Throughout my career, I have worked in a variety of positions from retail/customer service to healthcare management positions. In all of these career streams, I have always put my all into my work. When I took my first leadership position, I was managing a team of 80 individuals. I worked part-time to full-time in the hospital, put in many administrative hours at home, and went to school full-time. School often took a back burner because I was more focused on my work. It was something I was doing for others and that I was seeing success in. In addition, my personal life took a back seat to my job as well, but it took me a long time to see this.
How did my time management look during this season in my life? I would wake up and immediately check emails, work calls, etc. I would then go to class Monday-Thursday. In between classes and sometimes during classes, I was working. When class was over, I was working. In the beginning I worked over-night shifts Monday-Thursday. So, typically there was a nap in there somewhere and a lot of Mountain Dew. My weekends were a mix of studying and working. I remember making trips home to see my family. I do not remember much about the time I was there. I was nose deep in my laptop or on my phone working. I was very accessible. I could be reached by phone, by text, and by email. It was in constant work mode. I knew I needed a change, but I knew that I could not bring myself to change in my current role. I was overly dedicated and fixated on my program to a fault.
What did I learn? I learned that the key to work – life balance is within all of us. It is our ability to set boundaries/expectations for others and ourselves. It is in our ability to unplug and actually live! Below are my TOP 4 Expectations and Boundaries for My Work – Life Balance. This is important no matter your season of life or career.
Set Work Hours
Whether you work from home, work in an office, or work for yourself. It is important to set work hours. You may read this and say my work hours are set for me. Or Sometimes I have no choice but to work more. I have a lot of work to do. People depend on me. These statements can go on and on. I have said all of these statements. I know the struggle. It is real. BUT this is important.
If you are scheduled to work 8-5pm, then you need to leave at 5 pm unless something needs to be completed that day or there is an emergency. How do you leave when you feel like your job is not done? There will always be work to do. That is just the simple problem and fact of work. It is often never ending. Start and end your day with a review of your week/month/etc. At the end of my day, I plan for the next day. I review what was accomplished and what needs my attention. In the morning, I review my emails and work from this list. Now, things will change or come up. That is expected. But this is meant to be a guide to your success and keep you focused.
If you are salaried, this can be challenging. It almost feels like an unwritten expectation or culture to work later or through lunch. I probably fight this everyday. Sometimes, I am more successful than others. Do not feel guilty for taking a lunch or for leaving on time. Do not feel guilty for working your 8 hours and going home. Why should I go home and not feel guilty? Your work will be there. Every time you say YES to working later or through lunch, you say NO to something else. You say NO to time with your family. You say NO to time with friends. You say NO to self-care. Yes, write this down if you need to. Life is worth living, so live. Time is short and your family and friends are important today.
In today’s world, we are more accessible than EVER. It, like anything, has its pros and cons. We need to set expectations for ourselves and try NOT to bring our work home. How do I unplug from work when I am so accessible?
I do not have my email coming to my phone. If it does, I feel the need to check it or work on something. If I need to access my email, I can do so. I am protective of my time at home, so I only do this in emergent or necessary situations.
When I wake up in the morning, I do not check my emails or other messages. It is tempting to start my day like this, but it is better to take care of you first. I start with a cup of coffee, the news, meditations, and a little reading. This helps energize me and truly helps me to feel ready for the day.
If you need to check an email or manage a sick call, etc. Do so. If it is an expectation of your job, than meet that expectation. But take care of that one emergent or time sensitive issue and STOP. Yes, you heard me. You need time for you and yours. This will help give you more energy and allow you to be more productive.
Yes, there are times when you feel like you have a lot of work to do and there is no time for anything. This may include bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, or mental health breaks. You need to care for your needs too. This ultimately will help energize you and allow you to be more productive. It is okay to step away from work. It is better if you do so appropriately. Schedule in this time. Be protective of it. Remember that every time you say YES to something you say NO to something else.
Do not take your Work home with you
It is easy for us to want to work at home or to take the emotional baggage of work home with us. I have been known to do this and something still do! Don’t. It is not a value to you or your family. How do I stop this? Unwind on your way home. This could include a call with a friend/family, listening to music, or listening to a Podcast. I truly enjoy listening to my Podcasts. I choose the positive message I need. I choose to be present and in the moment listening to this message. My mind will drift to something at work. Maybe something I forgot to do. Make note of it. Maybe set a remember on your phone or ask someone to remind you. But then allow that thought to pass. If it is a emotional, frustrated or anxious thought. Take a deep breathe and allow that thought to pass to. Do not let it build, but rather float away. Replace it with a positive thought or feeling.
What if you work from home? What if you are a work from home momma? This can be more challenging because you cannot walk away or leave your work behind. Try to limit your work space to one place in the home and set hours for yourself. If you are a work from home parent or stay at home parent, this can be even more challenging. Ask your spouse or a friend to give you space. You need to recharge. After the kids go to bed, take some time for you. I know this is easier said than done, but make it a priority. Make yourself a priority.
Do not forgot the benefits of meditation and deep breathing. It takes a lot of practice, but it truly can help you live in the moment. You are not in the future or the past. You cannot change your past and you can only influence your future with the here and now. So, live in the present. Put the laptop down and choose to live in this moment. You will be more productive at work, you will be more energized, and your family will be enhanced by your positive vibe. Do not continue to put this off. Take action today and set your expectations for you, for your life. Choose a more intentional life TODAY!
I am with you and want you to achieve the life you are wanting!