Work life balance – 7 tips to be more effective at work life balance
Work-life balance is something we hear all the time and something we want. Some people say work-life balance is a myth and others say it is totally attainable. I believe it’s somewhere in the middle. I believe it’s something you can have, but it’s not a perfect balance. And it’s not something that will look the same every day.
So let’s talk about how to be more effective when balancing career and family life.
1. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
The very first thing we have to do is set realistic expectations. If you have the perfect work life balance picture in your head, where you go to work for 8 hours, check out and spend the rest of your day fully dedicated to your family – you need to edit that picture. That is simply not attainable – it might be on some days but this is definitely not an everyday occurrence.
And let’s make it clear: you cannot have it all and have it at the same time! You are not a robot! You will have to make some sacrifices and let some things go. And we will dig deeper into how to do that later on in this post.
You have to think of life balance from a high level view. So if you were to evaluate you work-life balance from the monthly or quarterly perspective – are you happy with the way things are going?
So don’t have this perfect Instagram picture in your head of how you want your work-life balance to look like. Setting those unrealistic expectations will only make you feel inadequate and set your mom guilt through the roof.
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2. YOUR VERSION
The second tip on being more effective at work life balance is to determine your own version of what that looks like. I believe that one of the biggest pitfalls occurs when thinking of work life balance is believing that it looks the same for everyone.
We simply need to quit comparing ourselves to others. Our lifestyles are different, our priorities vary, and our family dynamics work differently. We cannot expect that what works for one family will work the same way for the other.
The work life balance that will work for you must be tailored to you and your family. Otherwise, I can promise you that you will not feel like you are balanced at all.
So let’s dive in and talk about how to best determine your own version of life balance.
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3. DECIDE ON FAMILY PRIORITIES AND NON-NEGOTIABLES
The best way to start is by deciding on what are your family priorities. Think about your non-negotiables first. What are some things you are not willing to sacrifice for your career.
This could be things like spending Holidays with your family. Or it might be being present each morning to send your kids to school or participating in each sporting event.
Those non-negotiables will be different for each family. And there is no right or wrong choice here. You know what is best for YOU!
Then decide on your priorities as a family. This could be things like doing family activities each Saturday afternoon or eating dinner as a family at least 4 times a week. Decide what are the most important things and activities that bring you closer together.
Again what is working for your friend might not work for you. If you try to implement family breakfast together on the weekends but nobody in your family besides you is a morning person – you will find yourself eating breakfast with a bunch of grumpy people;) So maybe a better option for you is to have lunch or dinner as a family.
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4. DECIDE ON WORK PRIORITIES
Once you have your family priorities established, it is time to decide on your career and work priorities. Think about what your long term and short term goals are as for your career goes. Where do you want to be next year and where do you want to be in 5 years? Having those goals written down will help you determine what are your work related priorities.
When you know what you are working towards, you will have to set some limits and parameters around your job.
You have to decide on things like your schedule. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, you need to set a regular schedule. Sure, there are going to be times where you will have to go outside of those hours, but that should be an exception to the rule. You absolutely need some baseline.
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You also have to think about things like how much travel are you willing to do, the number of different projects you feel comfortable talking on, and how often do you want to participate in social events outside of working hours (e.g. networking, happy hours).
Having those clear priorities and parameters around your work schedule will help you determine when things are getting unbalanced and you need to readjust and make necessary changes.
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5. REMEMBER ABOUT YOURSELF!
So now you know what your family and career priorities are. But we often forget that the life portion of the work-life balance is not just family. There is much more! It’s things like health, household, personal development, and spirituality.
But don’t forget about yourself! If all you do is work and take care of your family, you will find yourself unfulfilled and resentful. Take my word for it – I was there no that long ago. You have to take care of yourself in order to better take care of everyone else.
And I have a free resource below to help you set specific goals in each area of your life so you can have a better life balance. If you are not sure what life area to start with, don’t worry. I’m working on finalizing my Life Balance Workbook, which will be coming out in a couple of weeks. So make sure you are on my email list to be among the first ones to find out!
6. YOU HAVE TO DECIDE WHAT WILL GET SHORTCHANGED
And now it’s time for the hardest step. In order to be more effective in work-life balance you have to let some things go. Now that you know what your priorities are, it’s time to decide what things you can eliminate or delegate to make your life easier and have more time to dedicate to your priorities.
For example, if a home cooked meal every night is not your top priority, then maybe ordering takeout a couple nights a week is an option. You can decide to let go of things like ironing, folding clothes, cutting veggies – you buy them pre-cut.
Or maybe a spotless house is not your top priority? If that is the case, let go of spending hours upon hours cleaning the house because you think that is an expectation of you as a mom. If you do like having a clean house – perhaps get some help from your family or delegate that responsibility to a cleaning service.
Figure out what things can get shortchanged. Because as much as we all want to be superwomen – we are not. Or we are for a short period of time and then we get burned out.
7. EVALUATE ON REGULAR BASIS AND CHANGE / BE FLEXIBLE
And the final step in being more effective in a work life balance is to be flexible and evaluate on a regular basis.
You want to be flexible, because like I said at the very beginning, work-life balance is not something that you can see on a daily basis. But something that you look at from a much higher perspective. So things will often get in your way. You will have a child with the flu and have to take off work in the middle of an important project. You will have an unexpected work trip in the middle of an important sport season for your son or daughter. That’s life.
And it is also important to evaluate because your priorities might change or you might realize that some things are no longer working for you.
Maybe you have observed that your work travel frequency worked for you great in the past but now that your kids became more involved in the after-school activities, it is no longer convenient and you feel like you are missing out too much.
Or perhaps you have realized that when you spend Saturdays as a family and do all the household chores and prep for the week ahead on Sundays, it is leaving you totally drained at the end of the weekend. And you might decide to change those days around to see if that would work better for you and your family.
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Just remember that nothing is static. We need to keep adjusting and changing as things around us change. This is the only way to continue to have your version of life balance.
What are your biggest struggles when it comes to work-life balance?