“I put in 110 percent at work and overtime almost every day and have reputation as a hard worker. Now that my kids are out for the summer, I’d like to be better and balancing my work time and family time. Any suggestions?” — Pia from Santa Cruz, CA
With the demands of personal and professional life, sometimes life can be overwhelming. When kids are home for the summer, it can be even more challenging managing schedules. How can you find balance at work and at home? Here are some points to consider:
Work/life balance is a conscious decision. Maintaining a balance between work and life takes effort and doesn’t happen automatically. Make an effort to leave work in the office, physically and mentally. Decide when you are shutting off and then actually do it.
Be more productive at what you do. Your time is your most valuable resource. Take a step back and examine if your efforts are focused on the right projects. Ask yourself, “Am I working on the most important thing I can be working on?” Find ways to be more efficient such as making a to-do list each morning and then updating it in the afternoon.
Be more organized at work. It’s easy to often bring work home because we constantly close out the day in the middle of a project or task, which makes it difficult to leave it behind. Set up tasks on your calendar to finish projects or get to a stopping point each day, and prioritize what’s most important.
Re-evaluate your schedule. If you are trying to find more family time during the summer months, plan ahead with your vacation time so you have that time carved out. Another option is to negotiate flex time or a reduced schedule with your supervisor during the summer months. If you are an hourly worker see if you can trade shifts with a co-worker so you can attend a sporting event, etc., with your family.
Learn to say no. Sometimes saying no to one thing opens the door to saying yes to something else. Improve your delegation and time-management skills. Saying no to tasks that are non-essential will allow you to handle tasks that have a higher priority.
Energy and exercise. Being tired robs you of energy; get a good night’s rest of interrupted sleep if possible. While fitting time into your schedule to exercise may seem difficult, you’ll find yourself with more energy to be productive at work and home with a regular routine.
No one is perfect. There is no perfect, one-size fits all, balance you should be striving for. The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different priorities and different lives.
The key to managing balance is a continuous process as your family and work life change. Periodically step back and examine your priorities and make changes if necessary to make sure you’re keeping on track with the things you value most.