I don’t need to tell you how challenging it is to balance work and life. In this economy, it’s hard to say no to working more hours. You want to spend more time with your family but need to make enough money to pay the bills.
What works for many people may not work for you. Luckily you have an extremely powerful ally – your partner. No, not the person who works with you or co-owns your business. I’m talking about your spouse/significant other/family member. Who do you share your life with?
Your partner can play a huge part in achieving work-life balance. Here are some ways to help each other make the most of your time:
First you need to decide what a balanced life looks like. I can’t tell you that. It’s your call.
Basically, if it feels good it’s balance. Some people have no problem working 50 hours per week. It’s what they love to do. And that may be fine with your partner.
Some people hate working 10 hours in a job or profession. They have more than balance problems. They need to find a career that feeds their soul before they can worry about dedicating time to their family.
Involve your partner
A friend sums it up beautifully. “If she ain’t happy, you ain’t happy.” You need to make your partner happy. That person may not be a legal part of your business or profession, but you need to consider him or her part of the team. Don’t expect to make them work or invest money in your work. But they need to buy into what you’re doing.
And if they understand what you’re doing, they will be willing to cut you some slack when you can’t devote more time to them.
My fiancee is supportive of my time working because she was part of the decision making when I became a freelancer. And I continue to keep her informed of how things are going. Her counsel is valuable, and she understands the decisions I need to make. I also use my flexible schedule to help around the house when needed.
Decide what is truly needed
That question cuts to the core of balancing business and family requirements. It may be possible to pay someone else to do some of the more time consuming tasks like bookkeeping. At home, maybe your partner will welcome the idea of hiring someone to clean or do yard work. If the money isn’t there, then maybe you need to raise rates.
Also be skeptical of what may be considered important. Will your business or company fail if you don’t pick up the phone or answer e-mail at all hours? Many of those “important” tasks could be given less priority in favor of spending time with family.
Put your heads together
If you’re still having trouble fitting it all in, ask your partner. There are a few reasons this can lead to a great solution:
- Your partner may be willing to let you sacrifice some family time to do what you need to do. Again, this is can be a direct result of open communication.
- There’s a reason why you’re in this relationship. Your partner might have an idea or two that helps figure it out. I doubt you’re with a clone of yourself. So your partner’s perspective and unique talents may lead to a solution that you can’t see.
Decide when to turn it off
The dinner table in my house is a phone-free zone. No texts, e-mails, calls, updates, newspapers, video, TV or radio. It’s just us. There are other moments when I turn off all my devices. It’s a clear signal that I’m clearly available and dedicated to the family.
But there are other times when we’re together that I pull out the laptop to finish a column or write e-mails. It allows me to enjoy her company but get some work done. Usually she’s multitasking at the same time. But I also know when it’s time to turn the computer off so she has my full attention.
This is up to you and your family. Having time completely offline can really help you. Blending the two parts of your life can help free up offline time. It’s your call. Just make it together.
Work together – literally
Sometimes it’s advantageous for the two of you to work in the same business. Note that your mileage may vary. This could be the best or worst idea ever for your family.
Schedule a family business meeting
Here’s something that will help keep things running smoothly at home. Schedule a business meeting with your family every week. We try to do it over Monday dinner since that’s a constant time we’re together. And it’s a natural time to talk about the week ahead. We discuss what’s on all our schedules – which is important when you have a non-driving child in the house – and make sure there are no conflicts.
Why it matters
If you’re not achieving balance, you may not be able to take proper care of yourself – physically or mentally. This can lead to health issues that will prevent you from working and/or being with your family. Any unhappiness can make it hard for your family to be with you even when you make the time. So taking care of yourself is important to taking care of your work and family.
How do you maintain work-life balance?