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5 Ways to Improve Your Work-Life Balance Right Now

5 Ways to Improve Your Work-Life Balance Right Now

We’ve all heard that work-life balance is about being balanced across a period of time vs. at a specific moment.  But we also know that those day to day moments can be pretty excruciating. While finding a more flexible position, planning a vacation, moving to shorten the commute, or remembering that this busy period will pass are all on the radar, what can we do today – right now, without drastic changes in our lives or jobs – to make things better? Try these 5 things to help you feel more balanced right now:

Don’t work every evening.

There used to be a time when “quittin’ time” meant just that. Office technology has made huge advances in recent years:  we no longer have to be disconnected or unable to work when traveling, sick, or working from home. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to ever stop working. It may be part of your workplace culture to log back in every evening after dinner, but just don’t do it for a few nights and see what happens. Take time after work to relax and focus on other areas of your life. You’ll know when something is enough of an emergency to keep working after hours. A general rule of thumb I use is if this is something someone would have picked up the phone and called me about ten years ago after house, then it’s worth being responsive.  If not, it can wait until the next business day.

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Don’t look at email / monitor work communications when you’re not at work.

This is a tough one. To simplify our lives, we’ve combined our personal and workplace devices. The endless pings of emails and instant messages could drive one to insanity or exuberance:  studies show that the simple act of checking your email is addictive. Even if you’re not on your computer working, continually monitoring work communications means that you’re not able to disconnect from your job and fully focus on other aspects of your life.  So, cut the cord. Tell your staff, manager, or colleagues that the best way to reach you when you’re not in the office is by phone. And while this may seem scary at first, it’s really not. Think back to times that you’ve tried to reach someone by email or text message. If they didn’t get back to you right away and it was urgent, you called them. If not, you waited until the next business day. To help break the habit, set a fifteen minute block in the evening or early in the morning where you shift your focus to checking emails and other office communications, if you absolutely have to. After a few weeks, you’ll probably discover that it’s not needed.

Treat weekends like vacations.

Weekends are your time to rest, recover, and recuperate. Don’t waste them. Set a drop dead time for yourself (e.g. 5pm on Friday) when you will officially stop working on office related work. Then, go enjoy your weekend. Resist the urge to get back online on Sunday nights – this is a habit made popular by those that want to “get ahead” of the week. It’s not needed, necessary, or even practical most of the time. Enjoy your Sunday evening and return to work on Monday morning refreshed and ready to go. The major plus of not working on Sunday night: on Monday morning, your email will have the full picture from all the responses and information that got disseminated by those who couldn’t stay offline the previous evening, so you’ll be fully caught up.

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Always make yourself whole.

Many people think that giving up personal time in the evenings or weekends is what’s expected from their jobs – and that may be true sometimes. But it’s not expected that you never take that time back and make yourself whole again. If you have a rough couple of weeks while a major project is in full swing, plan a day or two off as comp days after the project launches. Use that time to treat yourself, catch up on personal responsibilities, or just rest and recover. Organizations will take what you give them, so don’t give them everything. And if they take more than their fair share for a little while, take it back for yourself when it makes sense.

Use mobility for productivity and flexibility… not to stay “always connected.”

Technology has changed the way we work and it’s up to use to use it in a way that’s most effective. This means rethinking the purpose of mobility. Being able to work from anywhere makes sense when you are traveling, or need to escape to a quieter, less distracting environment to work on a presentation or whitepaper, or when you need to finish up something you couldn’t complete since you had to leave the office early to pick up your child from school. Using mobile technology in a way that enhances your life is important; don’t use it as a way to extend your work day unnecessarily, or to stay connected when you really should be focusing on something else.

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These five things are easy to implement and don’t require any major job or life changes. And bringing them into your life may have an unexpected effect: you may be more engaged and perform better at work! Staying balanced and making sure you take time for yourself each day will enusre that the time you spend at work is the more productive and fulfilling.

Featured photo credit: Working / Adrian Scottow via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

10 Huge Differences Between A Boss And A Leader

10 Huge Differences Between A Boss And A Leader

When you try to think of a leader at your place of work, you might think of your boss – you know, the supervisor in the tasteful office down the hall.

However, bosses are not the only leaders in the office, and not every boss has mastered the art of excellent leadership. Maybe the best leader you know is the co-worker sitting at the desk next to yours who is always willing to loan out her stapler and help you problem solve.

You see, a boss’ main priority is to efficiently cross items off of the corporate to-do list, while a true leader both completes tasks and works to empower and motivate the people he or she interacts with on a daily basis.

A leader is someone who works to improve things instead of focusing on the negatives. People acknowledge the authority of a boss, but people cherish a true leader.

Puzzled about what it takes to be a great leader? Let’s take a look at the difference between a boss and a leader, and why cultivating quality leadership skills is essential for people who really want to make a positive impact.

1. Leaders are compassionate human beings; bosses are cold.

It can be easy to equate professionalism with robot-like impersonal behavior. Many bosses stay holed up in their offices and barely ever interact with staff.

Even if your schedule is packed, you should always make time to reach out to the people around you. Remember that when you ask someone to share how they are feeling, you should be prepared to be vulnerable and open in your communication as well.

Does acting human at the office sound silly? It’s not.

A lack of compassion in the office leads to psychological turmoil, whereas positive connection leads to healthier staff.[1]

If people feel that you are being open, honest and compassionate with them, they will feel able to approach your office with what is on their minds, leading to a more productive and stress-free work environment.

