People often ask me, “What is your idea of work and life balance?” My definition for work and life balance is when an individual allocates a certain amount of time to support their physical needs, social needs, mental needs, and spiritual needs. When in balance, a person feels fulfillment, passion, and a spirit of adventure.
Then people often ask, “What are the five steps to work and life balance?” This is what I think are the five steps to work and life balance:
One: Write objectives. Develop and write clear, measurable, attainable, and specific objectives. Make sure these objectives are very descriptive and specific; leaving no room for confusion. Make sure the measurement of activities is simple and easy to acquire and interpret like how many, what percentages, what units, or what ratios. Make sure the objectives are action-oriented. Don’t leave the scene of a decision without taking action by making a phone call, sending an email, or scheduling a meeting. Make sure the objectives are attainable and realistic. You must have a belief that you have a fighting chance to succeed. Finally, make sure you know when you are going to start, stop, measure progress and make adjustments.
Two: Keep a master task list. Identify the tasks that need to be done to achieve your objectives. A master task list will protect tasks and important issues from falling through the cracks and will aid you in keeping track of progress.
Three: Prioritize. Put first things first to achieve your objectives. Determine importance and urgency. Identify deadline-driven timelines to prevent penalties or setbacks. Consider communication frequency and time commitment. Consider a virtual meeting rather than traveling long distances. Consider sending an email rather than getting involved in a long phone conversation. Consider how you can modify or change the communication channel to save time and still provide clear and concise communication.
Four: Manage distractions. Identify and eliminate interruptions, distractions, and obstacles that often keep you from achieving work life balance. Consider how you could limit phone interruptions politely. Prepare a checklist before you make the call or leave a well-prepared voice mail message. Have strategies for handling unexpected visitors, whether they are coworkers or customers. Consider how you can minimize paperwork and create templates to make it easy to craft routine correspondence.
Five: Take action. Develop a plan to achieve your objectives. Identify what you need to do and get busy doing it! Break down larger tasks into maybe a dozen or so small steps to move things along. Take a few minutes to identify the people, groups, and organizations you will need to coordinate resources and communication.
You might be wondering what is work and life balance and why is it important?
The benefits of prioritizing work-life balance include increased productivity, higher worker engagement, reduced stress and more time to devote to leisure activities. Employees who can find a healthy balance between work and life are generally happier, healthier, more focused, and less likely to miss work.
Some people question whether it is bad to ask about work and life balance. I say absolutely not. Open and honest communication with your managers and coworkers is the key. Often coworkers, managers, and leaders are unaware of the demands they are putting on you. You need to be vulnerable enough, yet confident enough, to ask for assistance in prioritizing or shedding tasks. Anticipate the busy times of the year and be prepared to negotiate quickness, quantity, and quality, whether it’s products, service, communication, or availability.
Work life balance is somewhat a mystery for some people. They ask me, “What does a health work life balance look like?
One: Create a morning routine. Whenever you have a morning that goes smoothly, recount what you did that made it so easy. Replicate those behaviors and fine-tine regular activities to create efficiencies.
Two: Create and stick to a schedule. It is important to plan about 70% of your day to stay on track with your most important objectives and allow for emergencies or others’ inability to plan.
Three: Plan annually, then monthly, then weekly, and then daily. Make sure you record all of those save the date requests. Plan start times, morning breaks, lunch times, afternoon breaks, virtual meetings, and conference calls.
Four: Create an end-of-the-day routine. Set up a clocking-out routine about thirty minutes before the end of the day, review your to-do list or master task list, send final emails, make a note of unfinished tasks, write a few notes, review information, and identify first task of the next day.
Fifth: Create a night-time routine. Experiment with a number of strategies that help you wind down, relax, and fall asleep quickly. Set out what you will wear the next day.
People wonder, “How does achieving work life balance promote positive mental health and help people coping with stress?”
When it comes to positive mental health, good work life balance removes the feelings of being overwhelmed, defeated, worn out, out of control, hopeless, and helplessness. Plan your time commitments realistically. Once you do the math, it becomes easier to delegate, say no, and resist pressure from others. State in advance whether new requests will or will not fit into your schedule.
Simplify, simplify, simplify everything you can think of: banking, babysitting, daycare, and house cleaning. Simplification creates peace.
Good work/life balance often includes flexible hours, working from home, and taking time away from work, but there is more to it than that. We’re all victims of letting work stress slide into our personal lives, and over time it could have a negative impact on our family and other social relationships. So, work at leaving work at work. Make a list of things to do tomorrow and unplug. Find a way to make your commute home more enjoyable by taking a road less traveled and see something new or by listening to a different radio station or podcast for some fresh thoughts.
Work encroaches on personal time; being expected to answer work phone calls or emails after hours, impacts your personal life. Sure, you probably need to be connected through technology for your work, but be in control of it, or at least negotiate it, rather than being a victim of it. Schedule some time off the technology and go on a social media diet.
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.