When I say I help individuals achieve a better work-life balance…
When I say I help individuals achieve a better work-life balance, the response I usually get is, “Help me!”
Work-life balance can sometimes seem like an elusive ideal. When the pressure is on at work, and deadlines are tight, it can feel like we’re stuck in a work-work balance. So what can we do about it? The reality is if your workload is beginning to overwhelm you already, it is almost too late. The time to think about work-life balance is when workloads are normal and colleagues are not feeling stressed.
The Two Hats Of Work-Life Balance
You need to approach work-life balance with two hats on – the CEO’s and your own selfish one!
Work-Life Balance At A Corporate Level
At a corporate level, effective work-life balance solutions need collaborative people. What are you willing to do to ensure that your work life balance needs do not affect your colleagues? Flexibility is key. Organisations have needs too. They need to deliver products, provide customer service and meet demands. Managers focus on delivery and aggressive performance targets. So, if you have a “work-life balance request” it can feel like you have a big label stuck to your head saying; “I AM YOUR PROBLEM”. We need to remove that immediate impression by thinking more like the boss. Can we find a solution that works, with a commitment to review it later if circumstances change? We have worked with organisations as diverse as local authorities and multi national retail giants to make this work. So we know the benefits for all concerned. Typically, increased retention, improved morale and enhanced teamwork.
Work-Life Balance On A Personal Level
On a personal level, we need to be honest with ourselves. We need to see beyond the immediate problem and think more strategically. So, how do we go about achieving a better work-life balance? Well, the best place to start is by answering a couple of questions. The first is a question many of us usually don’t spend much time thinking about – what exactly do you want out of life? What do you hope to have achieved in your lifetime? We often call this the “tombstone test”. What would you like yours to read? To help you access parts of your sub-conscious mind, I’d like you to imagine for a few minutes that time and money are no object. Grab a piece of paper and start writing, just let your mind wander. If you are familiar with Mind Mapping, use this excellent tool to plot your thoughts. Write down as many things as you can within just a few minutes. List all the things you would like to do, have, experience, learn or share with loved ones if you had a limitless supply of both time and money?
The purpose of this task is to remind ourselves of some of our dreams. “Real life” has a habit of burying these under data and trivia. Once you’ve written them down, you can now start working on them as goals. Don’t resist this process, my favourite definition of a goal is a dream with a date on it. So, get one or two dreams down on the page, put a date on them and transform them into a goal. These goals will motivate us to make some fundamental changes in our lives.
Of course, this whole process has a secondary motive – to give you a reason to work on things other than your “day job”. Analysis of individuals working extra hours shows that many of them do so because they don’t have a good reason to go home! Of course, that’s fine if your job is your life’s work and there is nothing else that fires you up more. But, if that is not the case for you, then this exercise is, hopefully, just the start of a new adventure. Don’t worry that these non-work goals will detract from your output and effectiveness in work. The opposite is true. Individuals with reasons to live beyond their work exude more energy, happiness and drive when they are in work. You will be doing your company a favour!
Working To Achieve Work-Life Balance Is A Constant Activity
In summary, working to achieve work-life balance is a constant activity. It involves great teamwork, devolved leadership and a truckload of personal responsibility. But, if you have applied all that and your company still refuses to work with you, you always have the final choice. The ultimate control is yours. You can leave and find a more forward looking employer. You can change your lifestyle completely. Whatever you decide, it’s your life. Spend your lifetime wisely. Focus on your objectives; no one else is remotely interested in meeting them for you.
If work-life balance is an issue for you or your colleagues, click here to join us at THE CHANGE MAKER SUMMIT. Simon Phillips will be talking to “resilience-buildin” guru, Vanda North about some simple strategies that can transform your life.