Starting at my first job I told myself to stay strong about having a work-life balance. I wouldn’t link my work email or Slack account to my personal phone. If a task needed to be taken care of it could wait until normal business hours.
That one day that just didn’t cut it.
It was a Friday and I had more than enough hours on my time card to head home after my last meeting wrapping up around 4 pm. Once our meeting had been cleared, I suited up and made my way out of the office. Walking down the stairs leading out to my car I remembered my coworker reached out over Slack to clarify directions on a project that was shipping that following Monday.
I walked back up the stairs, opened the door, and sat at my computer to answer the question. After hitting send, I decided to go to my favorite book store to get a couple of books I’d been eyeing – deciding to “treat” myself. It didn’t dawn on me until the late evening, maybe what I had provided wasn’t enough information to complete this design. Flipping open my laptop – I went straight to Slack to find out just that, and worse; our design wasn’t going to make it to its destination when promised and it was ALL my fault.
Panicking, I responded to the question, reached out to my coworker (might I add, on A FRIDAY NIGHT) who was amazing enough to communicate whilst following through with her weekend plans.
Maybe not having easy access to my coworkers was going to be harder than I thought…. I needed to restructure my work-life balance mindset.
The Downfalls of an uneven work-life balance.
Buzzfeed News released an article talking about Millennials and Gen Z having strong work ethics. This can be good and bad. With technology taking over our lives, work becomes a daily occurrence.
You want to work remotely over the weekend? EASY.
Need to reach your boss or coworker at any time or any day? EASY.
Even want to work with companies across the world in different time zones as you? EASY.
Interruptions are done faster than a snap of your fingers (at least for me). To set the context, I am one that can’t talk and text at the same time. When I work, I need to have noise-canceling earbuds in my ears and strong coffee to keep my attention on the screen. I can’t even take a break during projects wondering if I will break my workflow by going to the bathroom or getting some more water.
Yet the second a phone buzzes we have to look. Regardless of whether this is good news, bad news or a random email advertisement creating a dire need to order cute new shows at the holiday discount – this isn’t a good habit.
At my past job opportunities, I made myself easily accessible and open whenever needed. Which by all means, you should, but to an extent. When it comes to spending quality time with your family, friends, or having a mental day, interrupting that time with work isn’t ideal – yet technology makes this so simple.
When you don’t balance your work and life efficiently you can lose control entirely. Poor time management can lead to burnout, stress, exhaustion, loss of relationships, and not even realize the last time you had fun.
How I keep my work & life balance.
1. Structure your goals and priorities.
I have this wonderful thing.. it’s called a planner, Passion Planner to be exact. If it weren’t for my planners and calendars I really don’t know where I would be in life right now. Every Sunday I sit down and write out my goals and schedule an hour by hour schedule to complete these goals and optimize time to get things done when they need to be.
Then, I have an hour by hour Google Calendar for work I fill out every Friday to make sure I know what I need to be doing the next week and what it will take to hit my deadlines.
AND I also have a whiteboard monthly calendar I hang on my wall that shows my month at a glance. From everything personal goals, work deadlines, events, or anything else I have going on in my life – it is there. Besides this, I have a blank normal whiteboard that I map out all my goals, and boxes I check off when I meet these goals. Whether that is health and fitness, budgeting, or mental goals – whatever I want to work on that month, it will be there.
2. Be aware of time spent & open up to outsourcing.
Getting a feel for where you spend most of your time and how much of it you should be spending on projects will come easily once you start planning. Realizing these metrics will give you guidance as to how much you really can accomplish on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Things, like ordering groceries for delivery, buying a well overdue pair of gym shoes online, or utilizing Amazon Prime for household supplies, can actually save you money.
When I go to the grocery store, it is a series of events and expenses; traffic to get there, the fight to find a parking spot that is over-priced, getting pushed around like a pinball machine going through the crowd, and half the time going home without getting 4 things I desperately needed and spending too much money on things I didn’t need.
Many grocery stores like Whole Foods make this simple – offering pick up or delivery options at a fairly good price.
Investing in things like this saves me time which I could be making way better use of, and money on unneeded stuff, parking, and the cost of having to go back later to get what I forgot.
3. The Four Burners Theory – don’t ever combine two burners
As the theory goes – “in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be REALLY successful, you have to cut off two.”
We all do it. We think we can cross two burners and think it will be fine, which it may be just that – fine. But you aren’t going to be FULLY successful in that area.
There are three main ways to go about this:
- Outsource burners – for instance, work is getting a little tough so you hire more employees to take away your late-night projects to spend with family or friends.
- Embrace constraints – figuring out how long it may take you to benefit from your side hustle with the understanding you only have a few hours a week to work on it.
- Season of life – life doesn’t always let you keep all four burners on all at the same time, but you will have the times when you focus on one burner more than the rest. One season you may be fully igniting your work burner and the next you may be having kids and focusing more on the family burner. It just depends where your priorities reside and how you will balance these four flames.
Finding the perfect cocktail of work-life balance can make or break your productivity. Understanding what your goals and priorities are in life will show how much time you need to be spending where and when.
What will you choose to focus on the most?
Until tomorrow –
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