Do you struggle with work-life balance? This question comes up all the time, at least once or twice a week. How do we balance work and our personal lives? The answer is you don’t. You should separate them completely.
According to a Harvard Business School Survey, 94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week. I get it. I was there. I was driven by having a successful career and a full bank account so that I could take care of my family. However, what I was really doing was taking time away from my family. I thought I would be creating an easier future, one without requiring my children take out school loans or work full-time while going to college. But what if they decided they weren’t going to go? What if they wanted to be a DJ or fulfill their childhood dream of starting their own business selling lemonade? All kidding aside, as much as I want to think I can control my kids at 18, I don’t know for sure if they will seek a higher education. Instead of living in the present, noticing the people in front of me who just wanted me to sit down and talk to them, I was busy on my computer and phone from morning to night, stressed out about things I really couldn’t control. I poured myself into my work, because it was the only thing I knew how to do. Thankfully, I realized that I needed to change my priorities. I separated work from my life and started to prioritize my life around my work. I was going to turn this around. Thank God I did. I decided that I had to (in my mind) completely separate the two.
Why is it important?
Pouring your life into your work is a trap that many of us find ourselves in and cannot crawl out of. Let’s face it. No one is going to give you your dream life on a silver platter. It is your responsibility to determine the kind of life that you want to lead because if you don’t design your life, someone else will do it for you and most likely, you aren’t going to like it.
So what do we really mean when we say work-life separation? It’s different for everyone, so you decide, what does it look like when you think about separating work from your personal life? When you have a greater sense of control over your own life, you can leave work issues at work and home issues at home. Studies show that people do are more productive and do a better job at work when they can separate work from their own lives. They are more motivated and less stressed – just happier overall. Happiness is one of the most coveted feelings we all seek, every single day. It’s such a simple emotion, yet we all want it and crave it. That’s why work-life separation is important — so that there are happier people in the world.
Tips on achieving work-life separation
- Who cares about being perfect. Let’s just throw this out the window. It will never be perfect – the project, the process, your hair. There will always be room for improvement so stop obsessing over it and just do your best. If you expect perfection, you will fail. There is no such thing, even with extra firm hairspray.
- Create boundaries at work and stick to it. Decide when you will come in and what time you will leave. If you aren’t able to do this without talking to your boss first, then set up a meeting and have a conversation. Have an open conversation about expectations during after work hours. If you feel like you are still having to work around the clock, then you will need to figure out what is more important to you — your job or having a real life. I really hope it’s the latter.
- Put down your phone and protect your private time. When you are not at work, put your phone away. I will admit, I struggle with this. Some might say that they are not addicted to technology, yet the average person spends at least 3 hours a day on their phones. Before smart phones became available, the number was 18 minutes! Phones aren’t drugs. Let’s not get addicted and just put it down, in your dresser, in your purse, in your briefcase. Put it someplace where it isn’t easy to get to. Most of the time , when it has to do with work, it’s not an emergency and it can wait for the next business day. You will be OK without it for a few hours. Promise.
I wake my tired body up at 4:45 am, 3 days a week to go work out, head to work at 6:45 am, leave work at 3pm and do not look at emails or answer calls related to work, once I step out of that door. From 3 to 5pm, I am meeting with my coaching clients or with my team. Afterwards, I am with my family, eating dinner, joking around, telling stories, talking about our next vacation, playing the “would you rather” game, sitting and snuggling with my boys. The best part of my day is getting to spend dinner with them and tucking my sweet boys into bed. My time is blocked to spend with my children and my husband. That is non-negotiable. You have to make that time to spend with the people who are important to you. Your job certainly won’t do that for you, I guarantee it. And if it does, you are one lucky duck.
No matter how successful you are, or how much money you make, if your life is built around your job and not your job around your life, you won’t have time to nurture fulfilling relationships with people you love, or have the time to build any relationships, all of that money you make doesn’t really matter then, does it?
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