01st May , 2018
Succeeding in our life-work balance constantly tests us all, with our success or failure impacting on our personal and family lives as well as our professional and business lives. This is a constant struggle and may never be perfect, but by being better aware of the importance of a reasonable balance in our lives and having some frameworks to assist us, we can reduce many of the risks of undue stress, grief or failure that may affect important relationships and work performance.
The results of poor life-work balance and a lack of success in life and/or work is easy to observe in other people but harder in ourselves. And it can also be harder to make the changes we need to shake off old behaviours and adopt new healthier approaches to improve our lives and work on business performance, even with assistance from a business coach.
Our assumptions, perceptions and attitudes may be limiting us in our pursuit of success and balance, as it often seems that career or business success is only possible at the expense of someone’s personal life. We have all encountered the workaholics that have no social life or have deteriorating family and personal relationships as a direct result of their personal lack of balance.
A classic example of assumptions impacting balance and success is where societal perception limits people to restrictive roles, such as where women are harshly criticised or pressured if they want to achieve career or business success rather than being primarily responsible for raising children and looking after the home. The same may also be the case for men who want to be primarily responsible for the children and home.
We need a shift in our perceived reality so we can optimise our career aspirations and personal goals with an emphasis on life-work balance simultaneously.
However, achievement does need constant work, and a lack of total effort may result in great disappointment. With a lack of effort, you may find your life-work balance, but at very low levels of success in either work or business and in your personal life. You would feel that this balance without success is not acceptable and also isn’t sustainable in the longer term.
So how do successful people achieve their own career or business and personal goals with balance and make it look easy?
Part of the answer is that successful life-work balance performers have awareness of what they want in life and work and are highly organised. They also have thinking frameworks, set goals, review their progress in all aspects of their life-work balance performance, and put their efforts into succeeding in all aspects of their lives.
The good thing for us all is that these high performers did not do this from day one – they had to improve their performance over a long time until their approach was ingrained in their everyday routines. They then look to push themselves further to succeed in all areas. They use feedback and listen, then incorporate improvements. They also consider their attitudes and frameworks of thinking in all areas.
Try the life-work checklist our business coaches have provided below:
Log your time doing everything for one week, including work or business related and personal activities. This data will help you understand what you spend your limited time on and where you are losing or wasting your time.
Critically reflect on what is most important to you to succeed in all areas of your work or business and life. Then prioritise these according to value to you, urgency, and what happens if you do nothing long term. Next, compare this to your time tracking and decide given your priorities which activities to start, stop, continue, increase, decrease or do differently.
Take your list of priorities and set concrete and measurable goals such as taking more holidays with your partner, brainstorming better business growth strategies, improving time delivery of projects at work, etc. You must block time into your schedule for these activities, just like you would for an important meeting or a doctor’s appointment. Then schedule time to review your progress and reassess your own performance and future priorities, objectives and targets.
Successful people plan their life and work and make every effort to achieve it by scheduling. These life-work plans schedule all aspects of their lives. This will be put into their date planner (either paper or electronic) and is how they turn their priorities and goals into reality. You need to do the same and set aside 10 to 20 minutes each day to plan your tasks and activities for each day and the evening ahead.
Set fair and realistic limits on what you will and will not do – both at work and at home. Then you must clearly communicate these boundaries to your supervisor, co-workers, partners and family. For example, commit to not working late on certain days unless there is a crisis. Additionally, set aside a time at home during which you will not check or respond to work-related emails or voice mails.
Your health should always be your top priority. You must be in good shape physically, mentally and emotionally to succeed in both your work life and your personal life.
These practices relieve stress, increase energy levels and stamina, boost mental clarity, and improve your immune system, helping to make you a happier, more engaged and more productive person.
You should also refrain from the excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, or any drugs, as these keep the body in a stressed state and cause addictive and behavioural problems.
Relationships with family, friends and loved ones are, by far, the greatest source of inner satisfaction and support. To neglect or damage these can impact badly on your whole life and work.
For example, working late happens, but it only becomes a life balance issue if it becomes the rule, not the exception. By making your personal relationships a priority, your productivity and effectiveness on the job will increase.
As much as your balance of work, health and relationships takes priority in your life-work, it is also important to schedule time for your own renewal. Indulge in at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted “you time” doing something you like. This will allow you to recharge your batteries and improve your wellbeing, which can be beneficial for your relationships and career.
Connecting with your spiritual source can also be very helpful, whether it’s your own philosophy, a belief in God or a higher power, or a deeper well within yourself. From this you can draw inspiration, guidance and strength. Setting aside a weekly day of rest can also be helpful.
Develop a mental on-off switch between work and home and establish a transitional activity between the two universes. For example, you could listen to music or books, exercise, or keep personal appointments. Schedule such activities just after normal work hours, as this will stop you from spending that extra twenty minutes at the office which can then turn into hours.
Modern thinking companies or employers can create policies and programs to facilitate life-work balance. Find out what options your business may offer in terms of flexi hours, working from home, job-sharing, or part-time employment. You may find an arrangement to work more productively, reduce stress and increase valuable personal or family time. If your business does not yet have flexible programs in place, consider suggesting one.
Use your time more efficiently by using good time-management to cut stress and save time every day. This may include using technology to become more organised with tasks, emails and voice messages, avoiding delaying decisions, and learning to say “no” to time wasters.
If you’re overwhelmed at work, set priorities and focus on clearing these first, and explain this assertively to your managers and other relationships. However, if a balanced life-work continues to elude you, engage with a business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors to help facilitate the changes you need.
Remember that a life-work balance is not an exact science and you must find your own way of successfully combining your focus on career, relationships and personal care into an integrated whole plan. This will likely change as new circumstances arise, so you must review your situation and adjust accordingly.
To implement the above strategies will take time, but changes will be incremental and have a positive and measurable impact on your life-work balance. You should start with one clear goal, achieve that, and then keep adding more one at a time. This will take a concerted effort to make the changes and maintain them.
If you commit to this quest, you can reap enormous health and quality-of-life and work benefits.
It is entirely possible for you to have a successful professional or business career and a fulfilling personal life. You need to take proactive control of your work and personal life to achieve a successful and balanced work-life.
A business coach or mentor will question your business growth strategies and goals and look at how you manage your time, methods, risks and strategy to achieve them. Your business mentor or coach can help keep you on track, giving guidance from their own experiences to help you succeed in your own life-work balance.
You must do the work yourself, but support from an excellent business coach can be immensely helpful. The business coaching professionals at International Business Mentors have deep experience in these areas. Our business coaches and mentors have been business owners themselves and are experienced with the dilemma of putting heart and soul into growing or maintaining a business, and the opposing demands of partners, children, parents and other relationships. You may not be able to achieve a perfect balance in every situation, but you can put in place procedures to move towards the successful life work balance you desire.