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Last Updated on August 18, 2020

The Secrets to Balancing Work and Family Life

The Secrets to Balancing Work and Family Life

Balancing work and family life is one of the most common sources of stress for working adults. In this productivity-driven society that we are living in, more and more people are finding it hard to adequately fulfill their roles both at home and at the workplace.

More often than not, people are unable to find a point of balance between their careers and their families and one is given more priority than the other. This behavior has been associated with a number of dysfunctional outcomes—strained familial relationships, inefficiency at work, and poor physical and mental health.

Hence, it is very important that we are able to work on balancing work and family life[1]. This may seem like a daunting task, but it is possible if you take the time and care to make it a priority. Here are some steps to help you get started.

1. Make Balance a Priority

Achieving work life balance, whether you work full time or part time, is a long and often difficult process. If you do not make the conscious decision to achieve balance, it is likely that you will fail along the way. I have learned through my experience that it is very important to make an effort to provide yourself the opportunity for balance.

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For instance, you need to find a job that is challenging but not overwhelming; also, carefully think about how big of a family you can responsibly raise at the moment. By making wise decisions on the most important matters in your life, attaining balance won’t be a difficult thing.

If you are already settled into a career and have a growing family, you can still make small changes that will help you achieve balance. This could include requesting more flexible work hours, reorganizing the responsibilities you share at home, or bringing in trusted friends and family to help pick up the slack. 

2. Talk to Your Family

I used to think that I was the only one who could solve my work versus family life conundrum. However, over time I realized that there is no way for me to get things right if I only rely on my perspective. Since then, I’ve made it a point to have discussions with my family[2] regarding their perceptions, opinions, and even objections to my work and how much I’m focusing on it.

These discussions opened my eyes to a lot of things and made me more aware of the issues that I needed to improve. I also made sure that the entire family understood my obligations and responsibilities at work. Thus, there was also more understanding on their part.

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Once you spend time conversing and allow your family to have a say in how you’re tackling the balance between work and family in your life, you’ll find they have a lot of helpful feedback. Also, when they feel heard, they will react better when you have to stay late at work one evening or have to leave the dinner table early to finish a big project. Make sure the communication flows constantly.

3. Allow Others to Help You

There are times when balance is more difficult to achieve. Maybe you’re vying for a promotion at work, or you have a huge project for a client due before the weekend. Once you’ve communicated those problems to your family, it may be time to bring in some help.

Most people have friends or family that are willing to help out. Make sure these are people you trust to handle tasks like brining your children to sports practices or picking them up from school. In most instances, they’ll be happy to pick up the slack for a week or two.

If you’re not sure how to start asking for help, check out this article.

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4. Establish Boundaries Between Work and Family

It is important that we create boundaries between work and family. This means determining which actions are acceptable and unacceptable. Boundaries hold the line to protect your work from the distraction of family, as well as to protect your family from the obligations at work. With clear boundaries, it is easier for you to tell when your action is not in favor of one aspect of your life.

For example, you and your family may set a rule that no one is allowed to use a cell phone at the table. This will help your older children, but it will also help you avoid taking work calls during dinner[3]. You may also decide not to check emails while on vacation.

This can be difficult, but it may be a necessary step to help your family feel like a priority and draw a firm line between work and home. The TED talk below may help you find inspiration to achieve the work-life balance you’re seeking.

5. Accept That Imbalance Is Sometimes Unavoidable

During my struggle to attain balance between work and family, I realized that there will always be times that I will have to let work or family take priority. It would be impossible to perfectly balance everything in your life at all times.

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For example, when a family member is sick, you may need to skip a work event. Or when an important deadline must be met, you might need to miss dinner at home and stay working late at the office. 

The most important thing is that you don’t allow imbalance to become the norm. The scale may tip for a few days or weeks, so the key is to bring it as close to the center as possible once you have the space to do so.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to balance work and family life isn’t easy. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every person and family must find specific solutions to their issues depending on their own preferences and needs.

Essentially, a balance between work and family occurs when a person is able to sufficiently meet family commitments and adequately perform responsibilities at work. There is nothing wrong with working hard to get ahead, but don’t forget the worth of the things and people that really matter most.

More Tips on Work-Life Balance

Featured photo credit: Andre Jackson via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Academy of Management Review: Achieving Work-Family Balance: An Action Regulation Model
[2] Conversation Skills Core: 5 Tips for Better (& Easier) Family Conversation
[3] International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction: Out of Work, Out of Mind? Smartphone Use and Work-Life Boundaries

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Kara Heissman

Kara is passionate about sharing her self-improvement insights to help more people.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

Reference

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