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2. Leaders say “we”; bosses say “I”.

Practice developing a team-first mentality when thinking and speaking. In meetings, talk about trying to meet deadlines as a team instead of using accusatory “you” phrases. This makes it clear that you are a part of the team, too, and that you are willing to work hard and support your team members.

Let me explain:

A “we” mentality shifts the office dynamic from “trying to make the boss happy” to a spirit of teamwork, goal-setting, and accomplishment.

A “we” mentality allows for the accountability and community that is essential in the modern day workplace.

3. Leaders develop and invest in people; bosses use people.

Unfortunately, many office climates involve people using others to get what they want or to climb the corporate ladder. This is another example of the “me first” mentality that is so toxic in both office environments and personal relationships.

Instead of using others or focusing on your needs, think about how you can help other people grow.

Use your building blocks of compassion and team-mentality to stay attuned to the needs of others note the areas in which you can help them develop. A great leader wants to see his or her people flourish.

Make a list of ways you can invest in your team members to help them develop personally and professionally, and then take action!

4. Leaders respect people; bosses are fear-mongering.

Earning respect from everyone on your team will take time and commitment, but the rewards are worth every ounce of effort.

A boss who is a poor leader may try to control the office through fear and bully-like behavior. Employees who are petrified about their performance or who feel overwhelmed and stressed by unfair deadlines are probably working for a boss who uses a fear system instead of a respect system.

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What’s the bottom line?

Work to build respect among your team by treating everyone with fairness and kindness. Maintain a positive tone and stay reliable for those who approach you for help.

5. Leaders give credit where it’s due; bosses only take credits.

Looking for specific ways to gain respect from your colleagues and employees? There is no better place to start than with the simple act of giving credit where it is due.

Don’t be tempted to take credit for things you didn’t do, and always go above and beyond to generously acknowledge those who worked on a project and performed well.

You might be wondering how you can get started:

  • Begin by simply noticing which team member contributes what during your next project at work.
  • If possible, make mental notes. Remember that these notes should not be about ways in which team members are failing, but about ways in which they are excelling.
  • Depending on your leadership style, let people know how well they are doing either in private one-on-one meetings or in a group setting. Be honest and generous in your communication about a person’s performance.

6. Leaders see delegation as their best friend; bosses see it as an enemy.

If delegation is a leader’s best friend, then micromanagement is the enemy.

Delegation equates to trust and micromanagement equates to distrust. Nothing is more frustrating for an employee than feeling that his or her every movement is being critically observed.

Encourage trust in your office by delegating important tasks and acknowledging that your people are capable, smart individuals who can succeed!

Delegation is a great way to cash in on the positive benefits of a psychological phenomenon called a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, a person’s expectations of another person can cause the expectations to be fulfilled.[2]

In other words, if you truly believe that your team member can handle a project or task, he or she is more likely to deliver.

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Learn how to delegate in my other article:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

7. Leaders work hard; bosses let others do the work.

Delegation is not an excuse to get out of hard work. Instead of telling people to go accomplish the hardest work alone, make it clear that you are willing to pitch in and help with the hardest work of all when the need arises.

Here’s the deal:

Showing others that you work hard sets the tone for your whole team and will spur them on to greatness.

The next time you catch yourself telling someone to “go”, a.k.a accomplish a difficult task alone, change your phrasing to “let’s go”, showing that you are totally willing to help and support.

8. Leaders think long-term; bosses think short-term.

A leader who only utilizes short-term thinking is someone who cannot be prepared or organized for the future. Your colleagues or staff members need to know that they can trust you to have a handle on things not just this week, but next month or even next year.

Display your long-term thinking skills in group talks and meetings by sharing long-term hopes or concerns. Create plans for possible scenarios and be prepared for emergencies.

For example, if you know that you are losing someone on your team in a few months, be prepared to share a clear plan of how you and the remaining team members can best handle the change and workload until someone new is hired.

9. Leaders are like your colleagues; bosses are just bosses.

Another word for colleague is collaborator. Make sure your team knows that you are “one of them” and that you want to collaborate or work side by side.

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Not getting involved in the going ons of the office is a mistake because you will miss out on development and connection opportunities.

As our regular readers know, I love to remind people of the importance of building routines into each day. Create a routine that encourages you to leave your isolated office and collaborate with others. Spark healthy habits that benefit both you and your co-workers.

10. Leaders put people first; bosses put results first.

Bosses without crucial leadership training may focus on process and results instead of people. They may stick to a pre-set systems playbook even when employees voice new ideas or concerns.

Ignoring people’s opinions for the sake of company tradition like this is never truly beneficial to an organization.

Here’s what I mean by process over people:

Some organizations focus on proper structures or systems as their greatest assets instead of people. I believe that people lend real value to an organization, and that focusing on the development of people is a key ingredient for success in leadership.

Learning to be a leader is an ongoing adventure.

This list of differences makes it clear that, unlike an ordinary boss, a leader is able to be compassionate, inclusive, generous, and hard-working for the good of the team.

Instead of being a stereotypical scary or micromanaging-obsessed boss, a quality leader is able to establish an atmosphere of respect and collaboration.

Whether you are new to your work environment or a seasoned administrator, these leadership traits will help you get a jump start so that you can excel as a leader and positively impact the people around you.

For more inspiration and guidance, you can even start keeping tabs on some of the world’s top leadership experts. With an adventurous and positive attitude, anyone can learn good leadership.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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