Everyone seems to have made some personal and professional adjustments over the past couple of years.  Now is the time to reflect and ask ourselves, “What does work/life balance mean?”

Work life balance means having time to call your own, that is free time, and guilt-free time. Work life balance is spending some time doing enjoyable stress-free activities.  Recalibrate your professional and personal life by scheduling time for yourself to recharge, so you have the resilience to deal with difficult, unavoidable issues in your life.

Good work life balance is a different configuration for every individual.  Everyone has unique needs, wants, and desires.  You need to formulate your own combination of activities that are fulfilling and inspiring.

There are three tests of time that support good work life balance:  Test of Necessity, Test of Appropriateness, and the Test of Efficiency.  Apply these tests in that order.

The Test of Necessity is stopping yourself before doing a task and asking, “Is this really necessary or not?”  Ask yourself, if you don’t do it, will your customer notice, will your competition notice, will your coworker notice, or will your job performance suffer?  If not, then don’t do it.  If, however, it is necessary, then move to the next test.

The Test of Appropriateness is the consideration of “who” should do this task.  Who would be the appropriate person who has the right attitude, knowledge, and skill to effectively perform the task?   Do you have someone inside your organization that possesses that talent?  Do you need to look outside your organization for the appropriate source?

Finally, there is the Test of Efficiency.  How can you improve the process to be more efficient?  What steps can be streamlined?  What technology can be unleashed to enhance efficiency and effectiveness?  How can you do it better and faster?

I suggest these five steps for good work life balance.

One:  Identify the tasks and activities in which you have total control and tasks and activities in which you have some control and renegotiate those commitments.

Two:  Establish responsibilities and identify who is going to do what and when in your professional and personal sphere.

Three:  Eliminate unnecessary activities and sever obsolete or unfulfilling activities that are habitual, but not required.

Four:  Eliminate any inappropriate activities by reviewing your roles and responsibilities and by identifying those that no longer apply.

Five:  Plan your life annually, monthly, weekly, then daily.  This will create alignment and congruence in your life that makes decision making a snap.

Researchers have found that placing exaggerated importance or total focus in just one area of life may lead to a sense of frustration, stress, and lack of fulfillment which is tough on mental health.  Poor work life balance can lead to chronic stress and mental health issues.

Many people believe achieving good work life balance means spending less time at work, working fewer days a week, flexible work schedules, and having more personal time.  Yes, that’s part of the formula for achieving work life balance.  Spending less time at work may be a sign of efficiency and clarity.  Consider your professional and personal needs and required time at work; maybe working fewer days a week or taking long weekends or would be more effective at managing stress than long vacations.

Employers could develop work life balance policies, like flexible work schedules, to demonstrate to employees that the organization really does care about them personally, not just professionally.  Of course, having more personal time is the goal, so people can start enjoying the fruits of their labor; achieving work life balance, and sidestepping chronic stress.

Often people ask me, “How can professionals who are creating work life balance find the right harmony between their work and personal commitments?

Keep just one calendar and just one to-do list with everything on it.  The context will give you guidance on whether you can or should take on anything else.  Build space in your timelines before and after meetings and phone calls.  Having some time open before a meeting or phone call to focus will help you prepare and having some time afterward to process the conversations and decisions will allow you to implement ideas right away.

Employers can support employees coping with stress to balance their professional and personal lives by being thoughtful and including staff in discussions concerning how long tasks and projects really will take.  Employers can help employees recognize and measure the limits of each day, assist staff with the delegation of tasks, and provide training on time management.  Experienced leaders can provide insight to forecast whether new requests will or will not fit the current level of workload.  Employers can support employees’ mental health and good work life balance by involving staff in planning by assisting with time estimating based upon the input from the people that have performed the tasks in the past.

It is crucial for you to have many practical strategies to manage time, to relieve stress, and to create the work life balance that fits your professional and personal temperament.  It is easy to see the difference between good work life balance and poor work life balaace on paper, but is something else to see it in real life situations and demands.

You have 168 hours a week at your disposal for achieving work life balance.  Every week gives you a chance to recognize opportunities and modify your behaviors for creating work life balance.  Pay attention to your work and personal time commitments.  Strive to balance time at work and personal time to create a personal life and a professional life that would be worthy to appear as an article in the Harvard Business Review.  It is your ability to make decisions that gives you the ability to control your life.

If you need to find a motivational keynote speaker, plenary speaker, breakout speaker, concurrent session speaker, seminar leader, or workshop facilitator who can deliver in-person, virtually, or via prerecorded session, Kit Welchlin earned an M.A. (Master of Arts Degree in Speech Communication), the CSP (Certified Speaking Professional Designation from the National Speakers Association), the CVP (Certified Virtual Presenter Designation from eSpeakers), and is a nationally recognized professional motivational speaker and author and can be found at www.welchlin.com.