How To Dramatically Improve Work Life Balance
So here we are... in the middle of a pandemic... still. No one could have seen this coming or imagined the full impact this would have on our daily lives.
Home is work and work is home. And for those who were not used to working remotely, this poses somewhat of a problem...
BOUNDARIES & BALANCE.
Is there such thing as balance? I question this even in my own life. At any moment in our lives, we're pulled in different directions with competing priorities such as kids, partners, bills, appointments, aging parents, sick pets, home repairs, family and friends in need of love and support, you name it. And adding remote work (from home) into the mix, a demanding boss, and expanding responsibilities does not make things any better.
Lines are blurred because home is where you work and work is done from home. There are no physcial boundaries of where one ends and the other begins. Our laptops are always on. Our phones are always on. We are always connected. And there's always work to be done, whether it is for home or for business.
So how to do you draw clear lines? How do you bring balance back into your life when the lines are so blurred?
I'm going to surprise you.
In this post, you WILL NOT hear me talk about meditation, hatha yoga, deep breathing, long hot baths, tension relieving massages, mani/pedis, steam facials, long evening walks, beach lounging, bike riding, even reading, or even champagne and cocktails.
Self care is essential but this IS NOT what Work / Life Balance is all about.
Work / Life Balance is about saying NO, holding firm, and standing your ground without fear.
You heard me correctly.
It's about saying No to people and things that cross your boundaries.
So let's begin at the beginning...
Do you have boundaries?
Do you know what your boundaries are?
Have you communicated your boundaries to your collegeagues and manager?
When it comes to working remotely, what are some of the boundaries you have put in place? Successfully working remote requires defined and communicated boundaries. We're going to focus on remote working since the majority of us are still in this situation.
(Remember the summit we did on Boundaries? Pushing the Boundaries of No? more on that later.)
First, if you are one of the fortunate ones to still have a job, let's take a moment and say, Congrats! Things could be worse. It's great that your company is still thriving through this pandemic and you're chosen career is currently withstanding the ecomonic impact of job loss, shut downs, and shelter in place orders.
First things first
Determine your boundaries. These can be, working hours, availability via text or phone calls, IM messages, etc. Set your working hours. Adjust when necessary and only when necessary. Define what your boundaries are for yourself and how others interact with you. What will you accept? What will you not accept.
Communicate to your colleagues, your manager, and peers, that you have boundaries with your availability. Set expectations around contacting you before and after hours, on weekends, and days off. You're in a position right now to set the tone of your schedule and what it looks like for you. Take your breaks. Eat with your kids. Eat with your partner. Shut down when your work day is done.
There will ALWAYS be work to do. There will Always be fires to put out. There will always be priorities. There will always be lots to do. Manage it. Don't let it manage you and dictate your time and well being.
When do you 'go home'? When do you take vacation? When do you take a day off? When do you ignore those calls and texts that can wait until the next day or when you get back?
Tip: Define what constitutes as a work emergency that requires your immediate attention.
Set boundaries and stick to them. Communicate your boundaries to everyone interacting with you.
If you don't respect your own boundaries, do you expect anyone else to?
Take a breath. Set a schedule and stick to it. Do have flexibility when it's necessary but don't make it a regular occurance to give in and over extend yourself. When you find that you're always shifting, then maybe you need to take a look at what you're really doing. Maybe your schedule isn't working for you. Create a realistic schedule that WORKS.
Do you know that working remotely does not mean you need to be tied to your desk or kitchen table for 8-10 hours per day? Do you know that working remotely does not mean you need to have a meeting or attend meetings every hour of every working day?
But Jackie, you don't understand! I have to. I have things to do. I am expected to ...
I do understand. It's up to you to determine what makes sense for you. It's up to you to become efficient AND effective. You cannot do that when you're tied down to unrealistic expectations on what remote working should look like. Remote working does not mimick in office work behaviors. It cannot. Most in office work behaviors are wasteful. Be honest with yourself. How much work did you really get done in the office? How many times did you have to actually do real work when you got home? The underlying insecurities we feel with remote work takes us to the extreme some times. Some of us may have insecurities that our managers can't really 'see' what we're doing. And these insecurities tends to lend itself to what I like to call 'doing too much.'
This 'doing too much' shows up as constantly being online and sending emails and messages at all hours of the day and night. Showing up to meetings that you really do not add value to. Hosting and creating meetings that could really have been justified with an email.
I focused mainly on being out of balance with work and not giving enough time to you and your family because that's typically the case when we speak about wanting Work / Life Balance. Create the balance that makes sense to you and for you. Remember what is important to you. What are your values? Are you making decisions that align with your values?
There will inevitably be times when you have to give more attention to one area over another. And that's ok. But when it comes routine and consistent, that's when you get out of balance...
Can there be balance all the time? No.
There can be, however, a model that works for you where you're not feeling overwhelmed. A model where leaving something undone for the next day, doesn't turn into guilt, extensive rumination, and distraction. A model where taking days off and time off to be with yourself or with your partner or family does not turn into guilt, extensive rumination, and distraction.
YOU get to choose what your life looks like. YOU get to choose to design a model that works for YOU. A model that is flexible enough to be satisfying for you, your family, and work.
YOU get to be selfish.
AND YOU CAN BE SELFISH AND PRODUCTIVE AT THE SAME DAMN TIME.
Tips on improving your work / life balance:
Say NO to whatever doesn't sit well with you
Say NO to people and things that are not aligned to your boundaries
Say YES to putting yourself first
Say YES to being the best version of you no matter what that looks like
Don't ask for permission to have balance. Create it yourself.
Value your time & work
Ask for help
Reclaim your time