Let me clear when I say I love my career. Working in radio has been an amazing opportunity.
I’ve been able to contribute to the support of our household–something that became crucial when our twins had some very expensive health challenges. But, I know I’m not alone when I say I constantly feel like I’m not fully present at home or at work. Especially given today’s economic climate when employers are demanding more and keeping your job means saying “yes! Of course, boss!” Then, life at home hasn’t become any less complex–there’s new and more sophisticated challenges facing our kids every day that require a fairly savvy oversight.
Oh…and then there’s that “pay attention to your husband” thingie… I’m sure The Todd is incredibly flattered to be on my “to-do” list.
I stumbled across a really inspiring article by the “Get It Done Guy” that contained several excellent ideas. Let’s follow along, shall we?
Seven Tips For Managing Work/Life Balance
Tip #1: Budget Your Time
We’re taught to budget our money and spend it wisely, but we’re not taught to budget our time. And while you can earn more money, you can’t get more time. When your number is up, it’s up.
A so-called work life balance is simply deciding how much of your non-replaceable time you’re going to spend working (including your commute), and how much you’re reserving for your actual life – the part that matters. I reserve 3.5 hours on alternate Saturdays for my personal life. I hope you do better.
Tip #2: Choose Your Risk Level
You’re probably already scared. “What if I have to work late some evening?” you ask, breaking out into a sweat. Well, the answer is that you don’t, unless it’s super-duper-important. And if you do, you skip out of work early later in the week or month to make up for those hours. Most businesses don’t give you extra money without expecting extra work or extra quality, there’s no reason the standards for yourself should be lower.
“But I’ll get fired!” you cry. Or, “The company will always favor someone who sacrifices their personal life.” Maybe…
Tip #3: Face the Reality, Not Your Fears
Those fears could be true. In that case, you have a choice to make: What’s more important, your job or your life? Whenever I ask this, people look at me like I’m crazy. They think the answer is obvious. In America, the obvious answer is “your job.” In other countries (where they have siestas), the obvious answer is “your life.” The answer, my friend, is not obvious at all.
Before you indulge your fear, though, look for evidence. In most workplaces, it’s hard enough to find an example of someone fired for any reason. People who put in a solid 8 hours but refuse to work weekends probably don’t get fired. They get laid off, of course, but so do all high-performers, to pay for the executive bonus pool. But fired for anything related to job performance? Not likely. Chances are your fears have no basis in fact.
Tip #4: Less is Really More
Working your crazy hours probably isn’t productive. Work more, sacrifice your life, and you get stressed. If your job demands creativity and problem-solving, you’ll tank your work quality by working 24/7. If your job is people interaction, you’ll bite the heads off customers. And if your job involves physical labor, like cleaning the store when you close at night, you’ll be sloppy and physically weaker.
Tip #5: Talk to Your Boss
If you have a strong relationship with your boss, it’s worth a serious conversation to scale back your hours or your time commitment. Start by saying, “I want to do a good job. The stress of no life is making it hard for me to function well.” Unless your boss is an ogre, you should have room to negotiate. If your boss is an ogre, it’s time for a new boss. Transfer to a new group, transfer to a new company, or replace your boss with an identical-looking robot that obeys your every command.
Tip #6: Schedule Your Personal Life First
My favorite do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do technique is to schedule your personal life before scheduling work. Then ask how you can meet your work goals in the leftover time in your schedule. “I plan to have dinner at 6:30pm every night with my husband, wife, spousal equivalent, children, or polyamorous family units. How can I still get my work done?” You might have ideas like working a half day at the office and a half day from home later in the evening. I used to carpool to work. I would say “I must leave at 5 pm to catch my carpool.” No one ever complained. We just got stuff done by 5pm. The carpool schedule limited the workday, not the other way around.
Tip #7: Reconsider That Commute
Think about this: Your 30-minute commute is taking up 6 work-weeks of time each year. That’s a month and a half! And it’s coming out of your personal time, not your work time. Move closer, work from home, or find a way to do something useful as you drive, such as have your cell phone read your work email to you.