The difficulty associated with maintaining a work-life balance certainly isn’t a new saga – in fact, it likely dates all the way back to the days of the caveman. That said it’s becoming a more prominent issue for the workforce and, consequently, a more significant focal point for those in HR. If employees are facing stress in one aspect of their life, be it work or personal, it’s likely impacting their other functions as well. And in a time when productivity and innovation mean the difference between being a leader or a laggard, most firms can’t afford not to acknowledge the challenges that most in the workforce are facing.
As an executive, we have two assets which rival as to which is most valuable to us. Both our time and our team are the two most critical components in achieving our objectives, personally and collectively. This article is going to focus on our time and a few suggestions on how to get the greatest return on our time.
As true transformational leaders, in order to accomplish our mission, it is critical we spend our time doing the right things. We know this; yet, we often struggle with what is most important, how to prioritize, and how to keep our eye on the ball when distractions arise which they invariably do.
How many times did you hit the snooze button this morning before you finally dragged yourself out from under the covers? C’mon, be honest. But let yourself snooze just one time and it quickly becomes a habit. Next thing you know, you’re sleeping so late that you have to skip breakfast. And then, the rest of your day is off track. I know it sounds cliché at this point, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Let’s explore the reasons why.
Days, weeks, and months of leading a team can prove to be very exhausting. People are always asking things of you and while you love to give, the cycle of take-take-take can leave your well running dry.
A vacation is a great way to break out of that cycle and refresh your attitude. Think back to your last vacation. Did you feel relaxed, joyful, fulfilled? Did you gain a fresh perspective and perhaps return to work with an ignited flame of creativity?
Summer – it’s a time for the pool, barbeques and a laid back frame of mind, right? As a working mom, I cannot say that I agree. The school year is full of places to go, people to see, and projects to be completed, but at least it is not up to me to decide where and when my children should be. Day in and day out there is one constant, they go to school and I go to work.
I’ve been watching the TV series Mad Men lately and it’s gotten me thinking about how many of our work habits have changed over time. We laugh when we see the characters taking a drink in their office, or smoking a cigarette while working. These sorts of behaviors are just not acceptable in any way, anymore. Drinking alcohol at work would probably get you fired and smoking in the office is illegal!! But in that TV show, you might also see them taking a nap during the day on their beautiful office couch, or just sitting down on a comfortable chair beside their desk doing nothing. These behaviors would also probably be unacceptable in most work places today.
Just how difficult is it to be a mom and have a full time job at the same time? Ask any working mom and she will say it isn’t easy. Balancing the two roles takes great talent, not to mention effort, to be able to switch between hats. Women are famous for their ability to multi task, and multiply this several times for women applying this skill to both a job and motherhood.
Being a stay at home mom has its perks – you don’t have to get dressed up, you can work out on your own schedule, and you don’t have to have the children’s lunch ready at 7 a.m. However, the most amazing and obvious benefit of being a stay at home mom is the opportunity to intimately know your children and to share all of the milestones of their young lives. No one can truly understand and love a child like their parent. Choosing to stay at home had its financial and career limiting consequences, but it’s a choice that I will never regret.
Being a stay at home mom however does not mean that you must put your brain or skills on hold. Especially in today’s modern world where there are countless ways for you to expand your horizons.
Defining balance can be tricky.
In my opinion finding balance between one’s work and the remainder of their life is very personal unique to every individual. What balance means for me, can be entirely different than what it means to others. Balance isn’t a constant state. Sometimes, work has to take a priority and sometimes family life does. The key is to not let one always take precedence over the other, but to ebb and flow with the situation at the time.
Nonetheless, along my career and life journey I have found a few things that work for me in terms of balance that I think are worth sharing with others who may be struggling with the issue.
Are you familiar with the balance burden? I am referring to the burden and guilt trip we give ourselves each day over our attempt, and quite often failure, to balance all aspects (mom, caretaker, professional, student, friend etc.) of our lives. I spent my first year and a half of motherhood often riddled with guilt because I couldn’t seem to juggle it all. It wasn’t until the birth of my second daughter (18 months after my first) that I finally threw my hands up and admitted defeat. I was defeated, but not for long.