How to Find Work-Life Balance When You’re Working Around the Clock
It may seem impossible as the leader of your company. You’re the one everyone looks up to for direction. With everyone needing you all the time, you barely have a spare moment with your family, let alone by yourself.
A survey by Harvard Business School showed that at least 50+ hours a week has been spent by 94 percent of service professionals. However, there were multiple studies that state that when we lose work-life balance, everyone suffers the consequences.
This dream of some sort of work/life balance feels unattainable and so completely out of reach. But if you consider the following tips, it doesn’t have to be.
1. Play to Your Strengths
You can’t possibly be all things to all people. If you tried that, you wouldn’t be a very good fit for upper management or the C-suite. If you’re trying to do it all, stop. Instead, do what you’re good at and delegate the rest. That’s why you hired the team you did. They’re there to help you. They have strengths, too. A good manager will figure out how to play on others’ strengths, too, so that everyone does their job the most effective.
2. Prioritize Your Time
Your tasks should fall into four categories. This is not a new idea, and I didn’t come up with it. But a lot of people who speak on time management will suggest the following categories in order of importance:
- Urgent and important
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Neither urgent nor important
The first category of tasks should be taken care of right away. The second can wait, but you must determine how long it can wait. If you keep pushing it back, it won’t get done. The third category is a fire to fool you. It’s not a roadblock to getting real work done. It’s only disguised as one. A great manager will be able to tell the difference. The fourth category can likely wait 24 hours or more. Don’t waste your time on these tasks if you don’t need to. Especially if you’ve designated some time to take a break and focus on family or yourself.
3. Know When You’re the Most Productive
If you’re a morning person, get up with your alarm. In a 2019 study, 28 percent of workers start their day before 8:30 in the morning while 5 percent of workers start their day before 7 in the morning. If you are more focused after lunch, set an alarm for that, too. Get to work on the hardest tasks when your alarm goes off. These tasks will need your complete concentration and focus, so do them when you’re the most productive. You’ll be able to accomplish more every day by buckling down when you’re in the right mindset. If you focus best in the morning, don’t postpone tough tasks until you’re too tired. Vice versa, if you get more done in the afternoon, don’t try to dive in before your mind and body are ready.
Based on the RescueTime survey, the average productive task time per day for workers is 2 hours and 48 minutes or 14 hours and 8 minutes a week. While the rest of the day is being spent on neutral activities which can take 1 hour and 6 minutes and distracting activities which can also take 1 hour and 2 minutes. As a matter of fact, on average, 21 percent of the work hours were spent on entertainment, news, and social media.
4. Schedule Personal Time
Everyone needs ‘me’ time. Even you. You’re busy, but that’s no excuse for not taking time out to re-energize. The reason you’re in the position you’re in is that you are dedicated and you like to pour yourself into work. That’s great, but there’s a time and place. If you don’t take time for yourself, your family and your health will suffer. Your exhaustion will trickle down to your subordinates and your company will suffer, too. If you’re looking for a fun way to wind down for the day with your family, find a fun activity you can all do together. A sport like basketball is a great way to work off some energy, make memories, and perhaps enjoy the weather.
5. Set Work Hours and Stick to Them
There is a time and a place for everything. You likely work around the clock, and that’s okay. However, you need to eat, you need to sleep, and you need to build and maintain relationships. You can still work a lot, even if you pencil in a few hours for your family. Meals are a great time to do just that. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three. Hook that baby into his high chair and sit down for a meal together. With the technology being available 24/7, you might be expected to reply to emails at any hour even in the middle of family dinner. This made 57 percent of workers think that in a way, technology has ruined family times.
And if at all possible, make sure you’re always around for bedtime. This is the perfect time for you to bond with your children. You can always get to that email when they’re asleep and you’re back to work.
In addition, some workers even get their work done outside of normal working hours. In fact, 26 percent of work is done even if it is not working hours anymore. The workers average to at least 1 hour of work outside of their working hours for the 89 days per year and on all weekend days almost 50 percent. In the US, in terms of the hours spent in the workplace, full-time working men spend 8.35 hours per day while full-time working women usually work 7.84 hours per day. And in the case for employed adults, statistics say that 33 percent work on Saturday, Sunday, and even on a holiday.
Due to this, having a work-life balance has been hard to achieve by 66 percent of full-time employees especially in the case of male full-time employees as women tend to say that they have a good work-life balance.
6. Build a Long-Term Timeline
Creating a daily schedule that includes personal time is important, but you also need to look at the big picture. You’ll feel more confident about your schedule on days when things don’t go as planned if you have a plan. Break out tasks into components and set realistic goals for completion. Prioritize and then execute. If it helps, you can even include family commitment outside of work to ensure you make time for those as well. Including everything makes it easy to remember to let your employees know when you’ll be unavailable.
7. Organize Your Workspace
You can make your office work for you with the right equipment. An ergonomic office chair, a standing desk, or an extra monitor can all enhance your experience and ensure you have what you need to be more productive.
8. Prioritize Exercise
Another ‘me’ time activity should be exercise. An active mind means an active body. It releases endorphins that make you happy and more positive. This is an attitude your employees will see and could make them happier, too. Multi-task by spending time with your child while you exercise. A great jogging stroller will ensure that you can bond while getting some fresh air and working those muscles.
9. It Takes Time to Make Time
Have you ever heard the phrase “it takes money to make money?” The same philosophy applies here. If you dedicate some time to building a calendar and effectively scheduling your time, you’ll be able to manage your time better later. It will save you time in the long run by investing some time in prioritizing things now.
Good leaders are always evolving. Be realistic about what you’re accomplishing, and then adjust accordingly. The schedule that works for you today won’t always be the most effective. You may need to move some things around as things in your life and your company change.
11. Take Care of Your Mental Health.
Fear, doubt, and anxiety are normal human emotions. The best thing you can do to manage your mental health is to make sure you’re always keeping tabs on yourself. Meditate or read a business book to get yourself back on track. Spend time with people who lift you up, take time for family, and take a much-needed break. Even CEOs deserve vacations. You’re not lazy and you’re not giving up if you decide to take a week off. Plan a vacation. Just make sure whenever you take a break, you always let your employees, and your clients know you will be unavailable, and let your backup know that you need them to cover for you. Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.