I learned a lesson the hard way from a note left on my desk at work one day. It had just four words: “Leave some for home.” Those words from a coworker challenged me and made me panic. The plates I had spinning came crashing down at my feet. Up to this point, I had hustled to be productive at work. It hit hard when I realized my choices were at the expense of a safe balance between my home life and work life. I was overwhelmed, overcommitted, and overdue for some needed margin. On the drive home, I focused on my unbalanced life and knew I had to make some changes or I’d break.
There is no easy formula for a perfect balance when juggling work and home. And if you work from home, it can be even trickier. But these 3 work life balance tips will help.
Tip #1 – Set up safe boundaries.
We aren’t programmed to work seven days a week. So a good place to start is to define the tasks you have to do separately from what you want to do. Even though you are good at doing many things, that doesn’t mean you have to do them all. It helps to say no or not now instead of yes to everything. Your boundaries are like a good conversation. You need to hear from both sides by listening to your strengths and weaknesses. Somewhere in the middle, you can define your permissions and examine the trade-offs.
Even though you are good at doing many things, that doesn’t mean you have to do them all.
Tip #2 – Fight for balance.
There is always something needed at work when you’re at home and something needed at home when you’re at work. We are caught up in the hustle of this fast-paced instant culture. It’s hard to slow schedules down because we think if we aren’t always doing or going, we aren’t being productive. We have to learn to fight for balance because people make great demands on our time. Many times we fall under someone else’s “tyranny of the urgent.” Their emergency shouldn’t define your urgency. This is one of our work life balance tips, but it’s also a great tip for life in general. A good place to start is to prioritize your lists for both home and work. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and be willing to stand up to people who think you can.
Tip #3 – Draw the line for distractions.
Make some BIG decisions to be fully present both at home and at work. A good place to start is to only check your work email once a day at home, and if possible, leave your personal email for home time. One of the hardest things to do is to leave work behind you when you walk out the door. Use the drive home as a sort of separation from the unaccomplished tasks you’re leaving behind, reassuring yourself that you’ll tackle them when you return to work. Then, when you’re home, switch into mom mode. If you work from home, turn off the computer and close the office door behind you.
When you put all these habits into practice, you can create a better balance between your work and home life. The rewards will be huge—you’ll bring stability and strength to your family life and function well when you’re at work.
What is the hardest part of maintaining a balance between work and home for you?