Not everyone suffers with work/life balance…but I must say, most of the executives and leaders I interact with are faced with tension between their work and their life—either continually, frequently or sometimes.
It’s only a minority that doesn’t have a problem with the hours they work—either because their job isn’t pushing up against their work/life boundary, or because they’re happy putting in long hours.
For example, I work long hours—into the evening and a number of hours every weekend. Most of the time the satisfaction that my work brings me means I’m not bothered by these hours—but occasionally I’d much prefer to have more life in my life .
How is your work/life balance? Are you content and satisfied with the time you commit to your work and your non-work roles, or do you want more life in your life?
Causes Of Your Work/Life Conflict—And Potential Solutions
The linchpin of your work/life imbalance could be related to where your focus has been (wittingly or unwittingly), the way you’ve been managing your time, how well you’ve been managing your finances, and/or your communication habits.
Check out these potential causes and decide what refinements you could make:
1. Fuzzy Boundaries
It’s critical that you know what your boundaries are: What are your needs and expectations around the commitment you have to your job, how much work you take home, how many hours you spend in the office, how available you are outside of office hours, etc.
It’s only when you’re clear about your boundaries will you be able to take steps towards reducing your work/life conflict. Then it might be clear to you that you, for example, need to train people out of expecting you to be available 24/7 via your smart phone, or you need to reduce your unrealistic expectations about how much work you’ll complete at home.
2. No Out-Of-Work Goals
You have clarity on your at-work goals, KPIs and the like, right? However you don’t have nearly the same clarity about your out-of-work goals.
Consistently when out-of-balance leaders develop out-of-work goals—family goals, health goals, fitness goals, financial goals, social goals—they naturally enhance their work/life integration. They stop neglecting out-of-work stuff that’s actually important to them.
3. Out Of Control Start-And-Finish Times
Research tells us that you’ll experience work/life stress if you don’t feel like you have a choice about the time of the day you start and stop work. It’s stress inducing when you don’t feel like you’re in control of how long you spend in the office.
Given that you’re clear on your boundaries, what do you need to arrange so you reduce your stress here?
For example, if you’re reluctantly and submissively accepting invitations to 8 am meetings, train people out of expecting you to be available. Be direct with your thoughts and feelings.
You need to accept that, at the end of the day, you actually do have a choice about the hours you work—and be happy with the choice you make.
4. Delegation Habits Need Strengthening
It’s common for a leader to suffer from a work/life imbalance because they haven’t habituated effective delegation habits.
It’s not difficult to take this bull by the horns: You’ll get it handled when you apply the pointers in my previous Leadership Bulletin on this topic.
5. Financial Stressors
For whatever reason, are your outgoings too high in relation to your income? This too will give you a diminished sense of choice about the effort you put into your work. Again, it’s this sense of not being able to choose that results in you feeling resentful, which leads to increased stress and work/life conflict.
When you think carefully about the consequences of your financial pressures, is it something you’re prepared to accept? Or would you be well served to take action to either reduce your outgoings or increase what comes in?
6. Are You Too Long-Winded?
You’ve noticed that some people talk a lot, either repeating things they’ve said, or delving in to too much detail, or always needing to tell a story, right? And you’ve noticed how time consuming that is for both of you?
If you’re one of these wordy leaders, make sure you don’t complain that you need to take work home because you can’t get enough done in the office J.
Think about the consequences of your wordiness, on your workload, on others and on your work/life conflict. Before you enter into a conversation, know your intended outcome—and stay focused on that outcome throughout the conversation.
Your Leadership Call to Action
- First, get really clear on what would constitute good work/life balance for you. Know your boundaries..
- Then, using the above list of potential causes and solutions, determine what important actions you need to take.
Remember, no one on his or her deathbed says, “I wish I’d spent more time in the office!”
Sorry to finish on such a morbid note. Be happy as you work towards creating more work/life integration.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.