We’ve all heard the saying, “Work to live, not live to work.” This may not ring true with each individual, depending on your personality and values. If you are the type of person who thrives on working, and you’d easily trade your four-poster at home for a cot in the office, good for you. Our corporations would not be where they are today without the dedicated employees that put every ounce of their being into their work and growing our companies. However, if that doesn’t describe you and you place another entity as your top priority, be it family, friends, hobbies, etc., then you are in the majority of the workforce population, the group of individuals that oftentimes feel depleted from the constant struggle between succeeding at work and helping their company, and spending time and energy on their loved ones at home. As one employee put it in an article on CIO.com, “I am just torn. I can’t focus well. I’m operating out of guilt rather than desire. At home, I think about work; at work, I think I’m neglecting my husband. It’s a feeling of being under pressure all the time.”
So what is a worker, whether they are a manager or a trainee, to do? It’s not about 50/50 play/work,” says the article. “It’s really about figuring out how to be sustainable so you can keep your energy flowing, keep yourself healthy in the long term.” Below are five sensible tips from the CIO article to help you do just that and achieve the work-life balance that not only benefits both your company and families, but fills you with satisfaction and happiness.
1. Ask yourself hard questions. Introspection takes guts. You need to determine how serious your problem is. Should you just wean yourself off evening e-mail, or should you consider a career change? Where are you going in life? What are your priorities?
2. Maintain boundaries between work and home. Some obvious tactics come to mind: Turn off the cell phone during dinner. Don’t plan the T-ball lineup at budget meetings. BlackBerrys stay home during family vacations. But you need mental boundaries as well. It’s important to take time to reflect and regroup, even at work.
3. Stick to a schedule. A set routine helps keep your boundaries—and your mind—clear. On top of his 10-hour workday, Akshay Upadhye, a London-based IT consultant with Source Paradigm Limited, allots an hour every morning for meditation and yoga and three hours each evening for his wife and two young kids. Weekends he devotes to the family.
4. Delegate. You don’t need to do it all. Really. “It took a while for me to figure it out,” says Ed Longanacre, senior vice president of IT at Amerisafe in Deridder, La. “[But now] I’ve got these guys trained well enough that I don’t need to be there all the time.” He has empowered his subordinates to make certain hiring and salary decisions, handle delivery management for shorter projects and conduct weekly client reviews, for example. Delegate at home, too. For example, one employee counts on her son to make his own breakfast and lunch, take out the trash and empty the dishwasher.
5. Set an example. “I think I’ve demonstrated both in actions and verbally to my employees that it’s OK to go to the dentist today,” says Longanacre. He says he has learned over the years that productivity is more important than number of hours logged, so while he makes sure someone in his IT department is always available, he doesn’t tie people to their desks.