Do you have an internal tug of war? One side pulling you to spend more time at work and the other pulling you to spend more time at home.

Does your family tell you they miss you and want to spend more time with you?

If so, I can show you how to get the work life balance you need.

Who’s work life balance is it anyway?

As a leader, I feel it is was my responsibility to ensure everyone in my team had a good work life balance.

I learnt I was wrong as my idea of a work life balance is different than many others.

Exhibit A

One of the team leads works until 6pm, goes home and then works from 10pm to gone midnight. He also works on a Sunday night.

I discussed this with him as I thought his work life and personal life were out of whack.

His reply surprised me. He told me that he gets the best of both worlds. He spends quality time with his family between 7pm and 10pm and keeps on top of the work he loves. Not being on top of his work causes him internal stress.

He feels this balance is right for him and would hate to change it.

Exhibit B

Another team member got in at 6am so he could leave at 4pm and spend more time with his young daughter.

There are many other people I know who also have different work life balances that work for them.

It’s your balance

The balance between the time spent at work and the time spent in your personal life is unique to you.

Only you understand the internal motivations for this balance.

This also changes as your life evolves i.e. when you get married, when you have children, when your children grow older, etc.

Are you balanced?

You’re not. Ok, then I am going to assume you spend too much time at work.

I would love to meet someone who wished they spent less time at home.

Anyway back on point.

Take a pen and paper and write down your work life balance goal.

How much more quality time do you want to spend at home?

Right, lets look at ways to get you that time.

Reduce time at work

Drop pointless distractions

There are plenty of distractions that you can ignore that will allow you to get you out of the office earlier.

  • Surfing the internet.
  • Speaking to colleagues about non work activity.
  • Extended tea breaks.

I am sure you can think of more that take up your time.

Be brutal with meetings

Meetings can be a big drag on your time at work so you have to be brutal.

Block out your calendar so it looks as though you are busy.

When someone schedules a meeting, find out the agenda and decline it if you feel you are not needed.

If you need to attend, say you can only attend for the first 30 minutes. It is amazing how they can shuffle a meeting agenda if it is important that you are there.

If you are running the meeting, keep on agenda, cut off time wasters and move the meeting to the conclusion.

Making people stand up for the meeting also keeps everybody focussed.

Increase productivity

A great time management technique I use to focus me to get things done is the Pomodoro Technique. You can see how I got on after following this for 4 weeks at Pomodoro Technique

Utilise, reduce or cut travel time

  • Do you read a book, fall asleep or play games on your journey to work? Can you spend this time working instead so you can leave earlier?
  • Can you work from home on a couple of days and cut the travel time?
  • Can you leave later by getting another form of transport i.e. do you drive and could get the train?
  • This is a tough ask, but can you move closer to cut travel time altogether?

Quality home time

Ignore work emails

Can you ignore those work emails, why do you have to respond now?

I hate it that the blackberry caused such an instant response expectation. I was a victim of this until I got stressed with a work email and got annoyed with my young daughter for disturbing me.

After that the blackberry got turned off when I left work.

If people expect immediate response, set their expectations and set your out of office reply when you leave work.  State that you will respond within the next 24 hours unless it is an emergency when they can call you.

People will soon get used to it.

With bring your own devices to work, it is becoming harder to ignore work related emails as they can be alongside your personal ones.

Ignoring work emails will give your more personal time and stop you thinking about work which can affect your mood.

Outsource

Can you outsource any work that will allow you to spend quality time with your family and friends.

Can you pay for someone to do the washing, the ironing, the cleaning or the gardening.

If so and you can afford it, do it now. It is amazing how many hours of quality time you can free up.

Manage your schedule

You have now managed to get some more quality at home, but you want more?

Ok, this maybe difficult, can you be flexible instead?

  • On a couple of days, can you get into work at 10am and work later so you can take your children to school?
  • Can you leave early some nights, but work very late on a Wednesday night?
  • Can you leave early, but make up the time when your family is asleep?

Can you think of any other combinations that work for you?

As long as you get your work done, then your manager should not have an issue with any of these.

You should discuss it with him though to manage expectations.

Wrap up

Work life balance is personal, it is a balance between work and life that you are comfortable with.

I have shown you some ways to –

  • Save time in your work life.
  • Gain quality time in your personal life
  • Adjust your schedule to meet your priorities.

Do you have any ways of managing your work life balance?