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Creating a Healthy Work and Family Life Balance

Creating a Healthy Work and Family Life Balance

Balancing Work & Family – 10 Expert steps for developing a healthier balance between your work and family life.

Achieving balance can feel like one of the most challenging things in life. Whether that’s a balance between spending or saving, going out or staying home, balance is not a natural state for many of us.

More so when it comes to balancing work and family, at times this can feel impossible. We either focus so much on our work that we never see our family, or we focus so much on family that our work suffers as a result.

A good friend of mine got his dream job last year and at almost the same time as he moved forward in his career, his wife moved out… They never saw each other anymore as he was always at work.

To achieve balance we first need to recognise that our goals in work and at home go hand in hand, success in each is significantly enhanced by success in the other.

The old proverb, “behind every good man is a great women” is very true and not restricted to men or women. Behind a successful person there is so often families and friends that love and support them. To achieve meaningful success we need to value our lives at work and at home.

To create balance takes intentional action from us to change our behaviour and develop new healthier routines. Below are ten expert tips to help you create a healthy balance between work and family life.

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1. Plan

Regular planning is essential to effectively balance work and family life. Try every evening planning out what you need and want to achieve for the coming day and then prioritise. These goals should be split over both work and family so both get your attention.

This doesn’t have to be complicated, start with what you have to do each day, see what time you have left and then plan in what you want to do. Prioritise what’s most important for the coming day and focus on getting this done before you do anything else. Try to be ambitious but don’t make it unachievable.

In years gone by I started to get up earlier and earlier each morning to deliver an unachievable list of objectives. I thought that I was showing dedication but I wasn’t working smart. I was only working myself into an early grave.

Create a Plan
Create a Plan

As a result I was shattered and everything suffered as a result, both at work and at home. I‘d have really productive days but then be so tired that I’d barely get anything done for days and days afterwards.

These days, every evening I write down two to four things that I will be proud of achieving the following day and focus my energy on delivering these. When I can do more I do but I focus on what matters first and I don’t burn myself out.

Maintaining energy is so important so you can go again the next day.

If you’re struggling to effectively plan, check out my guide to help you get super organised.

2. Switch Off

Set time boundaries for your work and focus your energy within this time.

It’s really important to have some limits on your working hours, otherwise these can get out of control. This could be a rule that the laptop and phone don’t come out at home or not after a certain time or at all at weekend. You must give yourself time to switch off from work and re-energise.

Ultimately working excessive hours doesn’t add value long term, you will find you lose your perspective, plus your work and mental/physical health will suffer.

Every day have time set aside for you and your family where work doesn’t intrude.

I used to sneer at people who set limits on work, thinking “do they not want to get on and to be successful”. Only when I started setting sensible limits myself did I realise that this is essential to keep performing at your best.

It’s not about working as many hours as you can, but achieving as much as you can in the hours that you work. Similarly make your family time as high value as you can, get out and do something together that makes you smile and brings you closer together. 

3. Develop a Routine

Developing a better work and family life balance takes time and is about creating positive daily routines that become second nature. Whether this is no laptops out at home or taking the family out one night of the week, our success is in the routine itself; making an effort one week only just won’t cut it.

Some research has shown that it takes 60 day to create a new routine. If you can get through the first 60 days without giving up then your odds of successfully changing your habitual behaviour significantly improve.

4. Book Holidays

A great way to create a healthier balance between your work and family life is to book some holidays. By booking leave it gives you earmarked time for you and your family to enjoy together.

Once you have leave booked you can start planning as a family what you will do and where you will go with this time together, which is great fun.

Family Time
Family Time

It’s really important to regularly take leave and spend time with your nearest and dearest. This helps you all to keep going when things get tough and to reenergise.

5. Start Early

A great way to create a healthier balance between your work and family life is to get started with your work early in the day when your children are still sleeping. By starting early you are not taking time away from the family but can still create a little more time to focus on your career.

I used to work late and would miss my evenings with my daughter as when I got home she would already be in bed. Now I get started with my work early in the day whilst she is still sleeping and I finish work as soon in the day as practical. This means we can all get home at a similar time in the evening and spend time together as a family.

Starting your days early isn’t just about finding a couple more hours for work. Lots of research has shown that the first few hours after you wake are usually your most productive of the day. By attacking important tasks early in the morning you can completely focus and power through tons of work.

6. Find Shared Interests

To make the most of your free time as a family, look for things that you can do together that you will all enjoy. One factor that exacerbates a lack of family time for many is that even when we’re not working, the family are all pursuing individual interests and hobbies.

Plan in some family activities each week, even if these are just for a couple of hours. It’s so important to get some time together as a family. Outdoor activities, such as walking or sports are a great way to get out together, have a conversation and improve your health at the same time.

7. Prioritise

Prioritising what’s most important for the coming day is key to creating a healthier balance between your work and family life. Sometimes there simply isn’t enough time to do everything, so determine what’s most important at work and at home and focus your energy on this.

Once you’ve prioritised it’s important to focus your attention on these areas and not allow yourself to become distracted. If there is a significant change in the situation such as an urgent piece of work or a family emergency then you should reprioritise at that point.

8. Delegate

Where you have support around you, use it! Delegate work to colleagues who are better placed to deliver a certain task. Delegation is a game changer because as soon as you get other people helping you achieve your goals your impact and effectiveness will significantly jump.

Delegation can help you reduce the burden on your time and energy and improve your overall productivity. More so the time that is freed up enables you to achieve a healthier balance between your work and family life.

You can adopt a similar approach with delegation at home to balance family responsibilities. You might be best placed to pick up the kids in the morning, but your spouse, partner or even the children may be better placed to pick up some of the other household responsibilities.

Becoming a master of delegation makes you more effective at work but also makes more time for you and your family to spend together. 

9. Make Time for You

Family and work are both hugely important but to excel in either you do need to look after you. Don’t spread yourself too thin and ensure you give yourself some time to rest and recharge each week.

Think about what you can do to look after your own wellbeing and then plan this in, agreeing boundaries with your spouse or partner so they are on board and supportive. This could be a trip to the gym a few nights a week or sometime to watch the game at the weekend.

Make Time For You
Make Time For You

Some “you time” is essential but this does work both ways so discuss with your partner and agree something you are both comfortable with. 

10. Manage your Energy

Managing your energy is just as important as managing your time. There is a Chinese proverb about the folly of an army charging into battle when exhausted from days of marching. The suggestion being that result of such an action is almost certainly disaster.

Many of us do this in our lives every day. We totally burn ourselves out but try to push on, to keep going and as a result deliver substandard results at home and at work.

A key part of prioritising is in recognising that you are not a machine and that your mind and body need rest in order for you to perform at your best. When you are completing your daily planning you should give yourself opportunities to take a break especially when you feel exhaustion creeping in.

Thank you for Reading

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