We hear a lot about bringing balance to our lives, looking for ways to create work-life balance. With the advances in technology, we have completely changed the way we are conducting business and are always connected. So much so that even the thought of trying to compartmentalize our day to day lives can seem overwhelming.
If you take a look at the younger generation, they seem to ebb and flow between work, school, family, community, etc. We need to be looking at work-life integration, and stop trying to fit everything into its tiny little box. If you are a work-life integrator, you can get up, have breakfast with friends, run some errands before heading into work. Then at lunch, head out to work at the gym before some afternoon meetings. Afterward, grabbing the kids from school, having dinner with the family, and then answering emails after putting the kids to sleep. You are not segmented into having to fit things in either before or after your 9-5 shift.
But who works just a 9-5 anymore? In setting up a work-life integration, you must be mindful not to go down the slippery slope of filling up every moment of your day. Easier said than done, especially for small business owners, managers, entrepreneurs, or anyone on a salary.
So then, how are you supposed to accomplish this seemingly magical flowing symmetry of work and life? Here are a few tips to get you going:
- Stop thinking about productivity in terms of hours
Think more about what you have accomplished. This goes for both professional and personal aspects, because why focus on how little time you spent with a friend instead of focusing on how to make that time more significant and meaningful. The whole “quality over quantity” scenario.
- Create a schedule
While this may seem counter-intuitive to create seamless transitions, it helps to prioritize your time. Don’t be afraid to put things like “gym time” or “family dinner” on your calendar. Putting items like that on your calendar helps to ensure you DO them.
- Do not give clients your personal cell phone number
We all want to be helpful, and having our cell phones constantly on us can make it seem logical that you want to be available as needed. But we all know how that can derail and turn into a time suck. A better option would be to implement something like Line 2, where you can have a separate number dedicated to work that you can turn on and off. This keeps you in control of your time.
- Pay attention to when you are most productive
Some people enjoy the quiet morning hours before everyone else is awake, and they can crank out a bunch of work. Maybe you’re not a morning person, so you are more productive in the afternoon or evening. Be mindful of your internal clock and monitor when you are the most productive and use that to your advantage. Technology can help you track through different available apps.
- You can still take time to unplug, and you should
The best self-care can sometimes be having quiet time for yourself. Your mind and body need a break from work to fully recharge. It is ok to remain committed to some boundaries, especially to help maintain personal relationships and your sanity.
- Check your expectations
There are going to be days where work may cut into family time and vice versa. You are going to have to let the perfectionist side go because not everything will be perfect. This also means being realistic with what you can accomplish with your time constraints, rather than setting unrealistic goals.
- Be flexible
It can be challenging to go with the flow, but allowing things to happen is the fundamental piece to creating your integration. Things will come up, they always do. You need to be adaptable to schedule changes, site changes, life changes.
Understand that no one does this perfectly, and that’s ok. How we work is continually evolving, requiring us to continue to adapt. Work-life integration helps us set a framework for prioritizing what we value most.