Is your work-life balance off-balance?
No matter how good you are at your job and how well you balance work with your personal life, sometimes, it becomes more difficult to maintain that balance. For example, your company’s about to launch a new service, and you’re working overtime every day to beat the deadline. Maybe your child is seriously ill, and you’re spending as many hours at the hospital as at work. Or perhaps you’ve been studying for an advanced degree and are working late nights to finish your thesis.
As a manager, you don’t just manage other people: You also have to manage yourself. If you realize that your work-life balance is about to seesaw, it’s time to bring it back into balance before you burn out. The following five strategies can help:
1.Find ways to be more efficient. The first thing to do is determine if you can be more efficient. For example, do you really have to go to every meeting in person, or can you hold teleconferences? This can save considerable time on travel. Similarly, make business calls while you’re commuting to and from work. Use collaboration software and project management apps to keep all of your files, schedules, and lists in one central place, so you’re not constantly asking your team for them. Reduce the amount of email you have to deal with by using instant messaging apps.
2.Do one thing at a time. It might sound self-explanatory, but most of us are multi-tasking all of the time. For example, you’re writing a report, but you check every email message that comes in and answer every phone call. Multi-tasking can slow you down when you’re trying to complete one task and move on to the next. So turn off all email and message alerts, as well as your phone, and focus on completing things one at a time.
3.Delegate. If ramping up your efficiency and focusing on one thing at a time doesn’t help you restore balance, then you need to delegate. Assess which of your tasks you can offload onto one or more of your team members. Make sure that when you give someone additional responsibilities, you also provide the tools and support he or she needs to do a good job.
4.Ask your employer for flexibility. Sometimes delegating isn’t an option, for example, if there isn’t anybody in the team with the skills to handle the tasks you have to delegate. However, nobody else can care for your sick child or write your thesis for you. In these types of situations, it’s best to schedule a meeting with your supervisor and explain the situation. Oftentimes, solutions such as temporary flex work or telecommuting can make your life a lot easier.
5.Set boundaries. Even if all of the strategies above provide you with more time, attaining a good work-life balance involves other factors, too. You need to set boundaries around time with your family and friends, as well as time for yourself. For example, no matter how busy you are, keep Friday night as date night with your significant other, and make sure Sunday afternoon is your special time with your kids. Remember to reserve time for yourself, too, for example by doing yoga in the early mornings or setting 30 minutes aside for reading a novel in bed each night.
Maintaining a good work-life balance can be challenging at times. But so long as you keep in mind that work habits and lifestyles can be adjusted, and it’s okay to ask for help, you can get your balance back again.
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