Achieving a Work LIfe Balance

Work/Life Balance is not as cut as dry as one would think. Our gut instincts tell us that it should be an even mix between working and living. We should have enough time to go to work, come home, spend time with our families, go on vacation, pay bills, and relax. Anyone who’s ever had a job knows that this is not always the case. Most times we’re scrambling between household duties, work and bills. There just never seems to be enough time.

Who’s responsible for Work/Live Balance? Most publications state that it is the individual’s responsibility to achieve a balance. Yet, we look to our workplaces to help us with that goal; flex-time, personal time, vacation and holiday pay. These are simply tools for us to use in order to achieve our work/life balance.

ASTD Press has a pamphlet entitled “Fundamentals of Work Life Balance” by Erica D. Chuck. On the first page she states how “recent decades have seen an increase dual income households.” This means that more of us are working, leaving us with less time for a home-life.

How do we achieve the balance? We should all start with a few basic questions before we ever apply for the job let alone walk into the interview.

1. How much money do I need to make?

This is by far the most important question. We need enough money to pay our bills and save a little bit for emergencies and retirement. For me, that’s between $15.00 and $16.00 an hour. I can live comfortably off that working full-time. If I wanted to work part-time, it’d need to be more like $20.00 to $23.00 an hour. The latter probably isn’t feasible. So, remember, the hourly goal also has to be realistic.

Once that question is answered, we have an hourly wage objective and can pursue jobs in that wage range.

What do I want out of my career?

This question is also important. If you want to advance and achieve promotions, using a lot of flextime and work/life balancing options may not be a good idea. There can be a stigma to using such balancing options. If all of your coworkers work 40+ hours a week, and you work 35, there may be some resentment. It’s always best to talk to your supervisor about options and a plan for your career. Learn directly what the impact will be if you use a lot of flex-time, opt to work at home, or take a lot of personal days. It may affect your advancement. Know what the consequences are beforehand.

What do I want out of the Company I work for?

Do you want a fun, friendly atmosphere? Do you want to make a difference? Do you want to feel useful and productive. Examine yourself before applying for that next job. Know exactly what you want out of the company before you even apply and especially before you walk into the interview.

What are my long term goals both personal and professional?

Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 Years? Write it all down for both your personal and professional lives, and make a plan on how you want to achieve those goals.

What are my personal and professional short term goals?

Where do you want to be both professionally and personally in three months? Six months? 12 months? Write them all down as you did for your long term goals.

Do they mesh?

For the professional goals, it would be wise to talk to your supervisor and get a plan and agenda from them. If your job is notorious for long hours, and you want to be at the gym every night at 6pm or your child has numerous extracurricular activities after school, find out if you can leave work early without dire consequences.

Then take those professional suggestions and agendas and pit them against your personal goals. Figure out if they mesh or if they are in direct conflict with what you really want to achieve.

By answering these questions, and examining both your personal and professional lives, you will be well on your way to helping yourself create an acceptable work/life balance.