Research shows that the majority of working families would say that family and relationships remain their greatest priority, and yet the demands of busy working lives don’t let up either. Finding the right balance between work and family life has never been more important.
Established by Working Families, National Work Life Week is dedicated to helping people find a better balance between work and life. The week aims to promote the importance of wellbeing and work-life balance, and the business benefits for organisations in getting it right.
At Bright Horizons, we believe a successful work life balance brings significant benefits to both an organisation and its people. Becky Hall, an Executive Coach within our organisation offers us her recipe for achieving a better work life balance.
The key to finding balance
1. Focus on the end in mind
We live in a world that is fighting for our attention 24/7 - full of complex demands and constant distractions. As such, society has moved to operating a knowledge economy, not a time economy - we are judged by our deliverables, and less by the amount of time we spend working.
Therefore, at the start of each day, it can really help to write down the three things that you want to have achieved by the end of the day. Do the same at the start of each week, just three things, the big things that you want to have achieved that week. The distractions have to work around these - you will find that, once you are very clear about what you want to attend to, your focus follows and distractions fall into line.
2. Manage your energy
When is your energy peak in each day? We all have different rhythms and it is helpful to know when you are at your most alert. When you track this over a week or so, you will find that a similar pattern each day. There will be regular peaks and troughs for your energy levels. Once you are able to predict when you will be at your most and least focused, you can plan your tasks to fit the energy you are able to give.
Do not waste your peak energy (some call it 'biological prime time') on clearing your email inbox! Save it for the stuff that matters - your three 'end in mind' deliverables - whether that is quality time with your family, or writing a report. When you manage your energy, not your time, you will be amazed by how much more you can achieve.
3. Set your boundaries – and stick to them!
The sooner we all realise that we are able to set our own boundaries around time, the better. In fact, we have to, because the demands will not stop. No one tells you not to check your emails at midnight. Therefore, it is a choice. OUR choice. Giving yourself autonomy over your time is the best way to release yourself from continuous partial attention. And that other curse of our age, especially for working parents, is continuous underlying guilt!
Making clear, conscious decisions about what you want to give your focus to, and sticking to boundaries that you set yourself, for your work and your family, can end that feeling of being constantly stressed (pulled at from all angles) and only half succeeding at anything. You will feel in control of what you want to attend to.