Work life balance. A catchy little phrase. Employers use it as advertisement. People make it their new year resolutions. Businesses make money off it. Yet it remains elusive to most of us.
Here is how I try to achieve my work life balance. I divide my life into buckets. I understand and accept that I cannot be good at every bucket. Women who say they have it all, do not have it all. That is as much a lie as saying one is born with 6 pack abs. Something has got to give. Figure out your priorities. Remember, Instagram and Facebook are airbrushed version of someone’s life.
Here are my buckets. These buckets require frequent reassessment. Priorities change as you age.
Work hard, work smart and work efficiently. Other than sleep, this is the single most time consuming thing in your adult life.
- At the end of each work day, spend 30 min to plan ahead. Look at your schedule for tomorrow. Make a to do list for tomorrow.
- At the end of each work day, make it a point to clear your email. Read ORGANIZING YOUR LIFE for tips on organizing your email.
- Tackle your day with the goal to maximize your work day, such that you do not have any leftover work that will seep into your family time.
- If you have any downtime, use it to get ahead of a deadline.
- Limit interaction with people who waste your time.
- Learn to say no, politely.
- Use up most of your vacation time every year. You deserve it.
- Work towards having flexibility in your work schedule eg. Part time, no night calls or weekend calls, no after work obligations. There are usually several ways to get there, eg. Seniority, negotiation, make yourself indispensable, quit etc. Figure out how to get there.
Why is finances a “bucket”? Because it is the crux of work life balance. Can you afford to adjust your work to have more time for life?
Women tend to be uninterested or too busy to manage their own finances. If I could give any advice to my 20 year old self, this would be one of my top 3 advice. Take control of your finances.
- Read up on personal finance. Learn about investing. Learn about taxes. Learn how to avoid taxes (legally). This is the best time investment you will ever spend.
- Invest a portion of your paycheck. The leftover is for expenses.
- Time grows money. The earlier your start saving, the bigger bang for your buck later in life.
- Live well below your means. Most people who appear rich have very little in their back accounts. Very few people can do both.
- Learn about frugality, and teach your children that. It will serve them well in the long run.
- Take time to budget. Yearly and monthly budget would be sufficient. But do not nickel and dime yourself. Remember, balance.
ME, MYSELF AND I
Women tend to take care of everyone else but themselves. I work very hard to make sure I take care of myself, so others can have the best version of me.
- Work out in the morning. It takes about 2 months to form a habit if you are persistent, so make it a habit. Life will inevitably get in my way if I do not get the workout done in the morning.
- Eat well 80% of the time. Do the logical thing. Lots of fruits and vegetable and lean proteins. Do not drink your calorie. Limit refined carbohydrates. You know Doritos and donuts are not good for you.
- Declutter. Really. You do not need to own that many things.
- Employ some STRESS REDUCTION strategies.
- Minimize social media time. It is a time suck.
- Turn off email notification after office hours.
- Occasional splurge to pamper yourself.
A lot of folks put this last on their priority list, figuring that “when I have more time, I will do this”. That time, unfortunately, never materialized.
- No relationship survives without work. The secret sauce to long lasting relationship = the right person + hard work.
- Your relationship with your partner is just as important as your relationship with your child. Your child should not get 100% of your attention all the time. Your greatest gift to your child is a loving relationship with your partner.
- The daily work on your relationship (eg. Real kisses, gentle touches, hand holding, being kind, helping without being asked etc.), trumps the occasional splendid romantic gestures. But of course, if you can afford to do the Fifty Shades of Grey romance everyday, go for it!
- Make it a point to talk every evening. Not just about work, kids or problems. Talk about fun things, gossips, plans, hopes and dreams. Things you talked about in the beginning.
- Sex. Make time for it, plan for it, just do it. It is not the most important thing but it is a very important aspect of any relationship. When there is lack of sex, it is usually because there is an underlying problem.
- Schedule dates.
- Most important tip: It is much easier to maintain a relationship than to fix a broken one.
- Unplug and go down to his/her level and PLAY. At least 30 minutes of uninterrupted play time each day. Quality matters way more than quantity.
- Read a book and sing a song every night. I make it a point to never miss bedtime routine.
- Hug, kiss and say I love you. Every day. A child can never be shown too much affection.
- Use 1 weekend day to plan activities centered around your child. So often, we end up lugging our child along to run our errands or meet our friends or do what we want.
These are my discretionary time. It is an area I do not do well. Remember the part about no one can have it all? This is my “something has got to give”.
- Spend time with family. If you have a huge family, try to consolidate family meetings so you do not end up with family events every single weekends.
- Have very few really good friends and spend time with them.
- Make time for hobbies or passions.
- Delegate, automate, simplify or outsource things that are low on your priority list.
Happy finding your happy middle ground!