According to a Harvard Business School survey, 94% of service professionals put in 50+ hours of work per week. Long hours might be necessary, but study after study shows that when a balance of professional obligation and personal life is not struck, there can be many negative outcomes.
We realize of course, that a 50-50 work-life balance is not a reality, it just doesn’t work that way. In a survey conducted by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) 54% of women said they found it challenging to manage time or delegate work to find a better balance . One recent study noted, Generation X and Millennial women seem to be losing ground compared to Baby Boomers at the same phase of life.
The Economist recently published an in-depth look at some of the research into how men perceive and utilize parental leave and other professional flexibilities. It was found that one of the largest hurdles to men taking a considerable role in their family life is that they’re afraid to take leave or work less.
The Conference Board reports that 53% of Americans are currently unhappy at work while American workers forfeited nearly 50% their paid vacation in 2017. Nearly 10 percent take no vacation days at all. According to a study by Glassdoor, the fear of falling behind is the number one reason people aren’t using their vacation time.
Though this is the case and you may feel stuck; there are some steps that you can take:
You may have a to-do list with 50 tasks on it, so you need to prioritize those tasks into four categories:
- Urgent and important
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Neither urgent nor important.
Plot some personal time
When personal issues arise, it can be tempting to bury yourself in your work. Don’t do it If you don’t make time for your personal life – your “me” time, including your family and your health – you won’t have a business to go back to. Set work hours for yourself and stick to them.
Manage your time
Create a timeline of your activities. Specific computer programs can help with this, or you can customize your own Excel spreadsheet or Word table. Include family commitments – such as holidays, birthday parties, etc. – so you don’t forget that you are unavailable for work on those days.
Tap into technology
Instead of driving to a meeting, use Skype or conferencing technologies. But remember to switch them off.
At the end of each working day, perform a little self-analysis. Ask yourself what worked today, what didn’t, what went wrong and how the issue can be fixed. Remember there are thousands of businesses just like yours learning the same lessons every day. Don’t forget to tap into the valuable resources around you.
Take a break
Remember to take time out throughout your day. Some tasks are easier than others, so if you find yourself with an hour up your sleeve, be realistic about whether you can “afford” to rest or not.
Additional education is also an invaluable tool to propel you forward to a career that you’re passionate about. You can now complete the UMass Boston MBA entirely online.
Take the necessary steps to find your balance!