Why do Work and Life have to Compete?

There’s so much buzz recently about work-life balance from “leaning in” to commentaries on how there is no such thing as work-life balance. What does this all mean?

At the core of all this sensationalism is one basic premise, we all want to have quality meaningful time with our loved ones while at the same time being able to achieve success in our chosen profession.

In years past, being able to have a successful family and career life was not as big of an issue as fewer women were part of the work force, and gender roles were entrenched within society. As women continue to excel in their careers, and men take an active role at home, the issue of how to manage home while still giving it your all at work has come quite a perplexing question.

Part of the answer lies with organizations to provide their employees with more flexibility and options. Millennials, in particular, identify work-life balance as a priority which even surpasses compensation. If businesses want to retain top talent, they’d be wise to take steps to ensure that work place policies are supportive of flexible work arrangements.

The other side of the answer lies within you.

As a young mother, I have worked through this myself and have found some strategies so that my home life and work life aren’t always competing with each other.

Write down your goals. What do you want to achieve at work? Perhaps it’s becoming a manager within the next 2 years. What do you want to achieve at home? Perhaps you want teach your child to swim this summer. The first step to successfully balancing work and home is to know, specifically, what you want to achieve at work and home. Once you identify these goals, you can then break them down into smaller steps and block off time on your calendar to work towards these goals. Make these hard appointments that you do not cancel or move.

Outsource and Incorporate. If there are things that are sucking up your time, try to figure out a way to outsource this work or incorporate it into your family or work time. If you have laundry to fold, get your kids to help and use the time to connect by sharing stories about your week. If you have a long commute to work, try to work from home a couple days a week so that you can use that time towards other tasks.

Be Present. Imagine trying to make a grocery list while playing tennis. This just doesn’t work. You have to be present and focus on the task at hand. When at work, focus on work. Don’t worry about chores, or appointments, or that the dishwasher needs to be repaired. When at home, focus on home. Do not be a slave to your cell phone and let it take you away from important conversations about Legos with your children.

Plan things out, but be ready for chaos. Planning out your time each day, week and month makes it much easier to accomplish your goals. But, especially if you have kids, always be prepared for the unexpected. You can’t let yourself get overly stressed when things don’t go accordingly to plan. You have to be prepared to wing it a little and go with the flow, for the sake of your own sanity.