Here at Red Barn Consulting, we absolutely love our jobs — What could be better than working with fantastic clients, building a team of fearsomely good people, and sharing what makes your business brilliant with the world?
But, even we know you can have too much of a good thing. It’s why there’s no end of articles on work and life balance — Trying to spin the plates of work, home, friends, family, and commitments simultaneously, without losing your mind.
Honestly — we’re not sure that’s the very best approach. That’s why we think about work life balance a little bit differently (big surprise)!
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Balance = Flexibility
To us, it’s all about flexibility — Knowing what you want to do and getting rid of what you don’t. It’s not about jumping the “work” hurdle and then the “life” hurdle, but about making those hurdles smaller. Then you don’t need to waste time worrying that you might stumble.
Why do we think this way? Well, employers are demanding, especially if that employer is you! (Yep, the self-employed are probably the worst at separating work and personal life…) Because of those demands, you probably will check email after 6 PM, work late to get the presentation out the door, and crunch through the weekend to put the proposal together.
For good or bad, it’s what’s expected — But think about this in terms of flexibility and removing the time-wasting stuff, and things get much easier.
If you’re an employer, be flexible in how you let your team work. If they need to work from home occasionally, give them the opportunity. If they’ve worked late and need to leave early to watch their child in a school play, give them the time off with your blessing. Provide your employees with autonomy and let them manage their days — They know what they need to do and when they need to do it, so build trust by letting them decide how.
As an employee, it never hurts to ask. Demonstrate to your boss how you’ve made their lives easier through the work you’ve put in. Ask about flexible working arrangements that will let you spend quality time with your family. If you can demonstrate good work, your employer will probably be open to your suggestions.
Remember, working is a give and take relationship — If both sides respect one another, it becomes less about work and life balance, and more about what works best for employer and employee.
Second to flexibility is getting rid of the stuff that’s just wasting your time. You’ve probably heard of the “Pareto Principle” — That 80% of results comes from 20% of actions. It’s time to find that 20% and cut out as much of the other stuff as you can. Keep a log of what you’re doing on a daily basis for a couple of weeks and ask yourself “Is this making the business better?” If it’s not expanding the business, making things more efficient, bringing in greater revenue, or enhancing how you work, get rid of it.
Be ruthless — Talk to your colleagues and your boss and get them to take on the same mindset. Look at the waste in the business — The processes that could be improved, the way that you and others work. Then, make a conscious choice to change, and encourage others to change with you.
And that’s really it — There’s no big secret to work and life balance, other than approaching it differently. Think of it as flexibility, and not some magical target you have to reach, and you’ll be much happier (trust us, we know!) Cut out the stuff you don’t want to do, be awesome at what’s left, and there will be no stopping you.