Balancing Work with Life

We all have our work-life balance stories and challenges, especially as parents. Wikipedia defines it as “proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation)”.  It’s an easy topic to discuss, but a difficult dynamic to manage, especially as a boss – you’re managing your own as well as your team’s.

When confronted with an employee relations issue involving an otherwise good employee gone sour, seasoned HR professionals will enquire about the home environment. It’s a delicate subject, but divorces, child-rearing, illnesses, and other major life challenges will likely spill-over into the workplace, affecting not only the individual but other team members.

There’s plenty of advice on the web for dealing with work-life balance (some links below), but here’s another way of looking at it. The balance is constantly changing any time more “weight” is added or subtracted on either side of the scale. It could be one of the above “Life” issues, or on the “Work” side, a new project, financial hardship, a bad boss, etc.

Worklife scale

Having dealt with many imbalance issues, both personally and as a coach, here is some simple advice if you feel you’re off-balance:

  1.  Isolate the “weights” that are causing the imbalance
  2. Try to lessen those weights &/or add to the other side
  3. Remember that improving communications always helps

Some examples:

–          your boss is non-communicative or has a poor management style – try to adjust your own communications to improve it &/or learn not to take the interactions personally; occasionally telecommute if your company allows it and you think it will help.

–          You’re going through a divorce – seek counseling from others (but try to keep it out of work); distract yourself in a new project or hobby; get through the process as quickly as possible.

–          There’s a new project that requires a lot more extra time – prioritize the “Life” activities and cut into those that are low; ensure the proper resources are available to get the job done.

This may seem simplistic for what is usually a complicated challenge, but we sometimes tend to over-complicate matters. As a boss, be considerate of your staff’s demands on both sides of the scale, communicate with them, and try to assist in countering some of the weights that you can control.

 

Five Tips for Better Work-life Balance (WebMD)

Definition, historical data, and overall good background information (Wikipedia)

When the Work-Life Scales Are Unequal (NY Times article)

Ten Ways to Improve Work-life Balance (Inc.)

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