Achieving work/life balance is worth it. Without it, it makes us unhappy at home and unhappy at work. On the job, it leads to burnout, less productivity, higher turnover rates and lower morale. At home, it makes us absentee from families and friends, depletes our joy and impacts aspects of our health. Achieving work/life balance is worth it.
In a survey by Family Living Today, the U.S. ranks 30th out of 38 countries in the work/life balance department, which means we are in the lowest 20%. It also shows that 33% of employed adults in the U.S. work on an average Saturday, Sunday or holiday. We have room for improvement.
And, here’s where it starts.
Forget all the big initiatives you’re going to start toward making work/life balance happen. Those things like joining the gym, turning off your cell phone completely all weekend, swearing off Facebook and social media. It really starts by making slight adjustments in your daily routine at work that will help get you out of the office, home on time and focused on your joy when you get there.
What I’m referring to is making small decisions and taking minor, doable steps with your work responsibilities. These are the things that can put you into action, get your momentum going and help you start achieving a sense of balance. Instead of trying to make large leaps of change in a single bound at work, consider ways to make slight adjustments that will lead you to results in the right direction. And, you have the opportunity throughout your day to make them.
Here are 3 work areas that challenge our work/life balance and how to make some small modifications that can have a big effect:
Phones: Do you need to answer every incoming call?
Some you do, but many you probably don’t. Make the slight adjustment of letting some calls go into voicemail. It allows you to keep your focus on the work at hand, complete it and manage your time effectively. Retrieve the voicemail when you are finished.
Adjust your greeting for callers who go into voicemail. Let them know what hours you can be reached and that you will get back to them. This approach lets others know you are not available 24/7.
If you have to, because it’s too tempting, turn your phone off at home, even if it’s for a limited time and always keep it off the dinner table!
Email: Do you need to be looking at emails or sending them around the clock?
Some slight email adjustments start with limiting the time you spend viewing, answering or sending emails. This is especially important when it comes to after-hours, weekends and holidays. Establish guidelines and expectations inside your company regarding managing emails.
Easily adjust the “Out of Office” message to convey that you are out of the office and enjoying time with family. For anything urgent, suggest the sender resend their email and use the word “urgent” in the subject line. For all others, you will respond when you return to the office or refer the sender to the person covering for you.
Staying away from emails might not be so voluntary in the future. New York City is currently contemplating a first - a bill that bans requiring employees to respond to emails after-hours. It has a way to go yet, and there are kinks to be ironed out. But, the fact that this is being proposed and making headlines is a step in the right direction. France already established a Right to Disconnect Law for workers. Some companies are now using apps that remove employee access to email after-hours as well.
Meetings: Is a meeting really necessary?
Meetings are frequently not the best use of time. They tend to go long and keep us from other work that needs to be done. Some slight adjustments around meetings include minimizing the amount of meetings being held. Build that into the company culture. Rethink the very next call for a meeting and see how it might be reworked via a conference call or even email. Not only should the number of meetings be decreased, why not tweak the length of time for a meeting. Let attendees know the meeting starts and stops promptly on time and will only last a predetermined amount of minutes.
Consider other slight adjustments like minimizing the number of attendees, keeping the agenda to one topic, or not holding meetings on Mondays or Fridays. Meetings then naturally take on a new meaning when they are only held on special occasions and not held frivolously as a routine.
Getting closer to a work/life balance can be made simple. Realize through slight work habit adjustments, you can make meaningful, everyday changes so when you are at work, you are at work. And when you are at home, you are at home.
Let us help you create excellence in new hire onboarding and employee training. Explore the possibilities of Onboardia. Call us at 800-771-8610, visit us at http://www.onboardia.com or Schedule a Demo today.
Cathy A. Reilly is the author of “The Temp Factor: The Complete Guide to Temporary Employment” and Founder/CEO of Onboardia, Inc., HR software.