Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Work Life Balance Reality Check

It seems there's always a reason to be busy. When the economy is good, we're busy because there's too much work coming in. When the economy is bad, we're busy because we have to do more with less. Even the actual word business implies that to be productive we have to always be busy (i.e. "busy-ness"). Is there any room for work life balance in this busy work world we've created?

For that answer and a reality check on the state of work life balance in the current economy, I interviewed work life expert Cali Williams Yost this week on Making a Living. According to a recent study conducted by Work+Life Fit, Inc., work life flexibility survives and is here to stay as employers surveyed continue to give access to flexible work options the same amount or more than they have in the past.

So flexibility exists, the question is how do you get it? To answer that question, Cali and I discussed some key steps.

--Take Ownership of Your Schedule. Most people would have better work life balance if they made more conscious decisions about where they are spending their time. Cali suggests putting down all of your work and personal commitments into one calendar so you can truly see what you've committed to. Once you know where your time is going, you can be more conscious about spending time on top priority work and personal activities.
--Be Proactive. If you want a flexible work arrangement, its best if you go to your boss with options. Most managers are too busy themselves to focus on how to best manage your work/life. You know your job best so come up with a better, faster or cheaper way to get work done in a way that fits your flexible schedule and your boss will be more apt to say yes.
--Think Fit not Balance. Cali is famous for revolutionizing the way we look at work and life. She says that balance presents an all or nothing approach that is unrealistic for most people. She recommends instead to focus on finding the right fit between work and life that suits your needs not some 50/50 standard.

There's more to making a great living than just being busy. In fact, if it's not about being busy at all. It's about making conscious choices about how you spend your work and personal time so you are always doing what's most important to you!

For more work life tips join me for the next Making a Living with Maggie on Wednesday at 4pm EST. I'll be talking about ways you can be most productive and work smarter not harder.


craig said...

I tend to lose my work life balance (or fit) when I lose my focus. That is why I totally agree with taking ownership. It is not the other people put demands on my time, but more of the fact I need focus on one task at a time, be true to myself about what I can accomplish today, know my priority (which needs to include 'fun time'), and know it is ok that all items may not be completed on my to-do list. I just need to set that expectation with my boss and / or myself. No sense to worry or feel any guilt, those are just useless emotions.

stay adventurous,

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Maggie!

Today I summoned the nerve to negotiate for a more flexible schedule and for additional telecommuting - and it worked! I'm thrilled, relieved and my family is happy too.

But Craig is right - it was up to me. I'm glad I did it.