As you may know, my full-time gig involves me sitting behind a desk all day. I work in the managed care industry for a start up that is growing like crazy. I like to think I’ve had something to do with that growth. However it has also meant learning some hard lessons about work life balance. Being a young professional with no degree, I feel really lucky to have landed this role, and for a while, I was on a mission to prove that I deserved it. Because of that, it was like I never stopped working and you can assume that didn’t end well.
Today is all about how I quit allowing work to run my life and became more present in my home and really in my life.
1// Realize that you cannot fix everything
A lot of my late nights at the office, or even late night at home working on various projects were caused by a desire to save the world. Our company is growing fast and there are some growing pains associated with that. I wasn’t going to single handedly fix it all, and 90% of the work I was doing overtime and after hours could have waited until I got into work the next day.
2// Get rid of your email notifications
If you can, don’t allow your email on your phone to send you push notifications unless you have to! It changed my life not to see those “urgent” emails that couldn’t wait. Newsflash. They could wait. There was the occasional emergency, but generally if it’s a big enough issue, people will just call you. So cut them out!
3// Get organized and work so that it doesn’t have to come home with you
Getting organized at work is a major challenge for me. My workflow gets interrupted all day long due to the nature of my job, so I had to figure out someway to deal with that. I started making to-do lists and tracking my daily tasks so that I would complete what needed to be done and I didn’t have to stay at work late or take those tasks home. There are still time when things get away from me and I do have to do them at home, but those nights are so fewer and further between since I began focusing task management.
4// Be honest with your leadership about your family situation
I know that this can be a bit of a sticky topic. With the mommy tax and all…I know that a mom is less likely to get hired than a dad or a childless woman…But we’re past hiring. We’re in the role. We’re doing the work. Make sure your boss knows that you have a family at home and they’re a priority to you. If someone calls during dinner you can answer and say “I’m having dinner with my family. Would you mind if I call you back later?” or “Can you send me an email about that and I can work on that after I have dinner with my family?” Make it clear that you have boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed when we can help it.
5// Consider how this time will be remembered
I love Corey and Clara with all of my heart. I’ll really cherish these memories that we’ve made together…but one day I was thinking about what Clara would remember about her childhood, or what Corey and I would reminisce about when she gets older. I thought “I wonder if Clara will remember me working this much?” and “I wonder if Corey will just remember, Clara started crawling while Katie was answering emails on her phone.” That was a wake up call for me. I didn’t want work to be what we remembered about this amazing time in our lives.
It can be a struggle, but it really helps me to do these things and to consider how I want these days to be remembered. How do you maintain work life balance?