Work life balance is absolutely essential in order to lead a fulfilled and happy life. However, it can often be difficult to identify what that divide should be. What others deem to be reasonable could be completely different to what you consider appropriate – and vice versa!
Personally, I consider 60 hours a week for an MD to be adequate time spent at work. This leaves plenty of opportunities to spend time with family and friends, but also gives you the capacity to focus on your interests and leisure pursuits. I choose to put family and health first and let everything else follow that – this helps to keep my priorities in check.
It is ever more important when you have a little one at home to find the balance between work and home life. You cannot do well at both if you have exhausted yourself. Personally, I cannot concentrate at work if I have something hanging over me from home and vice versa. I always ensure that ‘today is not finished until tomorrow is planned’. I always feel better once I have planned my time and priorities.
For me to get the right balance I have to remember to ‘Put the Rocks in the Jar’. Following Dr Stephen R. Covey teachings, it is essential that I ring fence time for the most important tasks (rocks) and put them into my diary (the jar) and do not move these. For work, this tends to be strategic time, staff 1-2-1’s and client pitches and at home this is bath time (not for me but Joseph) each night and time with my wife.
Being a leader in a business it is important that you have time to be creative and innovative and this is only possible with downtime. It is not believable to say I switch off from work when I am at home or socialising as for me this is when I get some of my greatest clarity for business decisions.
It’s both normal and understandable for someone to have a different work-life balance compared to you. Everybody’s priorities are different and are shifting all the time. It’s important to understand that there is no ‘right’ amount of time you should be spending at or away from work – it is what you feel suitable for your lifestyle. Don’t feel pressured to be working day and night just because you know someone who does – it doesn’t mean you are working less hard, it just means they have different priorities.
And as they say: work smarter, not harder!
And don’t forget to take a break – if you aren’t well rested you’re going to find it increasingly more difficult to focus in the workplace. This means actually switching off from work and doing something completely different to what you normally do in the office. I like to spend time cooking or going to the gym to rest from work. I find these really helpful ways to take my mind away from work stresses. Everyone needs time-out to be able to come back fresh and ready to face the challenges of the business world. There are people out there who do enjoy being in work mode all of the time – a lot of people live for their businesses which is absolutely fine, but just know that you don’t have to be the same.
Being productive is more than just being at work and being at work doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily being productive. It’s pointless working extra hours if you aren’t able to generate a good result. Often, simply knowing that you have a long period of time to complete a task can lead to distractions and unproductivity. Indeed, we will often fill the time available to us, and not always wisely!
There are also additional benefits from having time away from work. It gives you the ability to develop skills in other areas which you might never need to use in the workplace, but also the freedom to work on personal development which can have tremendous corporate value. One good habit to adopt is managing your non-work calendar in a similar way to the one you have in the office – proactively schedule time towards non-work pursuits and you’ll be amazed how much you will look forward to these activities, and how rewarding this time can be. Moreover, any new skills picked up along the way will only make your work life more effective and your personal life more fulfilled.
To conclude, balance can be described as an even distribution of weight but I know that when talking about work-life balance this cannot always be the case. Throughout life it is important to recognise work or life will need a disproportionate amount of time but we must all work hard to try and find a consistent balance. It is essential you work smart and not hard with regular breaks from work for health, family and sanity. I assure you, you will be a better business leader for it.