Achieving a work-life balance seems relatively simple: work less, live more. Unfortunately, this balance is more complicated than simply working less, especially for women. Women tend to hold multiple roles in our society: we are entrepreneurs; we are mothers; we are social beings. In order to balance all of these things, we must constantly work at setting goals and also setting boundaries.
Let’s have a look at some of the tips for women to achieve the best work-life balance possible.
Take Stock of Your Schedule
Most busy women keep a calendar of sorts, whether it is in the form of a structured daily organizer or a daily list of things to do. To take stock of just how much time is spent on tasks vs. recreation, take a long hard look at your calendar or list at the end of the day. Write down how much time it actually took you to complete each task. Now calculate how much time you spent sitting with a cup of tea, chatting with friends on the phone or social media, or going to the gym to workout. In other words, how does your “me” time compare with the time you spend caring for others’ needs? If work exceeds life by a significant amount that indicates an imbalance. If this is you, don’t feel bad. Have a word with your employer or your spouse about your findings, and what it is costing you. Communicating what we need isn’t always easy, but saying nothing is much, much harder.
How to Bring It Up
So you’ve discovered that your work-life balance is out of whack, and it is causing you undue stress, possibly fatigue or other health issues and certainly isn’t fair. If you work outside the home, set up a meeting with your boss or manager and talk about the amount of time you spend after working hours and on weekends doing your job. Anything over 40 hours is considered overtime; anything over about 45 hours is encroaching upon the other areas of your life that need attention.
Raising children and running a household is far more complex than showing up at work every day, and being a Mom, you don’t get to leave at 5pm at the end of every day. Your job as a Mom is an around-the-clock commitment so in order to achieve a work-life balance ask for help. Speak to the children’s father about scheduling some time for you. Enlist him to take over dinner a couple of times during the week. And babysitters! Find an awesome babysitter who can come over at least once a week so you and your spouse (or girlfriends!) can go out for a dinner or some shopping without the kids.
The Importance of Balance
Why do we need a healthy work-life balance? Isn’t it asking too much of others around me? Am I being a burden to others by asking for help? We need a healthy balance between the things we have to do and the things we want to do for the sake of our own sanity. Too much time working and not enough time resting leads to burnout, and extreme burnout is the definition of a nervous breakdown. This is why a well-balanced relationship between your work and life is best for everyone involved.
Asking for Help
Asking your boss to help reprioritize some things so that you don’t have to work nights and weekends is not asking for anything – it’s asserting a boundary and setting the tone for your future at that company. You do have a life outside of work, and you do politely request that it be respected. You are not a person who is willing to be taken advantage of. Now when it comes to asking your spouse for help, this is not out of line either. You share children, you share a household. This means you should share in the responsibilities that come with these lifestyle commitments. It may seem uncomfortable asking, but for your own sake, you must. Once your life is back in balance, you will be so glad you did.
Article. (2013). “Women, Work and Work-Life Balance” by the Harvard Kennedy School. http://journalistsresource.org/studies/society/gender-society/women-work-research-roundup. Internet. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
Sethi, Japreet. (2014). “Women Work Life Balance” for The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/women-work-life-balance/. Internet. Retrieved 9 December 2014.