If you are at home, you have a nagging worry about all the pending tasks on your plate at work. And when at work, your mind is pre-occupied with whether your little tot has finished her lunch, is off to her class, is on schedule, or is throwing a royal tantrum! Sounds familiar? You're not alone. Most of us have been/are there.
Work-life balance can seem like an elusive mantra much like a size zero figure after childbirth, but with a little commitment, grit and determination-you can achieve it-believe us you can! (The size zero figure may be another matter altogether however). And here's how:
Create a family calendar
Steve Jobs, Larry Page and many others have given you a gift-use it. Use technology available to you not only at work but also to plan your family life. Sounds a bit stringent, but it really helps. Sync your calendar with your spouse so that both of you are well co-ordinated on who is responsible for what. Who will drive kids back and forth from school, who will take them for extra classes, who will take over in times of travel, and how-and also when you have a family fun outing scheduled. This will give you lesser reason to override or trade in one for the other. You just work around the schedule you have created in either areas of your life!
Prioritise, Prioritise, Prioritise
We say this thrice only, because it is one of the keys to creating a sane work-life balance. You need to know what is important when. Sometimes, a child's concert will have to take precedence over the client meets, and vice versa, you might have to pass on some coffee meets with peer parents for that big business development pitch. Just know what you want to trade in when, and have clear boundaries in your mind about what is non-negotiable at work or at home. We are not saying there will never be impossible situations, but at least this way you will minimise the instances where are you absent from important events, either in your personal or professional life.
Create some me-time
In between juggling your career, your child's schedule and quality time with the spouse, don't forget that you will need time to recharge yourself. Many times, we tend to make this is a last priority, sometimes that's okay, but not always. Even in an aircraft, it is suggested that you put on your own oxygen mask first before attending to your loved ones and there's good reason for it. Unless you take care of yourself, you will not be able to do justice to work or family, and that would defeat the very purpose of creating a work-life balance in the first place.
Sometimes, just say NO!
Sometimes work will make demands on you that will invariably pull you away from family time, and on other occasions school activities might be more demanding than you had initially anticipated. And every once in a while your child will decide to sit on your lap and refuse to budge saying "Mama/Dada no go to office today!" But remember in all of these situations you hold one very special power, and that is to say "NO". Choose when you want to push back. Not only does this establish boundaries for the future, but also gives you the power to create a schedule that you are comfortable with.
Gain a clearer perspective
There is no point sweating the small stuff, when there is little you can do about it. Just as toddlers are going to have separation anxiety whether you are leaving to go for work, or even going to the washroom, bosses are going to demand more of your time, whether you can devote it or not. Know that you cannot have it all, not all the time anyway, so let go of what seems out of reach for that moment, and try to make the most of what is at hand. If that means not handling the biggest clients in the firm, so be it, or if it means having to work late a few days during the year end, bargain for that as well. No one said it's going to be a fair divide.
These are some of the things I do in order to strike a better balance at both work and life. If you have other ideas, do share them in the comments section below for all of us harried parents who are struggling to strike a balance. I'd love to know, I'm sure the others too, as well.