Communication and collaboration technologies have enabled new ways to increase productivity and enhance our work lives. However, with these advances many people feel the pressure to be “always on.” Convenience and flexibility are great, but if you can’t find time to for your personal life, your productivity is bound to suffer.
So how can we tackle the problem of managing the demands of a connected job, and the need to maintain balance with our personal lives? It may be easier than you think.
Be honest and open about what you need. Everyone has a different definition of what “work-life balance” means to them. The first step is communicating with your manager. Is it important for you to leave at 5:00pm every day to ensure you have time for your family? Is a lunchtime work out at 12:00pm every day a priority? Work with your managers and stakeholders to make sure that you can balance the time commitments in your job and your personal life.
Schedule personal time just like work time. Many of us easily fall into the trap of giving our personal lives whatever we have left over after work. When you need time for yourself or your family, put it on your calendar and treat it like it’s just as important as a work event.
Focus. Both your work and personal lives can benefit from focusing on one thing at a time. When you’re at home, focus on being present and taking care of your personal life. When you’re at work, focus on being present at work and giving it your undivided attention, if possible concentrating on one project at a time. Ideally, this will help prevent your personal life from distracting you at work, and the demands of your job from pulling on you at home.
Disconnect. This is a great tip for both work and personal life. Turning off devices and notifications for a period to focus on work is just as important and productive as turning off devices to focus on some aspect of your personal life. Power down sometimes and reconnect with things that really matter outside of your work.
Start small, and work your way to where you want to be. Lifestyle changes take time, and seldom are successful if you attempt a radical change all at once. Build up to where you want to be. Maybe your goal for the next week is simply to set aside one hour each day where you disconnect. The key is to set realistic goals and to hold yourself accountable to the boundaries you set. If 8:00pm - 9:00pm is time you have set aside for yourself, work on honoring that boundary first, before moving on to, say, your exercise goal at 6:00am.
For those of us who truly enjoy our jobs, and are passionate about our work, it can be especially difficult to find the right place to draw the line. Regardless of how passionate you are about your work, your productivity will greatly improve if you find a way to balance that passion with your personal life as well.