How To Improve Work-Life Balance
The other day someone was concerned about our work-life balance. They wondered how it is we can work at a full-time job, manage family life, and start a home-based business.
The best answer that I was able to provide is that it is important to know the difference between work and life.
Brenda wrote a blog a while back with her feelings on work-life balance here.
The way I see it is that it is important to keep in mind that work is something we do when we are not dealing with life.
The term work-life balance is a popular topic online and one where many people have many different views.
I'm not here to try and convince you into believing or follow in my interpretation but it may help you to understand how it is that we can manage to create a small business while we are working full-time.
If you come away with something we do that inspires you to make a positive change in your life then this blog has accomplished its goal.
Yes, sometimes my blogs have a set goal.
What is My Definition of Work-Life Balance
Let's start by reviewing the most common definition:
Work-Life balance is the state of equilibrium with the demands split between professional life, family life, and personal life.
Sounds nice in theory but can that be managed in the real world?
How does one measure levels in professional, family, and personal life?
Seeing that time is a measurable unit then I believe that using time would be the most logical way to see if our work-life is in balance.
If we use time as a measurable unit then we first need to understand what we define as work "time" and what consider to be life "time".
There are only so many hours in a day right.
I mean if people like the former President of the USA ( we can't use the current as a good example) was able to manage time in his day, which has the same amount of hours as my day (last I checked) to be with family and friends then certainly someone with my lifestyle would have loads of time to spare.
Okay, let's start by defining what is work and what is life "time".
What is Work Time vs Life Time?
If we look at work using my current situation as an example I believe it to be similar to the majority of the working class as I work 8 hours/day.
I know some people's workdays are much more and some are less but again, remember I am writing this blog according to my situation in hopes that you can use some of the information to help you.
Oh wait, I don't really work 8 hours/day as I get 1 hour for lunch and two 15 minute breaks. So really I only work 6.5 hours/day.
Now I am fortunate, as most days I don't need to commute so that probably saves me a couple of hours per day compared to the average worker.
Okay, I know how many hours I'm at work so how many does that leave for life?
Well we all need to sleep, I tend to sleep an average of 8 hours (no breaks 😉 )
Now if we add 6.5 hours work plus 8 hours of sleep then that comes up to 14.5 hours /day
Work + Sleep = 14.5/hrs.
That means that we have 24 hrs/day - 14.5 hrs/work+sleep = 9.5 hours for life per day!
That is more hours than I put into my work/job per day and I haven't included my weekends off yet!
I know I shouldn't get too excited yet but I'm already feeling much more encouraged knowing that I do get more time for Life vs Work, or do I.
My situation is different as I get to work from home most of the time which makes a load of difference. If I had to commute to work for 1 hour each way then I would be left with only 7.5 hours/day.
Now 9.5 hours/day sounds awesome but can I actually put 9.5 hrs/day towards our business?
I think this calls for a time audit exercise.
The time per day for work, sleep, and for life we reviewed above gives us a quick snapshot of our daily time but what does the big picture really look like?
We now have to breakdown what I do for those 9.5 hrs when I'm not at work or sleeping. To get a true picture I listed my 24hrs.
Here is my average daily breakdown.
Make Smoothies for Family
Eat Breakfast, Coffee, and Watch News
Supper (make and eat with family)
1 to 1.5 hour
2 to 2.5 hours
Blogging, Website and Video Editing...
Am I in a Work-Life balance situation?
It looks like I am working more than I am living.
Job 6.5 hrs/day + Woodworking 3.5 hrs/day + Blogging/Website/Editing 2 hrs/day = 12 hrs/day
That leaves 3.5 hrs/day for personal and family
Based on the time audit I am currently putting in 3 to 3.5/hrs a day in the workshop doing the woodworking side of the business.
This is where you want to list a goal.
List Your Goals
Ask yourself, "If you had extra time, what would you want to accomplish?"
You'll need to figure out how much extra time you would need to reach that goal.
Of course, you can't add hours to a day so you can only borrow time from other blocks.
What could you do without?
Is 3.5hrs/day enough "Life" time?
At the moment I do feel my work-life is balanced.
Although 3.5 hours may appear to be a small amount compared to the rest it is quite good considering my kids are no longer kids and being able to sit and talk to them for 30 minutes /day is a miracle.
They have their own work/study/life balance to contend with.
Also, when I am in the workshop or blogging it doesn't feel like work as many times Brenda is there with me.
Right now my goal is to get 1 extra hour /day building our business.
How to Reach Your Goal
I read or heard someone say that the best way to manage your time effectively is to pretend that your time is money, that the time you have listed in the audit has a $ value.
Try to imagine a value for the total "Life" time hours in your day has a given $ value. That $ value will be different for everyone but give it a value that would be a considerable amount if it were coming out of your budget.
Pretend that you're the boss and the employee is the one using up those "Life" hours.
You want to get the best value for the $ so you better be sure to be focused and productive.
Which brings me back to my time audit. I wrote that on average I spend 2 hours blogging/website updates/video editing but in reality, it may be half that amount.
That task requires me to be on the computer and online.
Guess what happens when you go online, you get easily distracted.
That does happen to me often enough to prompt me to review my time thus the creation of this blog.
There is no better way to manage your time researching how to manage your time than to use that research to create content.
Maybe all those hours on Youtube will pay-off after all.
Things To Remember
When it comes down to evaluating the Work-Life Balance you need to remember that what you considered to be in balance may not be the same for someone else.
We all have different needs and perceptions of what is required to feel balanced and content.
Once you've completed your audit and set some goals, it would be a good idea to review them with your family and/or friends. They too may benefit from your planned changes.
Always remember to spend your time wisely as this will help maintain your focus. Use a stopwatch if needed, put a time limit to each task as this tends to help people be more productive with their time. Having deadlines do work!
Once you've set your goal(s) and adjusted your time blocks be sure to come back to review how the changes are affecting your time balance.
New adjustments may be required as this exercise outcomes must always remain fluid to accommodate unforeseen changes.
My last piece of advice and this something I tell myself is to do what is right for you.
Never worry what others think, they have their own worries and most don't have the time to care, so just do you.