Picture this.. it’s 6 o’clock Tuesday morning. You are exhausted because on Monday you woke up, got yourself ready for the day, packed lunches, got the kids out the door, went to work and kicked some finance butt, picked the kids up, made dinner, got the kids to bed, and then stayed up late to catch up on weekend laundry (and your favorite show – let’s be honest). And now, you are about to do the whole routine again. You’re burned out. You need a break. But work never ends, so what gives?
You spend 40-60 hours a week at work and 42-56 hours sleeping (hopefully), leaving only 52-86 hours in a week to spend time with the kids, do housework, travel, and live life. This number is so daunting that many young women avoid having a family in fear that their time will be too limited. Work-life balance is extremely important to achieve, but many people struggle with how to achieve it.
Here are 5 tips to help you achieve work-life balance:
- Take your PTO days. Yes, you heard me. Take them. Take them all. Your employer gives them to you for a reason. They are a benefit to you – just as much as paid health insurance and bonuses. Plan most of your days in advance, and make a plan with your supervisor, coworkers, and direct reports for how to handle business while you are out. Planning ahead will help reduce stress for you and your colleagues during days off.
- Unplug from work at home. Trust me, I know, this is much easier said than done, especially if you are in a leadership role. And let’s be honest, I don’t unplug 100% while I’m home. Unplugging from something that occupies a quarter of your time during the week is hard to do. I do, however, unplug during dinner and bedtime with my husband and child. These are the hours that count the most to me. Unplugging for 2 hours in the evening can refresh your mind and ease your stress.
- Prioritize at work. For most people, the reason they work longer hours or at home on the weekends is because they do not prioritize the most important work that needs to be completed. Prioritize based on your work style. For me, I prioritize by ease, beginning with most simple tasks and laddering up to more complex projects. Some people work in the opposite style. Be consistent and make a list. I feel more accomplished when I cross items off my list.
- Offer your employees flexibility. This is for you, leaders! Here’s the deal: things happen. If you have kids, literally anything can disrupt your day. Offer some flexibility options to your employees so they can balance work and life. Options could include work-week adjustments, earlier or later start times, or flex schedules. When employees feel that they have the opportunity and flexibility to take care of their families and personal life, they will be more likely to remain loyal to the business and to work more efficiently and effectively. You get out of your employees what you put into them. Give them balance and they will give you better performance.
- Talk about it! Talk to your supervisor about your concerns and stresses. Unless it begins to affect your work, most supervisors won’t identify your need for work life balance if they aren’t focused on it. If you need to take PTO, ask for it. Is your workload too intensive? Talk about it. Your supervisor may have some great ideas about how to balance your workload. They may even help you brainstorm ideas and new processes to help you be more efficient. Whatever you do, don’t be silent. Everyone needs work life balance, even your supervisors, so let them help you.
Remember: You will continuously need to regain your balance. It will change week to week. Be open to the ways you can achieve work life balance and understand that it will require your effort often.