Can you? In this world where we are always on, is it possible to draw a line in the proverbial sand and give yourself that desired balance? Is it possible to feel like you have mastered being a super employee and super (mom/dad/spouse/partner/person)?
More and more as I screen senior-level candidates, I find this to be a struggle for them. They give their all and often find themselves at a tipping point. It seems to be a big driver in seeking new opportunities or, at the very least, having a conversation.
I think it is possible to choose your work/life balance.
I’ve been working on my own work/life balance for my entire career and, dare I say, “coaching” my husband (a finance professional who always seems to have a deal to close on vacation) on how to find it in his. After all this time, I believe you really need to be flexible and focus on these 3 actions:
Be present. Whether you’re at work, at home, or on vacation. We only go around once in this world, and while it’s important to think of the future, it’s vitally important to be present in the moment. It takes a day or two to disengage. Start limiting your accessibility—it is on you in this day and age. Heading out on vacation? Schedule yourself into outings that limit yourself to be available on day 1. For my husband, a round of golf usually does the trick, and one time we threw him in a shark tank in the Pacific. Whatever it takes to disengage.
Prioritize. Work and home seem to be in a constant tag-team situation. And this has been true for me whether I’ve worked from home or in an office. Three days a week I feel like I’m racing the clock to close out my day at 4:30. Thursday and Friday I take a breath and feel less harried. And that pressure? That’s all me. I work in a flexible environment and they realize I’m that person arriving at 7:30 to start my day. That I get the job done, that there’s follow-up, and closure. And in this tag-team situation, there will be times when work has to take priority. Because I know I have commitments three days a week, I schedule around them. Something comes up at 4:15? There’s always a way to address. Whether it’s later in the evening or prioritized for the next day.
Communicate. Create clear lines of communication and schedule your “check-ins.” This is very important if you’ve taken time off. For my most recent vacation, I had one thing that I felt was “unfinished” before I left. While I’m a gal that likes to clear the decks before I go, I did take 15 minutes each morning while having my coffee to scan my email for updates on this one thing. I had a plan to forward that to-do to someone in the office, who could take action. And while I saw there were a billion other emails that I could clear, I left them, limiting myself to that one thing that I had to check on.
The reality of work/life balance is there an ebb and flow to it. You have to find what works for you and know what’s most important to you on your journey. There will be times when it all falls apart, when the plan fails.
That’s just one day.
Regroup and start over. This is a situation where your practice will help you perfect drawing your line in the sand for work/life balance.
Note:The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Marriott International
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.