Unless you’ve been living under a rock, which if you’re reading this, I assume you haven’t, you’ve heard the term “work-life balance”. For years, generations have been making their contributions to society and changing the way we live. For example, Gen Xers gave us MTV and the Atari and introduced the concept of work life balance. Now, Millennials are taking it a step further with self-care, mental health awareness, and selfie sticks. You know, the important stuff.
According to Forbes (2018), “Employers have been putting in tremendous effort trying to determine the best way to appeal to millennial workers.”
More and more companies are adopting work policies that improve its employee’s quality of life. They’re providing complimentary meals, installing on-site gyms, and even have massage therapists visit the office. However, it’s important not to rely solely on your company to guarantee you get a healthy “balance”. I recently attended Maser Women’s Organization’s Work Life Balance Panel to gain additional insight.
The panel was compromised of five panelists in different stages of their lives and careers. Two things were evident from the beginning:
- Having a healthy work-life balance isn’t a one-size fits all. You can only do what’s best for you and your family.
- You’re going to become the best damn planner, ever.
Besides being present for this job, holidays, and birthdays, I have zero obligations. So, when I hear work-life balance, I think of my next vacation. Not because I need one, or because I’m eager for a break from work, but because I can. So, when HR Business Partner Christina Urciuoli recommended people in my position take those vacations, I booked my flight to France.
For people who have other obligations, I get it, you can’t just leave on a whim. However, there are plenty of ways to achieve that healthy work-life balance we’re all searching for.
It’s not always easy making time for the people and activities you love. But it’s important to remember, unless you’re Derek Shepherd, no one is going to die if you don’t go to work. So, when you’re at a managerial level, how do you pull yourself away and turn off that work switch?
Remember rule #1: family time is family time. Regional Survey Manager Glen Lloyd won’t work late hours or weekends. “I owe that time to my family.” If you’ve made a commitment to your family or to yourself, don’t let work stand in your way. Instead, work around these obligations. Need to leave work early for a school event? Make up lost hours in the evening or early in the morning.
Rule #2: Communicate! One of the best parts of working in a team environment is knowing you have one another’s backs. But that doesn’t work if you don’t talk to each other. So, if you’re in a difficult situation, don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers for help. Just make sure to return the favor! And if you’re headed out of the office, check in with them to ensure you aren’t leaving anyone high and dry. And last but certainly not least, don’t forget to speak to your numero uno teammate, your spouse. On Sundays, look at your schedules, see what the kids have going on and discuss how you’re going to make it happen.
Now, let’s talk about family vacation. I get it. Sometimes you need to check your emails and respond to that “urgent” message. However, there’s a time and a place for it. If you’re going to put a couple hours of work in while you’re away, do it while everyone else is sleeping. Wake up early before your day really starts, this way, you can give your undivided attention without telling your kids, “Just five more minutes.” But be careful not to let the work waiting for you negatively impact your mood!
Moral of the story, don’t miss out on the important moments. Make work work for you.
Regardless of your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (I’m an ENFP-A, or campaigner, in case you were wondering), we all need some “me time.” Whether you have a family or just work a crazy busy schedule, you’ve got to find that time somewhere.
Having the ability to work flex hours or from home is becoming increasingly popular and has a positive impact on your quality of life. Seriously just Google it. So, if your company and manager allow it, try and work from home when you can. Giving yourself that extra hour of sleep in the morning or cutting out the daily commute could be just what you need to recharge your batteries without feeling like you need a day off.
On the flip-side, if you’re a working parent the only “me-time” you may get is waking up early or during your commute. For example, Carol Rech, marketing assistant, wife, and mother of two, spent 25 years working in Manhattan and loved her commute. “I am a voracious reader so my commute on the train was really the only time I had to read,” she said.
Pro-tip: If you have something you like to do for yourself, include your family too. This way, you still get to enjoy your favorite activities and you get to do them with the people you love.
If you have a busy schedule or a busy family, you need to be realistic about your “me-time”. Would you like to spend an hour and a half enjoying your hobby? Yes. Is it realistic? Rarely. If you’re honest with yourself and your expectations, you’ll feel accomplished, satisfied, and recharged even after a shorter break.
It’s also important to be honest about job requirements. If you’re applying for a position that requires 50+ hours a week, you need to consider how fatigued you will be, added commute time, or if you can still effectively co-parent. These factors, among others, need to be discussed with your partner to avoid future discord.
Finally, if you can spare the expense, look at services that are meant to help you save time. Trying to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, but don’t have the time to cook? Look at your schedule and see what days you’ll be able to whip something up. The other days try utilizing meal-prep services. This way, you select what meals you want for the week and the shopping is done for you, or, you can pay someone to deliver cooked, portioned meals right to your home.
So, there you have it folks. Communicate, plan, and stay happy! If you have any advice on work life balance tips, drop a comment below! Otherwise, we’ll see you next time I ask, “Am I doing this right?”