“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a wealthy widow.” – Evan Esar
We’ve all seen this quote and laugh about it – but really, how true is this saying? It relates to the same thing we all struggle with – the balance between work and life. Some people see work and life as the same; others still draw a divide between the two worlds. It may depend on your industry and level of responsibility in your company as to whether or not there is a distinguishable separation between work and life.
In today’s technological world, it’s become more difficult to maintain balance between work and life. Maybe for this reason we continually strive to gain more work-life balance … or maybe we need to redefine what we want from work-life balance?
For some people, the blur between work and life began with mobile phones. Clients and employers knew how to reach them, even when they were on vacation trying to decompress.
For others, it was when BlackBerry was introduced into the business world. Emails were expected to be responded to 24/7… unless you were wise to establish communication parameters.
And now with smart phones, things are more blurred with social media. Should you accept friend requests from co-workers? Should you accept friend requests from clients? No matter where you turn, technology has blurred the line between work and life.
So, how do you find balance?
Here are three ways to consider.
1. Set aside a certain amount of time each day to return phone calls, emails and social media comments. If you don’t establish parameters, then you’ll find your day continually interrupted resulting in not getting priority work accomplished — which then leaves you staying late at the office to work on things you needed to get done during the day.
For example, Susan allows an hour to respond to phone calls, emails and social media comments in the morning (at 9AM), another hour in the afternoon (1PM) and another hour in the evening (5PM). She gets to the office around 7AM each day but uses the first 2 hours of her day focusing on projects. She scans her phone calls, emails and social media to make sure nothing impacts the project she is currently working on but she refrains from responding to them until 9AM. It’s a tough discipline to implement but it has allowed her to get important tasks accomplished before distractions begin and more importantly, not to work late every night.
2. Educate your spouse/partner about the demands of your job which require you to address phone calls, emails and social media BUT commit to a daily activity or weekly activity with your family where you focus 100% of your time with them. Stress for work-life balance may come from others. The best way to address this issue is to share information and deadlines but also offer a solution to address what they want. It’s no different from managing expectations in the workplace.
For example, Tom is committed to getting home before his kids go to bed so he can spend time finding out about their day. Because of his demanding job, it was unrealistic for him to be home each night for dinner which frustrated his wife. And when he was home for dinner, he was always responding to emails and phone calls which frustrated his wife more. By understanding she wanted him to spend more time with their kids, he was able to offer a solution (being home before his kids go to bed) that would address her concern.
3. Develop a personal social media strategy that supports your personal brand. If some of your social media followers and friends include those you know professionally, you may think twice about what you post. How will your post impact your current or potential employer … current or potential employees … current or potential clients? Shift posting about what you are doing to posting about things you find interesting or things that showcase your expertise.
For example, Bill recently received a promotion and is now a senior-level executive for a technology firm. Many of his work colleagues and clients are connected to him via Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn. With his promotion, Bill is more sensitive about what he posts online. He no longer posts about where he is or what he is doing. Instead, Bill retweets and shares general information posted by his firm. On FaceBook, he showcases his personal knowledge on new technology products by sharing articles and YouTube videos he finds interesting. He also includes a comment about the product or service. Given the demands of his job, he finds himself spending less time on social media but tries to post something once a week to stay connected.
With technological advances, it’s becoming more difficult to separate work and life. The above suggestions provide ways to find balance. If you need help identifying more ways that will work for your personal situation, feel free to contact us. We’ve successfully helped clients define what they want from work-life balance and ways to achieve their goal.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Her firm bridges the gap between financial planning and coaching. As a Transition Consultant, she offers sage advice in all aspects of life – financial, personal and professional. Niv does not manage money and does not sell financial products. Her services include spending plan development, divorce financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”