Chasing Work-Life Balance? Read This. Now.
Work-life balance is elusive, but if you’ve ever experienced it, there’s a flow to your week and a sense of being on top of everything. But inevitably, there’s a disruption—your kid gets the flu or an employee quits or a server goes out—and you’re back in the weeds.
Recently, I read a NY Magazine article on work-life balance by author (and friend) Brigid Schulte. Through her research, it’s clear that women (surprise, surprise) face particular challenges in the dual pursuit of success at home and work. Along with two other researchers, she’s written a powerful and free toolkit loaded with strategies for achieving a state of balance that isn’t toppled when life interrupts. Here’s a preview:
Create slack. Put time in your calendar every day or every week to account for unanticipated “shocks” and planning fallacy bias.
Make it costly to send business e-mails after hours. Use technology to schedule e-mails to go out during the work day. Or design a prompt that asks someone to think twice before hitting Send.
Create autoresponders for off-hour e-mail. Signaling that e-mail is sent outside of work hours helps create a new norm that taking time off to rest and re-energize is more valued than burning out.
Make refreshing the inbox a conscious choice. Removing auto refresh disrupts the cycle of constant checking and interruption.
Use commitment devices. Colleagues, teams, and organizations can use precommitment strategies to help meet deadlines, to cut meeting time, or to leave the office or stop working at a certain hour.