Wellbeing: Work Life Balance Truths
Work Life Balance has become the holy grail we all want, but what does it actually look like in real life? While companies are gradually making progress towards creating more inclusive, supportive workplaces with flexible working policies and other wellbeing initiatives, what do we as individuals need to change, to create a 'work life balance' we are truly happy with?
Productivity Ninja Grace Marshall, mum of two and author of How to be Really Productive shares her five Work Life Balance truths:
1. The work never ends. So it’s up to us to create our own finish lines
Let’s face it, most of us don’t work in jobs where the factory shuts, we clock out and we physically can’t do any more work until we clock back in. The reality in today’s world is that the work never ends. There’s always more we could do - more thinking, more emails, more ideas, more research.
So it’s up to us to create our own finish lines - to know when we’re done: done for the day, done with a meeting (hint: not just what time it’s due to finish) or done with that piece of work. How clear are you about what ‘done’ looks like in your work?
2. Single-handed superheroes aren’t real - and about as ridiculous as wearing your pants on the outside
But how often do we get sucked into celebrating those who seemingly ‘have and do it all’ singlehandedly? I was talking to a friend recently who was preparing for a work trip by getting swimming and football kits ready for her 9 and 13 year olds. With a little questioning, she conceded that they were both fully capable of packing their own bags, and it was probably time to let go of being the default person.
Last week, it was an honour to have two of my daughter’s friends over for play dates because their parents had transport trouble. Equally there have been times when other parents have helped me out - with childcare, transport, even World Book Day costumes! - and I have been so utterly grateful. The truth is we all have different skills and strengths, and when we share those, we really are stronger together.
3. Ditch the comparisonitis
Sometimes I like to think of it as Work Life Satisfaction. How satisfied are you with your quality of life - at work, and outside of work? Because it’s your definition that counts, not that of your neighbours, colleagues or even your mother-in-law.
If you take a look at all your commitments - at work and outside of work, how many of those did you intentionally choose? How many are there more because of an expectation, an assumption, or have the word ’should’ attached to them? (Hint: pay particular attention to this with Christmas coming up!)
4. Boundaries communicate value
Many of us worry that if we set boundaries around our availability, say no to working late, or turn off our email at the weekend, this will make us less valuable at work. But the reverse is often true. Kristen Pressner, Global Head Human Resources for Roche Diagnostics, found that her career soared after setting boundaries at work.
Boundaries communicate value. If you know you have to book a dentist, hairdresser or restaurant in advance, it’s usually a sign that what they have to offer is really good, not really bad. Boundaries also make you clarify and choose what’s really important, rather than indiscriminately trying to fit everything in. They show that you are serious about delivering on your commitments, and ultimately make you more productive, not less.
5. It’s more of a rhythm than a balance
If you’re trying to balance work and family like a set of scales, every time you focus on one side, it tips the balance and you feel you need to make it up to the other side.
The problem with this is that guilt always focuses our attention on what we’re not doing. It becomes distracting, exhausting and ultimately strips us of our ability to be present and fully engaged.
I prefer to think of it as Work Life Rhythm. Rhythm means there will be highs and lows, ebb and flow, and our goal is not to even it all out, but to work out how we move with it. Instead, we get to play with it, dance with it, run with the fast and bask in the slow. Life isn’t uniform, so let’s stop trying to make it that way.
Grace Marshall is an author, coach and Productivity Ninja, who loves helping people live and work with more brilliance and less burnout. She coaches at Grace-Marshall.com, runs workshops and speaks at conferences as a Productivity Ninja with Think Productive, and her latest book, “How to be REALLY Productive” was named Best Commuter’s Read in the CMI / British Library 2017 Management Book of the Year Awards.
She lives in Stafford with her husband, 13 year old son and 9 year old daughter, continually working on being a good-enough wife and mum, with intermittent lapses into hopelessness and brilliance.
Released On 4th Oct 2018