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Create a Better Work-Life Balance: Advice from a (former?) Workaholic

Tip 1 Family comes first and foremost

Tip 1: Family comes first and foremost (mom and me at the hog roast)

What’s the right work-life balance? Guess what — there is no right answer. Everyone who is driven struggles with it — don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Who has had their boss, significant other, close friend(s) sit you down to share their concerns that you may be burning the candle at both ends? They highly recommended that you should spend more time on X, Y and Z. (I’m raising my hand as I type this.) Guilty as charged. So what do you do about it?

For me, it is a good reality check to re-evaluate: how am I spending my time? It’s easy to try to justify why you spend your time the way you do. Try the best you can to be objective. Hard to do, I know!

Some questions to ask yourself:

1. What could I be doing if I wasn’t working? The beauty of this question is ANYTHING you want!

2. Will that extra hour make or break the output? An hour easily turns into an hour and a half …  two.

3. What’s the harm in finishing up tomorrow morning? 10PM and 6AM are equivalent.

4. Will it serve you best to take a break and start again with fresh eyes? Yes, fewer mistakes will happen.

5. Does it accomplish what you sought out to do? It does not need to be perfect.

6. Who can help you? Don’t feel you need to take everything on yourself.

During my career, I have not always been conscious of how I divided my time. I have always found work as a fun challenge and have naturally gravitated to taking on more. This can be a dangerous path.

Below is a pretty fair diagram that depicts how I spent my time when I was at my worst work-life balance. I worked 60+ hours at my day job, added in a good amount of travel for work and was obtaining my MBA full time at night. I still reflect back and wonder how I was able to manage all of those at once. On the flip-side, it reminds me of how much I am able to handle if I put my mind to it.

work-life out of balance

I’ll never claim to have all the answers. I am still a work in progress myself. Below are my top 3 tips to create a better work-life balance:

1. Family comes first and foremost. Make time for the important things. Without work, they are what you have left. Cherish them.
2. Find an activity just for you. Leave the office early once a week, coordinate for the kids to be picked up — go do something you enjoy. ‘Me’ time is important.
3. Have a reoccurring friend activity. Go out for a drink, dinner, have a phone date, Facetime, etc. It’s essential to put time into those relationships.

Tip 3 Have a reoccuring friend activity - like a hog roastThere is the one time a year that I am able to delineate work and life the best. The neighborhood that I grew up in hosts a neighborhood party each summer. It’s a time that everyone travels back; we roast a pig, relax and enjoy each other’s company. I look forward to this every year. Once Friday afternoon hits, my phone and laptop stay inside, tucked away. I am able spend quality time to catch up with my parents and visit with their neighbors and new folks that have joined the neighborhood family. After that weekend, I feel so reinvigorated and ready to take on the world again. It’s a great reminder that it’s OK to take a break from work — it’s going to be waiting for me when I get back. Note to self: I need to find more activities like this!!

How do you manage your time? Any sound advice that you have received that you can share? Do you have a relatable time of when you balance work-life the best?

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