Work-life balance? Is there such a thing?

I do not feel it when I am rushing into the office, sweating, out of breath, knowing that you are already late because you dropped your kid off at school or you chose to have a few moments of quality time with your spouse (or maybe you had to drop off your car for an oil change!). 

In today’s world where the amount of “extra” hours you have put in per week is a measurement of how dedicated you are to your company, ANY time away from the office is considered a privilege. Even when we are out of the office, we can’t get away from work!

A study last year showed that cell phone users check their phones an average of 150 times per day! When was the last time you intentionally turned off your phone for at least an hour? And sleeping doesn’t count—especially if you sleep with your phone next to your bed (like I do) and check emails or texts in the middle of the night as they come in and/or as soon as your eyes pop open in the morning. EXHAUSTING!

So how do we achieve the coveted work life balance? Here are a few things to try:

  • Strive for a consistent schedule and no (or less) overtime
  • If possible, work a flexible schedule, like a four-day workweek or working from home
  • Take time off to take care of family or attend school events
  • TAKE your vacation (yes, you can actually take it without feeling guilty or overwhelmed when you return)
  • Longer maternity and paternity leaves, with staffing to backfill your position while you’re out
  • Tell your colleagues that you will not be checking emails on the weekend
  • Put an out-of-office notification on your email to remind people
  • Put your work phone and computer away somewhere during the weekend. If your work emails come to your personal smartphone, then remove the account, or get a dedicated phone for work
  • Tell your family what you intend so that if they catch you checking emails they can remind you
  • Work out whether you can afford to have a cleaner at home
  • Asking your spouse, and if appropriate, children, to do more chores, and agreeing a reasonable split
  • Identifying one day per week which is ‘chore-free’ and have fun or relax day

You can take control of your life, and make time for the things that matter to you, but nobody else is going to do that for you. 

If you want to spend more time out of work, then you will have to start leaving work earlier or arriving later. You may need to learn to be more assertive with your colleagues, and particularly start to say ‘no’, if anyone asks you to take on more. 

Once you start making changes, you may be surprised how easy it is to achieve a better “work-life balance”. What are you waiting for?