Work life balance is often seen as an area of challenge by managers and leaders. As we progress with our careers, move up the hierarchy it is all too easy to become so focussed on our work and lose sight of other important things like family, exercise, sports and hobbies.
Work life balance for me is about having a mix of things in our life. By nature it will be fluid rather than something that is fixed once and forgotten about. At a very simple level, achieving work life balance comes down to the 3Cs – clarity, choice and control. So let’s explore each of these in more detail.
If we are honest most of the time we just bob along from day to day without giving much thought to what we want. Getting clarity on what we want is the first step in getting results in terms of work life balance. List out the common areas of your life such as money, career, health, family, fun, relationships and contribution to the community.
Armed with this information, write out what you would like that area of your life to be like. In doing this, be as specific as possible about the outcomes you want. For example, earning an annual salary of $100,000, working a maximum of 45 hours, spending 3 hours a week exercising are all specific outcomes. So the first step in improving work life balance is getting clarity on what you want.
We always have choices. Even choosing to do nothing is a choice. Yet when it comes to work, we can often fall into the trap of being passive when it comes to choices. Getting work life balance requires you to make choices around how you spend your time, the meetings that you attend, how you deal with telephone calls, how you handle e-mails, what you keep doing and what you delegate are all choices. To start improving your work life balance determine what you do best, where you have the greatest impact and then make choices based on this criteria.
Are you taking control or are you a puppet on string? Those that excel in work life balance take control of their schedule rather than let others dictate it. We have all probably worked with people who are always late for meetings or worse still cancel at the last minute because they have over committed themselves. Taking control is not about being difficult but setting out boundaries that you work to and look others to work within. It makes it easier all round.
Bottom line – work life balance is a fluid state rather than something that you fix and forget about. Addressing the 3Cs, clarity, choice and control can make a huge difference to improving work life balance. So what’s your next step in improving your work life balance?
By John Vaughan