In an ideal world, we’d all have our work balanced perfectly with our personal life. If we had to go out of town for a business conference, we’d get the same amount of time off to spend with our friends and family, or just decompressing from that work trip.
Unfortunately, there’s no way that can happen in our heavy capitalist society. Always have to be earning that dollar in order to make it. And with that being said, one area will always suffer more than the other. Can you take a guess which one?
The good news is, there are ways to make the suffering of an imbalanced work/life situation less painful. Below are a few ways you can tip the scale into a more favorable alignment.
Always schedule things.
Work seems to commonly follow all of us home at one point or another. It’s nearly impossible to get away from, especially if you’re in a position of leadership or management. And every week, it happens a little bit more and more. Each day, it seems the hours spent on personal activities get smaller and smaller. To properly avoid this encroachment, schedule out your personal activities or pick up hobbies that are allotted a specific time—like coaching or a cooking class.
When things are written in stone, people are far more likely to stop the work they’re doing so they can show up to their scheduled activity on time. There’s a certain level of anxiety and expectation attached to a planned event, making it just as important as that work assignment. And coworkers are much less likely to ask you to stay late to finish a project if they know you have yoga at 5:30PM.
If you’re in management or a leadership position, make sure to let those underneath you know that you have a standing appointment each Wednesday (or whenever you’ve scheduled a personal activity). Employees are much less likely to call or text you with questions if they know they’ll be interrupting you.
The more you schedule out pre-planned personal activities for out-of-work hours, the more space you’ll be creating for yourself to disengage and not be at the beck and call of coworkers, bosses, or peers.
Tell others and create accountability.
If you think to yourself, “Steve, tonight you’re going home at five o’clock and watching a movie with your wife,” then you may or may not actually do that. But, if you verbally tell your wife you’re coming home at five o’clock, then you’ve exponentially increased your chances of leaving work at five. Why? Because you don’t want to let your wife down.
When you tell others your plans, goals, or desires, a strange thing happens. You actually do it. Much like scheduling your personal activities, there is an expectation attached to it. In this instance, it’s not just your expectation but the expectation of people who really matter to you.
Write to-do lists and stick to them.
Oftentimes, your work/life balance starts to feel entirely unfair when you have too many work activities going on at once. Sometimes—not all the time—this can easily be solved with a proper to-do list.
The simple act of writing down what you need to do and then allotting time to each task can present you with the bigger picture. How overwhelmed are you really? And from there, you can determine what actually needs to be done by the end of today, or by tomorrow, or by the end of the week. This allows you to properly pace out your activities to give you a more realistic work day—one that ideally won’t creep into your personal life too much.