Sunday, September 19, 2010

Work-Life Balance: Leaving Work at Work

I know there’s no simple solution to the work-life balance issue. One thing I’ve been talking with clients about a lot lately is leaving work at work.

I know, I know. You can’t, you can’t. Because:

Excuse No. 1. You own your own business. It’s 24/7. Okay. I also own my own business. It can be 24/7, but there are things I can control that make it more like 10/7. Maybe even 10/6.

Excuse No. 2. It’s dog-eat-dog out there. I have to impress my boss by being available 24/7…Okay. I’ve also worked for others. It can be 24/7, but there are ways to make it more like 10/6.

Excuse No. 3. I’m never going to achieve the fame, glory, money, [fill in the blank], unless I crank away 24/7…Okay, I want fame, glory and money too…well, maybe not so much anymore. But ask yourself: will it make you happy?

Not one to bring up problems without solutions, here are my suggestions:

Decompress before you walk in the door. In the car, on the train or even just before you walk out of the office or into the house, take a few minutes to clear you mind. Consider what you have to leave behind and give yourself permission to do so. Write down what needs to be handled first thing in the morning if necessary. Then consider what you’re walking into. Set an intention to focus on your family, yourself, your dog, or whatever it is you’re coming home to. Make your intention more specific if you have to (e.g., I will try not to yell at the kids; I will try to really listen to my partner).

Leave the crackberry, iPhone, or whatever, charging somewhere else when you’re engaged with your family, relaxing/meditating/ running, eating, watching a DVD, etc. No home phone? I bet friends and family have their own ring. You can still screen calls. On call? On call is on call, but it’s probably not 24/7. And if it is and you get a lot of calls, maybe it’s time for a screening service or time to negotiate a change with the boss.

Check your email at specific times, i.e., not constantly. How many things cannot wait a few hours? And if there’s something pending that’s important, I’m sure you’ll know about it and can apologize in advance to your significant others. But that ought to be relatively rare.

Do not text while engaged with your family, relaxing/ meditating…you get the idea.

Engage with people at home and try to focus and really connect. Leaving work at work helps us do this. If you need to vent about something at work, do it. Then shift the focus back to home.

About that fame and fortune, you’ve got to ask if it’s really going to make you happy. Will you feel fulfilled if you make more money this year? Will life have more meaning if you’re more famous next year? Will your health be better? Will you be more content? Where are you really going with all this work?

Money Changes Everything, Cyndi Lauper. Or does it?


I'm Sorry Flowers said...

I have heard all these excuses before and even made them myself. You are so right that they are just excuses and you have to find a good balanace between work and life.

Judy'sAlterEgo said...

You just have to keep working at it. Thanks for your comment.