June 07, 2011
This is last in a series of leadership tips for work/family balance (See them all)
Getting sick of hearing the term work/life balance? But you know why it is such a hot topic, don’t you? If so, then you are among those getting dragged in to the melee of 21st century craze – a hyper work schedule paired with the semblance of a personal life.
Some of your methods work for managing your calendar, and others seem to unravel regularly. You are lured by shiny new time management techniques, but are sick of trying all of them out without much luck.
Knowing how to manage your schedule is certainly key, but in many cases you set yourself up for insanity. I often see managers sign-up for responsibilities or dedicate themselves to tasks that in reality could have slid a bit. We are fearful of not looking dedicated, but if you are unfocused and nutty, you do no one any good!
A recent study looked at the source of conflict created by a lack of work/family balance and identified several items that can help improve it. Here is the last of the series:
– Keep your expectations realistic
Heard the term “requirements creep?” (not referring to a scary guy that lives in the rundown house at the end of your street).
Creeping is the slow yet sometimes imperceptible change that occurs around us in various areas, such as what a customer’s requirements may grow to be.
Work/family balance is creeping. Expectations for a higher level of leisure time has been increasing through the last 3 generations. In the meantime, our world has been increasingly demanding more work from us and an increased challenge for how to make it in a depressed economy.
eek – sounds like a recipe for stress and work/family imbalance.
If you are wooed by the idea of a 4-hour workweek (a rarity yet so tempting), you may be easily lured into thinking that your career can scale back some and you can still be content. Well, yes, that may be possible. But there is a difference between having it as a long-term target and expecting it later this week.
The mental posturing of expecting a perfectly balanced work/family life will continue to lead to disappointment. For example, if you encounter a point where a personal need butts up against a work need, and your response to it is tension and resistance, the result will be stress. If however you see it as an expected development and a part of “the way my life is,” your reaction becomes more accepting and easy-going. Have a healthy amount of optimism and push towards balance, but know where the hard limits are.
*** Adapted from the article Is Stress Getting to You by Rebecca A. Clay, Monitor on Psychology, January 2011.