Do You Have Work Life Balance?
Work life balance means different things to different people, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’.
For example, one of my clients is a lady who is a PA to the regional manager of a well known national organisation. Let’s call her Jill. When I first met Jill she was exhausted and run down and was thinking about quitting her job. On the one hand she loved what she did. She was efficient, productive and a popular member of the team – however the work-load was dragging her down.
The Root of the Problem
We spent some time looking at her values and I soon got a clue as to the root of the problem. When she started to talk about walking on Dartmoor her whole demeanour transformed. From hunched shoulders and a furrowed brow, her eyes sparkled and she talked animatedly about getting out into nature. It was something she hadn’t done for ages. She then began to reminisce about her childhood and her love of horse riding. As she spoke it was as though she was tapping in to the reservoir that nourished her soul.
In many ways I see work life balance like a reservoir. There are some obvious areas of our lives that drain the water and there are some which are not so obvious. Work is an obvious drain – however cooking, cleaning, being a taxi for the kids, gardening and meeting up with relatives may not be so obvious. We often assume that because we’re doing the latter at home then somehow it counter-balances work. However anything that is a chore or a duty is likely to sap our energy and tip those work life balance scales.
So what happens when there’s a work life balance drought and you don’t refill the reservoir? I was running a work shop on work life balance at a conference for Head Teachers and I asked them what they were like when their life was out of balance? There were a variety of answers including, “I feel irritable and tired.” “I take it out at home,” and “I can’t sleep and I’m exhausted.” Do any of these sound familiar? Well if so then it’s time for you to consider what is meaningful for you.
Refilling the Reservoir
In the case of my client, Jill, she decided to get involved with horses again; she didn’t hand in her notice. Instead she found a charity for horses and for 2 mornings a week got up at 04.30 to help out before she went to work. She was filling up her reservoir and it transformed her not just at home but also at work.
I’m not advocating that we all turn out of bed at 04.30 in the morning to muck out horses – however I would recommend that you find something that replenishes your reservoir. For many of the Head Teachers at the conference they committed to do small but important things. One said she was going to phone up a friend she hadn’t talked to for ages, another decided to book his holiday and for another she decided to go swimming every week.
Improve Your Work Life Balance
So my challenge to you is to think of one small thing that you could do to improve your work life balance. If you pick something you feel you ‘should’ do or something that’s a ‘duty’ then think again. It can be as small or as large as you like – but whatever you do – enjoy yourself!