Figuring out work-life balance
While work-life balance has always been important, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the human need to step away and recharge has increasingly become a topic of discussion. Many professionals at all levels have reported working even longer hours since moving to remote work arrangements—when the office and home become a single location, stepping away can become even harder.
While many have spent more time than ever working because their home is now their office, it is important to create time and space away from work. One way to do that is to clearly document and prioritize what needs to be done this week. Assess how much time is needed to accomplish these tasks. Clear your calendar of any items that do not help you achieve your goals for the week.
Learn how to fuel your peak performance and be able to do in one hour what could have taken hours to do. It starts with having clear goals, eliminating distractions, having curiosity regarding the task you are undertaking, and making sure that your challenges are in line with your skill level. This will boost your productivity and creativity while giving you more time to enjoy life.
Prioritizing by outcome instead of by time is an effective way to trim down the workweek. Check in with yourself regularly on how the task that you are doing is helping your company reach its desired outcome for the week—if you are unclear on how it is or if the answer is that it isn’t, don’t do it. It’s very simple to say but very difficult to put into practice!
Being flexible is a great way to let your team figure out the most constructive way to manage their time. Everyone understands their expectations, and as long as your clients’ needs are being met and you continue to grow, don’t limit employees’ time away from the office. Each person understands what works best for them when it comes to work-life balance.
It’s essential to trust your employees to make their own decisions. Most of the time, they know what they’re doing better than a leader because they’re closer to the problem and have a better idea of what’s possible for a solution. Letting go of the reins and trusting your employees to make good decisions allows them to have the chance to grow and prove themselves.
Shorten meetings to 45 minutes and immediately get back 25 percent of your day. Another tactic: Meetings should be for discussion or decision making. Information sharing can be handled offline and should not take up time during your day. Start your workday earlier and stick to a schedule.
Whether you and your team are working exclusively from home or showing up to an office building one or more days a week, developing a healthy work-life balance is essential for everyone’s mental and physical health. Activities like resting, happy hour, or going for a walk should be encouraged and praised out loud. People who rest regularly are better thinkers and more pleasant co-workers.
Encourage employees to take time off from day one. Build a culture where employees don’t feel the need to check their emails outside of work hours. Also, institute ‘Friends and Family’ day, which is an optional but highly encouraged day off every month. Encourage team members to use this day to go do something fun, get some errands done, or engage in self-care.
Establishing work-life boundaries is neither a matter of corporate policy or personal responsibility, but should be a shared commitment by both employees and employers. Unless organizations commit to policies that make sure workers feel confident being truly “off the clock”, employees need to decide between establishing their boundaries or allowing work to disrupt their down time.
Employers can set policies, they can lead by example when creating work-life balance, and then there’s that honest and open communication that employees can give their employers for what they need personally to create work-life balance. Many organizations boast of their work-life balance, but setting policies that encourage that divide is only effective if they’re followed by leaders.
Leaders need to lead by example to create a work environment that has healthy boundaries, space and time to recharge, and open communication when tough topics need to be addressed. Perhaps the easiest way to do that is to take a vacation and truly disconnect and recharge, or be open (and unapologetic) on prioritizing home events as much as work events.
Rather than target a delicate work-life equilibrium, which requires constant perfection, change the formula. Fuse the personal and professional spheres of your life into a peaceful coexistence. Integration occurs when your highest priorities and responsibilities blend into a cohesive whole.