Monday, August 4, 2014

Work-life balance... in your current role

If you read last week’s post by Kari, you know how important it is to be up front about your need for work-life balance before starting a job. What if work-life balance wasn’t important for you when you started your job, but your circumstances have changed? When you started this job a couple years ago, you had a different life, different priorities and different goals. You were willing to eat three meals a day at your desk. It was no problem to not see the daylight on a workday… or even the weekend.

Things have changed. Maybe you are realizing you are out of shape and want to get back to the gym? Maybe you just had a baby or you realized your child is growing up without you? Maybe you did some vision work with your career coach and realized you want more from life than work? Maybe you just want to see your family and friends more? Whatever the case, how can you gain work-life balance in an existing role?

The first step is to understand what is keeping you late in the office. The root cause can help you understand how to deal with your hours. How many of the late nights are a result of your own-doing vs your boss or workload? Right now, most people are saying- ‘oh, it’s the workload.’ Or- ‘it’s definitely my boss.’ Before answering, think really carefully. How do you trust your team to accomplish their goals vs micromanaging? How can you give better direction rather than participate in every meeting? What are you doing that may not be necessary or productive? How much time do you spend making small talk around the office vs focusing on your work? What do you let derail you from urgent projects? How can you better manage your time? I had someone once tell me that it takes 2 minutes on average to read and deal with an email. I get about 150 emails a day… that is almost 5 hours of just reading and answering emails! What can I do about it? I decided that picking up the phone or having a 15 minute meeting with a small group can clear up a flurry of emails- 15 minutes… eliminates 15 emails… equals 15 minutes back to me!  

After taking a good look at your own actions, what were you able to gain? If this is still not what you are looking for, consider discussing your situation with your boss. I say consider because you will know better than anyone else what his/ her position will be. How productive will the conversation be? What should your positioning be in that conversation? How can you best connect with your boss on this point? How can you help offer solutions to give you more work-life balance? What flexible options could help give you more balance? For example, do you have a long commute? Could working from home one day a week give you more time to get actual work done vs driving?

What other ideas do you have to bring work-life balance? How can you help your co-workers and employees to also gain work-life balance? How long are you willing to tolerate your current hours?

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