Sponsored by Marlin Financial:
Are eighty-hour weeks your stock in trade, staggering in the door in time for cold supper and Jimmy Fallon’s monologue, then up at the crack of dawn to do it again, and again, and again? When your family becomes strangers you only see in bits and pieces, maybe it’s time to re-think this work/home life balance thing.
Since the problem normally occurs at the end of the spectrum with too much work and not enough home, we’ll focus on that. The first thing to internalize is that, believe it or not, the world will continue to function largely the same as before, even if you only work forty-hours. Here are a handful of ways to find the balance that makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise.
The Concept of Boundaries
Boundaries are an idea common to mental health discussions. In short, it’s a limit you put on a particular relationship in your life, usually one that demands an inordinate amount of time and attention. Your job can quickly become a whip-cracking time and energy suck if you let it. Here’s a newsflash. There is always another email to answer, project to complete, or problem to solve. YOU must decide that, past a certain time, it will have to wait until tomorrow.
The interesting thing about setting a boundary like, “I go home at 5:30. No later,” is that you’re the one liable to sabotage it. Let those who need to know the new routine in on the secret and then stick to it. Before long, it’s the new normal and you get home in time to spend time with your family.
Focus on What Matters
Then there’s the old story about arriving at the end of life. Will you wish you had put more time into the office grind or built better family and friend relationships? If you said the former, might as well stop reading now. For the rest, sooner or later you realize that time is the most precious commodity in life. Absent a DeLorean like in Back to the Future, it runs away at the same rate whether you’re sleeping, talking, or typing another TPS report.
Is the corner office with a view more important than the people you love? Most people eventually arrive at the conclusion that it is not; unfortunately, three-quarters of a life might be gone before they do. Right here, right now, stop what you’re doing and think about what matters to you. Then act accordingly.
Build in Downtime
The first two concepts were a little esoteric. Think of them as things to ruminate on to force yourself to look at the broad picture. Now, let’s examine concrete ways to force yourself to comply. Here’s a good one. Build downtime into your schedule.
Most people with an out-of-whack work/home balance have a jam-packed schedule somewhere in their cell phone. Get in there with a scalpel and carve out time for bowling, a softball game, movie, date night, white water rafting, or whatever else it is you do to have fun. Once it’s in the schedule, you have to do it, right? Don’t just say you’re going to schedule something fun. Do it. Right now. We’ll wait for you.
Water cooler gossip has always been the bane of management’s existence. Somewhere along the way, however, it became the new work normal to also waste time checking social media, email, your bank balance, and getting in a quick game of Candy Crush. Cut all that stuff out and you might get your work done at a normal hour.
Same goes for home life. Are there people or activities that drain your energy and waste your time? Husbands’ and wives’ don’t count. If you consider them time wasters, you’ve got bigger problems. The bottom line is to streamline work and home activities and suddenly the day seems longer, with more time to, well, breathe.
Everybody’s got them. No one likes them. Does it feel like the few bits of downtime you are able to find transform into a huge catch-up session from the entire week prior? Here’s a tip. There are always ways to trade money for time.
Order groceries online and have them delivered. Most stores that offer this service don’t charge a fee if you order at least a $100. Hate standing in line at the post office? Order stamps online. Shop for gifts online. Don’t spend so much time making your house look perfect – lower your standards of cleanliness. It won’t kill you. Or consider hiring a housekeeper to come in once a week for ten bucks an hour.
Make lists so you can do everything at once and not have to leave the house six times over the weekend buying odds and ends. Do kids stand in the way of quality time with your significant other? It’s a real issue and a babysitter is expensive. Looking for free child care options? They do exist!
Time to Telecommute?
If you’re a top performer at your job, talk to the boss about the idea of telecommuting a few days a week. Bargain away your next raise in return for this benefit. The idea is to come from a position of strength. Explain how telecommuting will allow you to contribute even more to the company’s bottom line.
There you have it. Solid ideas to implement immediately in pursuit of reclaiming a healthy work/home life balance. What’s there to gain? How about a happier, healthier, possibly longer life with more time spent on relationships that matter and less with your nose to the proverbial grindstone.