Tip Sheet Series: Work Life Balance
Updated: Apr 13
Creating healthy work boundaries with your teammates will help you hold one another accountable when engaging in professional activities- but are you maximizing your personal time? We've got some tips for you below:
1. Do you schedule your personal time like business time?
But my personal time is intended to be non-work time with no schedule. Sounds good! However, the best adjusted professionals have learned to schedule their non-work time similar to how they have structured their work time. This tends to establish clear boundaries on your time enabling you to disconnect from work at the end of your scheduled work time. Otherwise work will tend to dominate over your personal time.
For those with dual-career responsibilities holding full-time jobs, managing kids, elders and pets, can you share tasks with relatives, friends and neighbors? Can you pay for services during the workday? This enables you to focus your "work time on work" with scheduled personal time to assist with daycare/pet care/elder care activities. Essentially you are using your work skills to organize your person time that attends to non-mission critical, but essential activities.
2. Monday through Friday 8-5 workday?
Balance is all about how you use your time. Your workday is defined by you, co-workers, family, and friends. If you are in a customer facing job you will need to schedule your work time to meet the customer requirements. It is all about our customers, either internal or external. Internal customers (your peers or managers) will typically have much more flexibility on use of your time. Can you negotiate how your work output is measured? Rather than hours worked, consider more results driven outputs.
Can you structure your workday for several early morning hours, mid-day hours or evening hours? Important personal hours in the day like kids’ activities, spouse time, and mealtime simply need to be scheduled into your day.
3. Am I in the here and now?
We all have demands on our time that draw mental energy from the task at hand putting us in the "here and there and everywhere". Have you set up your workspace to minimize distractions? Like entering thought the gate at the workplace, put your mind in the work mode at work time, the fun mode when in family time, or silent mode when listening to music or enjoying a good movie. Can you schedule the most important tasks in a day for windows of time when you have the most energy?
4. Good at work, good at play?
What are my strengths? Do I leave them at work? Find personal time activities that blend your strengths whether it is socializing, learning, or creativity. For a successful balance you want to overlap your strengths with your passion.
5. Have I set boundaries?
For many people, it is difficult to set boundaries, or say no to others. This can be especially challenging for those who self-identify as people-pleasers or workaholics. If you have not perfected this behavior, you will likely be frustrated on both sides of your life. You will find that setting your boundaries with peers and managers will gain their respect. While saying no can be tough, don’t apologize and communicate your needs honestly and clearly. Of course, you need to put things into context and be gracious in declining a request because you don’t have time/energy/budget to fit into your schedule.
6. Do you have rituals?
Having a structured work from home routine is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. Make sure you build in recovery breaks so you can reset your focus. No person achieves peak performance working 6 hours straight. A ritual does not need to be laborious but gets you in the frame of mind once you sit at the computer and crack open the laptop. Studies indicate there is a correlation between regular breaks and creativity.
We are all creatures of habit, have you established rituals? Does your boss expect you on-line at a certain time to respond to emails? People like predictable behavior, have you scheduled “boss time”? This becomes especially important when working with differing time zones.
Your morning ritual could include dressing for work, review your to-do list, make sure pets and kids have their needs met. Afternoon rituals could include a physical break, exercise, walk the dog, play with the kids, taking a drive and finish the day with your updated task list. Develop your rhythm that will get you through the workday. Don’t forget to include a “disconnect” ritual like updating your to-do task list to close your workday.
7. Do I have a plan?
Have you prioritized the important things? Juggling a career and personal life will inevitably involve some sacrifices. You simply cannot accommodate every family, social or school activity. There will be those required virtual meetings, but there may also be personal commitments that are equally important and non-negotiable. Know your priorities and build them into your plan.
1. Britt, Hugo. Go Skills. 14 Ways To Improve Work-Life Balance. Retrieved 19 February, 2021, from, https://www.goskills.com/Office-Productivity/Resources/Work-life-balance-tips
2. Counts, Emily. 6 Tips For Planning Your Day And A Free Daily To Do List Printable. Retrieved 19 February 2021, from, https://smallstuffcounts.com/tips-for-planning-your-day-and-a-free-daily-to-do-list-printable/#:~:text=6%20Tips%20For%20Planning%20Your%20Day%201%20%7C,...%206%20%7C%20Allow%20For%20Buffer%20Time.%20
3. Rollin, Jennifer. Psychology Today. 3 Ways to Set Boundaries and Learn to Say "No"
It's never easy to turn people down, but you can get tougher with practice. Retrieved 19 February, 2021, from, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindful-musings/201606/3-ways-set-boundaries-and-learn-say-no
4. Inspiring Leadership Now, Blog. The People Pleaser’s Guide To Saying “No!” – How To Set Boundaries At Work That Gain Respect… Without The Guilt!. Retrieved 19 February 2021, from, https://www.inspiringleadershipnow.com/how-to-set-boundaries-at-work/#:~:text=%20How%20To%20Set%20Boundaries%20At%20Work%3A%208,Other%20Person%E2%80%99s%20Request%20In%20Context.%20You...%20More