Work-life Balance

by Barbara Buffton

How balanced are you right now?

Research

Two-thirds of Brits (67 per cent) made a promise to themselves to strike a better balance between work and home life in 2005.

Does your life feel out of balance? If so, are you also one of the many people who have promised to strike a better balance between work and home life? Most people know when they are out of balance. The typical signs are

  • Constant tiredness
  • Feeling out of control
  • Not doing anything very well
  • Being reactive
  • Not being able to make decisions

And, last but not least,

  • Being difficult to live with or to work with!

If you’re someone who has difficulty reading the signs, the following questions may help. If you answer yes to any one of them, it may be time to get better at striking a good balance between your working life and your personal life:

  • Are you spending long hours at the office – and unhappy about it?
  • Do you feel under stress?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do?
  • Do some or all of your staff seem out of balance?
  • Do you feel you have no control over what happens?
  • Are people demanding too much of you – at work and/or at home?
  • Do you often feel, no matter what you’re doing at the time, that you should be doing something else?
  • Do you feel guilty taking time out for yourself?

How to tell the source of imbalance

Below is one of various wheel-of-life models that are designed to show the inter-relationship of our various life roles.

Score your satisfaction with each area from 0 – 10, and see if you get an even wheel of life, or if you are getting a bumpy ride. Also see Wheel of life in the Coaching topic.

Deciding how much focus you are putting into each of your areas can give you some clues as to which areas need more attention. It’s a good starting point from which to diagnose and redress any imbalance.

Take action!

Check out the benefits of doing something about your own work-life balance or that of your staff in The business case and The personal case for work-life balance.

Too much, too little or just right?

If you think you’re spending too much or too little time on certain things, how do you know? What tells you?

How do you know when something or someone is taking up too much of your time? What tells you that your life is not in balance, that you’re not spending enough time on certain things, or not enough time alone or with certain people who matter to you?

How would you know if you were spending just the right amount of time – enough time – at work or at home?

Before you answer the following questionnaire, imagine what it would be like to spend different amounts of time on each specific activity.

What would tell you if the time was too long, too short or just right? Notice how you feel each time. When do you get a good feeling? When do you get a bad one? Would other people agree with you? Do you need to challenge any beliefs behind your feelings?

It’s a bit like the fairy story of Goldilocks and the three bears, in which Goldilocks has to decide what is ‘just right’ for her. You have to decide where you’re spending too much and too little time and what would be just right for you.

In order to identify what kind of work-life balance or imbalance you have currently, it’s important not just to find out where your time is being spent but also how you feel about it.

Exercise

Now go through the Questionnaire...