balance for us as it was important to us that we raise our children ourselves. Our choice (and the tiredness we endured for a few years) meant we both still managed to have careers while being able to share beautiful quality time with our daughter. Our struggle at that point was time to share with each other; and with a little bit of effort that too was possible.
Does having work home life balance mean you have to change your job?
A number of people focus upon work home life balance as being a choice between working full time and part time. For some people, part time work will be the only way they can feel at balance with their work and home lives. Employers have become increasingly flexible with part time work options, so this choice doesn’t often present difficulties.
People who change to part time work (or take several years off work for family commitments) often feel that they can never ‘catch up’ in terms of their careers. If this is a real concern for you:
- There are ways you can still maintain your career while spending quality time with your loved ones. You can do this by being disciplined about becoming more efficient both at work and at home and by identifying and defeating the things that rob you of time.
- Check it is a valid concern rather than a preconceived idea that no longer holds true. I have personal experience with a number of friends who have continued to gain promotions in their work environment despite the fact they work part time.
- Look at the cost of having a full time career. If the choice for you is between spending time with loved ones (or doing things you love) and not rising quite as far in your career… or not having time for your loved ones (or the things you love) and rising to the height of your career… which choice will you make? Several years ago I gave the eulogy for my grandfather at his funeral. As I read it, it became obvious that people did not remember him for his business successes, but rather for the person he was, the time he spent with them and the ways in which he touched their hearts.
If it is genuinely the case (and check that it is) that you cannot pursue your current career and still have a work home life balance, then it may be that you have to change where you work or look for ways in which you can make passive income.
What does it take?
There are 4 steps to having a great work home balance:
- Assess your current work home life balance
- Work out your goals and your priorities
- Become a successful juggler
- Manage your stress
Step 1: Assess your current work home life balance
There are a number of tools available to assess your current work home life balance to see which areas of your life are falling short. The six areas that usually make up your life are:
- Home environment
- Health and body
It is usually a failure to give adequate time and attention to one or more of these areas of your life that causes you to feel like you do not have a good home work life balance.
Once you have identified the areas that are causing you problems, it is time to move into the second step which involves working out your goals and your priorities.
Step 2: Work out your goals and your priorities
You will only feel like you do not have a healthy work home life balance if you are not spending sufficient time doing something you believe is important. In other words, you are not living life according to your values. This step involves working out what is really important to you in life. This can require ruthless honestly because you need to be focusing upon what really matters to you, not what:
- other people think should matter to you;
- you think other people think should matter to you; and
- you think ‘society’ believes should be important to you.
Once you have worked out what is important to you:
- set yourself some goals;
- prioritize them; and
- begin to take the actions that will help you achieve them.
Step 3: Become a successful juggler
Everyone has exactly the same number of seconds in each day, yet some of us always find sufficient time to do the things we want and others struggle. What makes the difference? The difference lies in how we spend our time.
To successfully juggle your time so that you achieve all you want to in a day requires you to do three simple things:
- Defeat the things that rob you of time. Work out what your time robbers are and implement strategies to stop them stealing your time in future. The time robbers may be internal things such as procrastination or disorganisation, they may be external things such as clients or people who drop in for chats or they may be things like watching television.
- Become more efficient in the way you do your tasks. Can you multi task by, for example, putting the washing on before you start cooking dinner so that you can hang it up while dinner is simmering? Can you do all of one type of job at the same time or cook in bulk and freeze meals? Find the ways you can become more efficient and be ruthless about doing it. Every second you shave off a task is a second you have to spend on something more precious to you.
- Spend quality time with yourself and loved ones. Implement techniques so that you ‘switch off’ from work and can be present with the loved ones in your life. Even if your work prohibits you from have a large amount of time with your loved ones, find ways to make the time you have with them count.
Step 4: Manage your stress
Feeling like you are not in balance can cause you to feel stressed. When you feel stressed you become unpleasant both in your work and home environments and you also find it more difficult to complete tasks. The final step in having a successful work home life balance is to implement strategies to ensure that the levels of stress you feel in your life because of the competing priorities you have are adequately managed.