Is your work-life balance a bit lopsided? Are work demands keeping you from being at your best with family, or is your work performance suffering because of life circumstances or repeated emergencies? While we often talk about work-life balance in terms of making sure we protect family life in the age of 24/7-connectivity, sometimes, work-life balance means that work needs to come first.
Here are some activities to help assess and adjust your activities to maintain the right level of work-life balance over time:
- Honestly assess your work performance. How are you doing at work? If your performance is always spectacular at the cost of your home life, consider taking your “foot off the gas.” If your work performance is suffering, consider what adjustments are needed to make targeted improvements.
- Assess balance needs on a weekly or monthly basis. At the beginning of a week or month (or both), pause and look at the full work-life picture. Should you plan for heightened workloads due to project deadlines (e.g., end of fiscal year, end of sales quarters, product delivery dates)? Do you have greater than unusual demands at home (e.g., more doctor appointments than usual, holiday visitors, or back-to-school nights)? To the extent possible, try to balance “surge demands” at work and home to avoid conflicts. For example, start your monthly reports early in the month to avoid later crunch times; schedule doctor appointments for days when there are generally fewer meetings; and evaluate your project timelines for reasonableness against holiday windows.
- Ask for help – in both work and life. We all need support, at work and home. At work, you may be able to delegate to others, or to exchange tasks with another person to balance out the load. At home, you may need to re-negotiate appointments or activity coverage with a partner, or seek outside help to meet demands. Maybe this means setting aside time for a babysitter, or getting the family to help with cleaning and laundry activities when you would normally just handle it. Asking for help is a sign of strength – it engages others in your different worlds, building trust and confidence in both realms.
Work-life balance is rarely a static state, but engaging in these activities may help you maximize your impact, while also building the relationships that make life worthwhile.