The topic of achieving work-life balance is one that regularly comes up from time to time. A piece of research is published that highlights all of the challenges and generally presents a picture of gloom and doom.
So the question in my mind is whether work-life balance is really a myth or an achievable goal. Too often people have a negative perception of people who aspire to have any sort of balance. They draw conclusions based on their own views that someone who has any interest in work-life balance is either:
- Seeking an easy life
- Not cut out for the more senior jobs
- Not the type of person that we want around here.
Yet in truth, over the years I have had the opportunity to work with people at both ends of the spectrum.
Those that had mastered the work-life balance often displayed some very specific traits:
- When they were at work they focussed on what they had to achieve.
- They made sure that they took time out regularly for vacations to refresh and revitalise.
- They tended not to work in cluttered spaces and were generally well organised.
- They minimised the interruptions, rather than stopping every time someone came along to speak to them.
- They were willing to empower and trust people to deliver what they had asked them to do.
- They had very clear boundaries, especially around things like start and finish times.
By contrast, those that struggled often tended to:
- Take too much on themselves.
- Spend too much time sorting out other people’s problems.
- Set completely unrealistic expectations of what they could sensibly achieve in a day or week.
- Ignore the fact that not everything was going to go perfectly to plan and fail to build in any contingency.
So is work-life balance a myth or an achievable goal? My take is that if you are willing to set some boundaries that work for you, get organised and do what you do best, you can not only achieve work-life balance but be a much more successful leader.