Work/Family Balance: 4-Tips to Balance Your Life Today!
The elusive work/family balance seems to be pretty prevalent in all circles. If you’re single, you’re working too hard and neglecting your life. If you’re married, you’re working too hard and neglecting your wife. If you’re married with children, then you’re in big trouble. Perfect balance would be 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work and 8 hours of family/fun time. If you’re like me, it probably is more like 7 hours of sleep, 10 hours of work and 7 hours of family/fun time. So how do you achieve the perfect work/family balance? I don’t know the full answer, but I can offer up the following tips that have helped me find a little more balance in work and life.
1. Avoid Your Cell Phone at Home
This one should be pretty easy, but it proves to be the most difficult. Put your cell phone away from the time you get home until you go to bed. You have a limited amount of time in the evening with your wife and kids. Do not let your cell phone distract you. For me, I get home around 5 pm and go to bed at 9:30 pm. That’s 4 1/2 hours to spend quality time with my family. I can’t be present and with them if I ‘m checking social media or texting with my buds. I’m challenging myself to put the phone away on weeknights and I challenge you to do the same. It’s not always the amount of time with your family, but the amount of quality time with your family. The same holds true with your friends. If you’re out with your buds, don’t answer a bunch of text messages from other friends or even your wife. Be present with whomever you’re with by putting the cell phone away.
**Bonus Tip** – Set your notifications to silent and hide the apps that get your attention. If you don’t know what’s going on or you have to work to find the app, you’re more likely to ignore your phone altogether.
2. Use Drive Time to Your Advantage
I spend 30 minutes going and 30 minutes returning from work. I used to spend this time listening to sports talk radio or music. I wasn’t really learning anything and I can’t really say I was entertained. Podcasts and audio books have replaced the radio and as a result, I use my drive time to learn. I’m a slow reader, so getting in audible learning has been great. Most of my growth over the past has come from my use of the commute to and from work. I don’t really have any other time to learn. If I’m at work, I’m focused on work. If I’m at home, I’m focused on my wife and kids. My commute is my classroom. Get your phone to hook up to your car speakers or put in ear buds. You’ve just turned a pretty useless drive into 250+ hours of learning each year.
3. Set Limits at Work
Are you working towards a goal, or are you just working? My goal is to be out of the office by 4:30 every day. From 7:30 am to 4:30 pm, I should be able to accomplish everything I need for the day. In the past, I would work from 7:30 and not leave until 6:00 pm. I wasn’t getting any more work done, I just hadn’t set a limit to when I needed to complete my work. By setting a time to leave, you become more efficient and effective at work. You’ll even start to find more time to complete other projects and get ahead.
**Bonus Tip** – Schedule your day into hour long blocks. Not only will this keep you on track for the day, you’ll be able to see where you can gain time. If you can gain time and be more efficient, then maybe you can leave an hour earlier.
4. Get Into a Morning Routine
The morning is my time. I wake at 5:00 am and have until 6:30 am for myself. I brush my teeth, shower and dress and then head to the room over the garage. The next hour is my time to take care of myself. I have a daily practice of prayer, meditation and then gratitude. Following my entries into my gratitude journal, I take care of blogging, paying the bills, or just goofing off. Instead of needing time to “decompress” following the work day, I’ve already prepared myself for the entire day with my morning routine. The 1 1/2 hours in the morning set me up for success the rest of the day.
While I’m not sure how to get to a perfect balance, these four tips have helped. I’m not too far off. If I can shave off another 2 hours of work, I’ll be able to get to that perfect balance. In the end, a perfect work/family balance is a great goal. If you’re working to achieve it, then you’re always heading in the right direction.
What tips and tricks do you use to help with your work/family balance?