These days with the new flexible working directive coupled with more and more pressure at work and on family time it’s increasingly hard to create the space and time to have a decent work life balance especially if you're trying for that promotion, to start your own business or grow your SME. Not everyone can work from home when they want to, even if they are self-employed! There's plenty of part-time work out there at this time of year especially in the event or security sectors but that doesn't really apply to managers or director levels!
It helps to use technology to keep in touch, have meetings and reduce travelling and there are plenty of alternatives like Skype or GoToMeeting. One of the leaps forward is with the number of useful Cloud based programs, like PARiM Workforce Management Software, that can allow you to leave work early and perhaps get that final bit of work or planning done at home. Allowing you to read the kids a story, enjoyed a round of golf when it’s still light or have walked the dogs. They also keep you “ahead of the curve” because you can check on information any time, wherever you are.
In this blog I have separated out business and personal but it wouldn't be a bad idea to create an idealised or Utopian work-life plan for yourself of both and see what changes you can make to head towards it? So here are some work life balance tips for employers and employees.
In Your Business Life
Create space in your schedule to plan
Take time out or step back from the frenetic day to day running of the business to strategically plan what you are going to do in the next 6 months or year and factor in proper breaks and cover for you at work.
Be protective and recognise the value of your time – inside and outside of work. In other words value it correctly. Use technology to reduce the amount of time you spend on mundane repetitive tasks. Re-assign or delegate them to those whose time is less valuable to the business.
Prioritise and budget your time
Every task or job that comes to you or you get given assign a priority to it and budget a length of time for each one don't just put them automatically at the bottom of your to do list. Review this list at the start and end of every day. Reassigning and reassessing tasks or jobs if necessary
Predict or forecast the use of your time
Make sure you know where you are with the amount of time you have spent on each job/ task. Having predicted the amount of time you should take on a task if you take much less or much more consider why and whether this information needs to be taken into account with regards the time you have predicted to take on other tasks on your list
Take regular breaks
Take breaks from your work. I like to work 25-35 minutes then walk away from my desk for 10 minutes then get back into it but that suits me. It may suit you better to work 50 minutes and then spend 15 minutes walking round the office, taking a walk to the kitchen for a drink or going outside for a smoke! Before the start of your day or at the end of the previous day focus on and plan one thing each day that you can look forward to or want to do. That could be painting, reading a book, chatting to and individual, playing golf or squash, walking the dogs or riding a motorbike.
Whatever level you are within a business and even if you are a boss make sure you have an effective mentoring scheme for you! This could be within the company or external support system like that offered by Start Up Direct to young entrepreneurs or like Vistage. From personal experience I think having a mentor is a very good idea and almost worth its weight in gold BUT you need to take your time and make sure its the right mentor for you and your business.
Teach yourself to cope better with stress
Come up within coping mechanisms to help you manage stress in both your personal and business life. Worrying about things you can't change or effect won't help your health or sleep.
Where Personal and Business Life Overlap
You could try and set boundaries. That’s much easier for employees or manager’s to do than it is for the directors and bosses of SME’S these days, especially with the ease of communication and expected speed of response. One way is to plan properly for your absences, take a day to do so, informing your contacts, creating automated email responses with alternative contacts in emergencies.
Say no and turn people down
The only person that suffers if you say Yes to Everything is you! There are many ways to let people down gently and constructively. Maybe its not a definitive no but a postponement that’s required. The alternative is stress and being pulled from pillar to post! There are plenty of web and teaching resources that can coach you how best to turn people down in any given situation – take advantage of them.
Here are some other more general ideas that you could employ in your personal life
- Exercise. Create space in your life to take regular exercise - a sport, walking the dogs or leisure activity like swimming
- Healthy Eating. Not always easy, especially given business pressure but try and eat a balanced diet – again planning can help this Create enough time to get the right amount of sleep for your body
- Time Off. Take holidays even if you have to force yourself preferably two weeks at a time. You can still connect but you need to mentally recharge and rest
- Ask for Help. You can always ask for help and support from within work and your family circle
Achieving a better work life balance can help your health and for you to become a more productive member of staff or leader. It’s always better to work smarter!
Here is another great article with some more Work-Life Balance Tips from The Guardian 7th November 2014.