The issue of work-life balance have been a long-term dilemma and the topic for endless debates, maybe ever since the inception of the modern business capitalism.
Senior executives and business scholars will tell you that true work-life balance is impossible to achieve, and is at best an empty idealism. However, we cannot say that maintaining both the work aspect and the life aspect in our lives is not important, in fact, a damage to one might affect our performance in the other, and vice versa.
How then, that we can at least achieve some form of balance between work and life? Here are some secrets how.
Sometimes, the biggest issues we can have regarding work-life balance are rooted in poor communications. A spouse might constantly nag you about how you spent too much time at work, while you are afraid to ask your employer for fewer overtimes. On the other hand, your business partner might complain about how you have less involvement in a big project, and you’re afraid to communicate to your family about how you will need to be more focused on the project.
Here are some notable keys to success in communicating your work-life balance issues to both parties that you might consider:
-Keep Your Promises
The purpose of your communications here will be to get some kinds of leniency in one aspect of your life, and most of the time, you will have to make some promise about how the leniencies and changes might affect your performance and attendance in the future.
The key to having a long-term work-life balance, in this case, is to make sure to keep those promises.Let’s begin by not making any promises you can’t deliver.
Remember that you are looking for a long-term progress instead of a one-off. Thus, keeping honesty throughout your communications will be extremely important to achieve that goal.
-Effective Communication is a Two-Way Communication
Remember that good communication is not always about speaking your opinion, but also being a good listener. On the other hand, many of us make the mistake of listening too much and speaking too little. Want to achieve a work-life balance? Arguably the best way to start is achieving speaking and listening balance first.
The right communications to achieve work-life balance is not only interpersonal (you and other people), but also interpersonal (you and yourself), in which one of them is defining your own goals and missions. Thus, we will move on to the next subject.
2. Define Your Success
Because as we have discussed, achieving a perfect work-life balance will be impossible, then we can understand that the true management of work-life balance is about making choices.
Making effective choices begin with defining a clear goal, and in the case of work-life balance, it will be different for each and every one of us.
Some people might have a point of view where their financial success is a bigger priority, as it will translate to providing a better life for his or her family. On the other hand, some people will prioritize spending more time with their family over their career success. Other people might also want to prioritize developing themselves further as their primary goal.
Define your own success goals, and after you have got a clear picture, come back to number one and communicate it clearly to those that matters.
3. Think Long Term
The biggest issue that drives the work-life balance dilemma is how time is a finite resource, and we don’t have any form of control over it. This phenomenon creates a problem when we try to manage the time for both our life and work, and ends up not having enough time for both.
However, in many times, this problem of not having enough time arises because we are looking at too little of a scope. For example, when a week is 7 days, and you are having a big issue at work, it will be hard to maintain an equal balance of 3 and half days for both your work and your life.
But, if we are looking at a bigger picture and a long term vision, we might be able to achieve the balance if the time constraint is a month or even a year.
Create a plan of balancing both your home and your life on a yearly basis, or if necessary, a 5-year plan.
For example, you might have 11 months of focused work in a year, with an average of a 40-hour workweek. In that 11 months, then, you have 1,760 hours of focused work, 2,464 hours of sleep (with an assumption of 8-hour sleep every day), and the rest of 3,168 hours of your ‘life,’ the time you spend in traffic, etc. How then can you balance it out with maybe a few weeks of family holiday? Alternatively, if you are single, a traveling period? We will let you be the judge.
By the way, looking at that calculation above, apparently, we actually have more time for our ‘life’ even on a 40-hour workweek. Why then, a lot of us felt that it was not the case? Let’s move on to the next point for the answer.
4. Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time
Sometimes, the case is it is not that you don’t have enough time for work, for your family, for your own ‘me-time’ or for all of them, but you do not have enough energy to do all of them.
To manage your energy, there are several things that you can do:
-Maintaining Physical Energy
Workouts are important, and any successful businessmen will tell you so. Even if it is only 15-minutes a day, make time to move your body around a little.
-Maintaining Emotional Energy
Focus on positive things and emotions instead of negative ones, it will help maintain your overall energy level tremendously.
-Maintaining Mental Energy
Create a proper schedule and plan your day better, it will conserve your overall mental energy than doing all the scattered tasks at once.
-Maintaining Spiritual Energy
There’s always that activity that will hit your sweet spot, and it will be different for everyone. Some people prefers that binge reading, some prefer playing video games, some prefer watching a movie. Make sure that you allocate ‘appropriate’ time (appropriate, not overwhelming) to recharge your energy.
5. Manage Your Technology
There is one single phenomenon that overcomplicates the work-life balance issue of today’s life: our technology is overwhelming.
Our grandfathers, or even fathers, won’t have to deal with the issue of hundreds of email notifications a day. Remember those ‘urgent’ chat messages from the boss and co-workers we need to reply all the time? Moreover, how about the seemingly never-ending social media feeds that tempt us to look ‘just a little’ (we all know how it usually ends up)?
To manage this, dedicate scheduled, separate times to check your technology feeds, and commit to those schedules. The most common practice a lot of senior executives do is not checking their email as soon as they reached home. Social media distractions can be very unproductive, so set up an appropriate schedule to manage it well.