This is the last of four articles that share what I learned from my informal poll on tasks, goals and balance (first article, second article, third article). The exact form of the questions changed slightly as calls were made, but in general it was three questions and some follow up questions after each. This article is about the last question.
Ahhh, the work – life balance question. How does one find and maintain a balance? I heard some version of the following three answers:
- I don’t have it and with my business it’s just not possible right now.
- I keep boundaries.
- I schedule it.
Now, of those that didn’t fall into to the “I don’t have it” group, most thought their work – life balance could use improvement, but seemed that, in general, they were content with how things were going. Meaning, they thought it could be a bit better, but weren’t going to make any changes right now.
The boundaries I heard about most revolved around when kids get home from school. So all work activities must be done by then and will not be picked up again until the next day (and that takes more discipline on some days than others). And a lot of people said that they don’t like to check or answer their smart phones after a certain time of day.
Scheduling the personal or family time looked a bit different for everyone. Some people said that they make sure all the special events are in their calendar so they don’t miss a family birthday party or child’s recital. Or they just put some time on the calendar for themselves or their family.
At least one person said that they tend to work long hours for weeks a time. She pays attention to when she’s starting to get burned out and takes a day off.
A couple of the guys I talked to said that their wife helps a lot with this, or they’d probably spend a lot more time at work without realizing it.
So, what works for the people who are content with their work-life balance?
- Set boundaries. Many people had clear boundaries around the times and days they do and do not work.
- Schedule it. Some people I talked with scheduled special personal events, just like they schedule business appointments.
My final thought (for right now) on this topic: work-life balance is what you define it as. If you enjoy spending lots of time working, by all means, do it! Just because someone else doesn’t enjoy it, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Just check-in with yourself occasionally to make sure that if you’re spending a lot of time working that you’re not avoiding something at home. And on the flip side, if you’re spending a lot of time not working, check that you’re not avoiding something in your business.
So, what can you do, or do you do, to create the work-life balance you want?