No, that’s not a typo. I am aware it’s usually written as ‘work / life balance’.
It has always fascinated me, however, that in the very phrase coined to promote a balance between our homelife and our jobs, work STILL comes first.
“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.” Heather Schuck
So, how is your life / work balance?
In this context, work is any time spent at the office, commuting to and from work, working from home and thinking about / being distracted by work.
Your life, is pretty much everything else you do when you’re not sleeping (if you have time to sleep, that is…).
For many business leaders, finding a balance between these two worlds is the holy grail.
When I was climbing the corporate ladder, I’ll admit there were times when I compromised my homelife and activities with the children because of a pressing work thing.
Sports days, school plays; all those special moments in life that I’m never going to get back. At times it would make me resentful towards my work as I seldom felt I got recognition and thanks for the personal sacrifices I made for the business. But the truth is, I wasn’t special; everybody around me was sacrificing family time too.
“No one on his deathbed ever said ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.” Paul Tsongas
How much work is too much?
That’s a difficult question to answer, because circumstances can vary wildly from one person to the next. The bottom line is however, EVERYBODY needs some time to relax. Whether your idea of downtime is going on a spa break, enjoying a luxury holiday, or just being home in time to have dinner with your family - we all need to decompress.
Long working hours without adequate respite can have far reaching consequences when it comes to your family, friends, health and career.
Your Family: Arguments, missed events, disappointment and divorce – all of these can stem from working too much and all can bring about stress, pressure and health concerns.
If you have an unhappy homelife, you may throw yourself into work as a way of avoiding time at home. Sadly, this is not a long-term solution and ‘shoving your head in the sand’ will eventually catch up with you. The stress you carry from home needs an outlet and this often results in poor performance and/or sickness from at work.
“You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” Unknown
Your Friendships: Simply put, if you’re always working when people invite you out – they’ll eventually stop asking you. Even the closest of friendships need some kind of maintenance. Sure, they may understand being dropped for your career, but that doesn’t mean they’ll always put up with it.
Your Career: If you spend too much time working and don’t have enough downtime, it can lead to tiredness, reduced performance, mistakes, stress and compromised health. Sloppy workmanship and time off sick can damage your career aspirations and reputation, so it’s important to keep that in mind when you are pulling your next late-nighter.
Your Health: According to a 2001 study by The International Labour Organisation, working 55 hours or more a week is associated with a 35% higher risk of having a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with a working a 35 to 40 hour week.
Those are worrying statistics when paired with the results of a 2018 survey by the Chartered Management Institute which states that senior managers in the UK are putting in an average of one day unpaid overtime a week.
“Work is a rubber ball; if you drop it, it will bounce back. The other balls – family, health, friends, integrity – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked or perhaps even shattered.” Gary Keller
Achieving a balance is not easy.
Unfortunately, we can’t just flick a switch and balance our lives. It’s one thing to understand the health and livelihood risks from working long hours, but quite another to actually be able to reduce our time spent at work.
If you put in too little time at the office, your performance will be compromised and you might come under pressure from your boss or the board.
On the flip-side, when it comes to your homelife, those bills still need paying and reducing those hours can mean your family have to compromise on things in life they have become accustomed to - like having a big house, a nice car and expensive holidays.
In order for it to work and be sustainable, the shift into gaining a life / work balance has to be gradual and well calculated.
Getting the right balance through coaching:
“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.” Jana Kingsford.
Coaching can give you the opportunity to put your ‘foot on the ball’ and look around to see if what you are doing and where you are investing your time, is conducive to your overall goal.
Together, we will go over how your time is spent, with a fine-toothed comb. We’ll then look for opportunities for you to delegate, train up individuals or switch up procedures to make them more streamlined and less work intensive.
As part of this analysis, we will also look at the way you manage your time. Time management is a skill to master and it takes practice, but there are plenty of tools out there that can assist clients in prioritising their tasks in the short-term.
As well as looking at how you spend your time, we also consider how your work ethic can cast a shadow on the people around you. This allows you to see yourself from the perspective of others, in order to understand the wider impact of your life/work balance.
Once a thorough analysis of your situation and aspirations is complete, and a plan of action has been created, we would then support you whilst you’re working it all through.
By this stage, our coaching sessions will have empowered you with the skills to put accountability where it needs to be, to delegate, to develop and stretch your team and comfortably change the way things are done.
Whilst these changes are happening, we don’t rest on our laurels. We continue to work with you on managing distractions and sustaining the changes you have made.
How will you spend your time?
There you have it: through forward thinking, planning and prioritising, you’ve managed to achieve an extra 10 – 20 hours a week. Yay! Go you!
But, now what do you do with it?
This sounds a little mad, but when I reduced my working week from 60+ hours to 45 hours, the hardest thing was not trying to squeeze my job into less hours, it was sitting at home at 3pm on a cold Monday in January, feeling guilty I wasn’t at work and not knowing what to do.
As leaders, we are often way too busy to spend a decent amount of time planning ahead. Our coaching sessions will offer you valuable thinking time to consider just how you are going to put that extra time earned, to good use.
If a life/work balance is something you crave but are struggling to achieve on your own, why not pick up the phone and give us a call?
Or email me: Paul@paulstarbuckassiociates.com
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is, you’re the pilot.” Michael Altshuler
Let us help you to be all you can be, in 2022.