“I don’t believe in work life balance.”
It’s a phrase I’m hearing business leaders say more frequently and, I must admit, it bothers me.
The line between work and home has undoubtedly blurred, but in our always-on world, balance is more important than ever.
When you scratch the surface, the boss isn’t necessarily advocating that you always need to be working to be successful. But many professionals, already swamped, don’t get beyond that headline. And, as we know, headlines have a way of taking a hold.
There’s a reason the government banned people from using their mobiles whilst driving – people can’t focus well on two things at once. Yet many professionals I coach continuously bleed work into their personal life, distracting them from story-time, socialising and even sleep. The “switch off” struggle reaches far beyond those I coach.
'28% of senior leaders said they found it difficult to fulfil personal commitments, with 29% saying the reason for that was the amount of time they spent working’.
Yes, we need to be fulfilled professionally, but we also need personal fulfilment. When one routinely sabotages the other things get messy, impacting our performance at home AND work.
So, in this National Work Life week, I’m sharing a tip each day to help professionals achieve a better work life ‘balance’.
Be present. If you don't like where you are, extract yourself. If you do, be present – especially with your partner and kids. It takes effort but if you don’t do it, you’re not listening, you’re not learning and you’re not in real conversation.
Acceptance. There’s always going to be more work than time. Accept that you can’t do it all and that not everything will go your way. Prioritise the important over the urgent. Stop dwelling on what’s happened. Focus instead on what you can do to be brilliant now.
Learn. Test your understanding, broaden your thinking, and better your ways of working, by repurposing your commute. Many CEOs read a book a week to learn something new. Here are five of my favourite books for those keen to develop themselves professionally.
Attitude. Successful professionals work hard but nobody can be at 100% all the time. Sometimes it is OK to be 80%. Modify your mindset. Some days you’ll be going like the Tesla Roadster at 250mph, but other days it’s fine to be cruising in a VW Estate with the kids in the back – you are still moving forwards.
No. Saying ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’ (especially when it encroaches on family time), usually ends badly. There’s a positive way to say no so learn how. TEDXer, William Ury, sets it out in The walk from yes to no.
Critic control. That negative voice in your head, dragging you down, is your inner critic. You’ll gain confidence and balance in all aspects of your life by getting your critic under control and into perspective.
Empathy. I hope these tips help you strike a more comfortable work life balance. Balance becomes much easier when we show others emotional intelligence and help build an empathetic culture. Give others permission to be human; share these tips, and encourage them to embrace work life balance.
National Work Life Week takes place from 7th October 2019.
Susan Room is a former corporate leader, turned professional coach. One of the rare few qualified to provide voice and executive coaching, her unique blend of experience now sees her helping others feel, look and sound confident – positively improving their professional performance and happiness at work.