Adult Achievement Unlocked: Work-Life Balance

Work = (Personal) Life. That equation isn’t always balanced. Sometimes you will find your work gets more of your attention and takes away your weekends and family time, either by a conscience decision to let it or an unconscious happenstance. On the flip side there are times in our life that our personal life becomes the center of our universe, be it a sick child or an aging parent. For many of us, one in three in fact, trying to find some middle ground of being successful at work and having healthy meaningful relationships outside of work is a struggle.

In college while studying architecture I was driven to give all my time into my studies; my semester projects would become my life. It didn’t help that my now husband, who was also studying architecture, had the same drive to dedicate all free time figuring out every minute detail. Time together during finals were walking to the print lab to get the latest revision of each of our projects or going to an art supply or home improvement store because we needed materials for a model. Fast forward 10 years later, after a wedding, a recession, a couple career changes, and two children, what we thought was so important wasn’t so important anymore. What is important to me now? Going to a job I enjoy with people who are great to work with, being able to leave my work at an office (with the occasional glance and email correspondence at home) and being able to leave early to pickup my little Kindergartener who is so excited to tell me about his day (most of the time).

A good work/life equation is different for everyone. One person’s needs and definition of success may be drastically different than another’s and it’s important to note that this equation is fluid. I’m a perfect example of this – as my life changed my work/life balance changed and I wanted to focus my free time on my family - and that’s okay! What’s important is that you know how you want to divvy up your time so that you can achieve satisfaction in all arenas of life.

Now, the real question is: how on earth do we go about achieving that satisfaction? One of my favorite quotes is from Matthew Kelly; “Work life balance is not an entitlement or benefit. Your company cannot give it to you. You have to create it for yourself”. In order to achieve that balance you have to be in control of your life. If something isn’t working, change it to get the balance you desire. Still unsure where to start? Forbes has eight great ways to achieve better work balance, here are some that resonated with me:

  • Know your company policy. Often things are done not because there’s a policy against it but that you’re too scared to ask. Flex time or working from home are great options, and if you company doesn’t have a policy explicitly against it – ask for it!
  • Communicate your needs to your boss and family. Communicate exactly what you want to each party so there are no hidden and unmet expectations. This helps create a healthy, open dialog for better relationships all around.
  • Use Technology to Your Advantage. We all love our smartphones but achieving a balance is difficult when you never really ‘unplug’. Set your notification settings to a schedule that works for you. I personally stop push notifications after 7PM because that’s when I spend time with my family.
  • Protect Your Private Time. Don’t let work interrupt time that you’ve dedicated to an activity. If you want to dedicate one hour a day to start working out, don’t let work interfere. You need those activities to stay sane in a busy world – whatever they may be.

Some quotes to Think About:

"Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices." Betsy Jacobson

“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.” Heather SchuckThe Working Mom Manifesto

"Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life." Dolly Parton