Let’s talk about work-life balance. Who doesn’t struggle with achieving balance in this area either as an employee, professional student, or otherwise? I have been thinking a lot about this lately and have come up with some reasons why I think work-life balance is so difficult to obtain.
1. We identify ourselves by our occupation. Think about the last time you introduced yourself or met a new contact. How did you identify yourself? Typically we start with our occupation and end, maybe, with a little of our personal information. Even when we are asking for introductions, we often ask “so what do you do?”
2. There is typically no ‘boss’ at home to approve requests for ‘time on.’ Most jobs have some type of official tracking system to identify how much time off we use throughout the year. Who tracks our “time on” during personal hours? Furthermore, there is typically no permission required to answer a few emails or take a phone call.
3. It is easier to cheat ourselves than others. It is so easy to work through lunch, stay a little late, come in early, or answer a few messages from home. In many cases, you can even do this without cheating anyone other than yourself. So if you don’t mind it, why should anyone else care? However, in the end, you are cheating yourself from the downtime needed to recover from the stress of work. Our bodies need relaxation and downtime to maintain good health, attitudes and energy levels. As a result, you may be cheating your family of the healthy, happy spouse, mom, or dad they need.
4. Being a good parent or spouse does not usually get us a promotion. Aside from our performance ratings at work, we often have other opportunities for bonuses, stock options, promotions, salary increases, new challenges or even a certificate and a handshake to recognize a significant contribution. What compares to this in the home environment? While it is true that our wonderful families are all the reward we need, human nature craves recognition.
So I go back to my original question – how many hours do you give away? You cannot get them back. Think about the little things you can change to make work-life balance easier to achieve. Here is what I plan to do: I commit to introduce myself personally before professionally; get my job rating for being a mom; ask permission for ‘time on’; respect my personal needs for downtime; and look for opportunities to reward my husband’s outstanding contributions. What about you?