What’s Your Idea of Work Life Balance?
Regardless of your definition, work life balance importance has never been more imperative as it is these days. The increase in remote work, longer hours for many of us, and working parents trying to manage at home learning for their children have contributed to mental health challenges for leaders and their staff. Many of us have learned to power through, push on to get the job done (sometimes at all costs). Maybe this strategy has worked in the past, but many people have reached a breaking point… physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.
What are the Five Steps to Working Life Balance?
- Revisit What Matters.
The meaning of work life balance varies from person to person. What counts is your definition, which sometimes only emerges when you recognize you’re out of balance in your life.
This step involves getting down to brass tacks (aka Immediate Practical Importance!) – taking a deep, non-judging look at what truly matters to you. Is it maintaining strong, healthy relationships with your loved ones? Is it eating well? How about getting enough sleep? Is it being calm and less reactive? Is it talking a morning walk?
- Redefine Your Scope.
Someone once said, you can do it all… just not all at the same time. Do you want to do all of it and not as well ~OR~ some of it and very well? Once you’ve identified what matters most to you, this step is to prioritize what matters most in your life. Make the choice – first, second, third… and let go of the ones that matter, but matter less right now. Brass tacks – immediate practical importance.
- Reestablish Your Boundaries.
Many of us are working from home, which makes taking time away from work a challenge. Try stepping away for lunch breaks, a walk outside, a dance around the living room, or some other activity that will put some bookends around your work. Stop reading work emails day and night. Bookends.
Protect your priorities. Saying yes to important areas (or activities) of your life is crucial, and just as important is to protect your priorities. Make an agreement with yourself – review and renew the contract on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, yearly). Are these still what matters most to you? If not, update your list and prioritize.
- Refine Your Daily Practices
According to this Harvard Business Review article, work life balance is a cycle, not an achievement. In other words, constant course corrections are part of maintaining a healthy relationship between your time and energy. Here’s another great article from HBR by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy that’s still spot on: Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.
What activities (and thoughts) in your daily life align with what you say really matters to you? Spend a week, reflect back on that week and do an inventory. What did you do and which of your top 3 priorities do the activities map to? Great – keep those! Which don’t map over? Hmmm – drop those? By staying in alignment with what matters, your energy will most probably elevate. You’ll get a boost from affirming and aligning.
- Refresh as Needed.
Sometimes you just need to go off the grid. By this, we mean to step away from your day-to-day and infuse free time, quality time, even vacation time. In the midst of the current global pandemic, this last one might require some creativity. Vacation might mean taking a drive up the coast, finding a great camping spot to soak in the majesty of nature, and even doing a staycation at a local hotel.
Refresh to reset could mean taking a bubble bath, allowing yourself to take the day off, curling up with a great book, or watching your favorite movies. Permission, not perfection. Refresh is in the allowing.