Who controls your time? You, or your boss?
Your work/life balance is in your hands. Your work life balance is your choice. The choice is whether you make 'your life' a priority or not. Emergencies do require exceptional hours, and for specific periods, demands of your professional life may well creep into your personal life. But, not as a given.
Work life balance is a catchy phase. It is a concept that many aspire to, rather than live. Leaders become used to taking work home, working in weekends, and long hours at the office. Staff expect, yet dread, after hours 'urgent' calls from their manager with business as usual. We stop thinking an eight-hour day is 'enough' and allow work to carve into our own time. If you recognise yourself here, 'Why would you do this?' And 'who' are you putting in front of your family and personal lives?
What is normal, and what is not?
In the past week one, client let me know when she is under pressure she is at work from 4am. A manager calls one of her team on her personal phone at 9pm at night. Yet another accepts his managers calls when he is on leave. He finds it impossible to respond to his manager's plea, 'it will only take you 5 minutes'. Yet another stays at work until 10pm on a regular basis, to make sure everything was completed before she goes home each night. I am shocked. Why is this perceived as normal? Each of these after-hours requests and expectations were for everyday actions, yet were made as if a state of emergency existed.
Each of these leaders working impossible hours is highly talented yet was unable to say no, either to their boss, or the compulsion they feel to their own standards. Each accepted this invasion into their personal life as if it were 'normal'.
- Why would they put their work in front of their family and friends?
- Why do leaders sacrifice their own life and development, for their career?
- What impact does the building resentments have on work relationships and bottom line results?
- What form does the resulting sense of entitlement take?
What does it take to change?
A dad with young children, Pete was writing for several hours most nights or on the phone. Pete and I were working on what was 'good enough' and what aspects of his work had to be exceptional. He decided to make family a priority from 6pm. A month later I asked what the response to this change had been. He said 'I don't think anyone at work has noticed!' And one of his sons had begun laughing more.
You do have a choice
Maintaining friendships and personal interests is core to developing your identity, your personal well-being, and avoid burnout. It is eas
y to think we don't have a choice. We can't say 'no, that's not possible' to the boss, but really? Here are some options.... 'I'll be in at 8am, let's discuss this then.' Or 'That's not possible'.
Yes, your boss could make your life unpleasant, but it already IS unpleasant with what is going on. It is unpleasant knowing that at any time, your boss will call with an impossible request. What might you do to you tackle this systemically and reset expectations?
Are you cheating yourself?
Reducing your personal life to spend time on other matters is generally cheating yourself. Maintaining your health, friendships and personal interests is core to developing your identity, your personal well-being, and to avoid burnout. Who will be there for you when you really need someone? If you don't invest in your family and friendships, why would anyone be there for you?
Make your time your priority
Knowing your priorities within your work-life, and within your personal life, enables you to seeing time itself as a priority rather than something to 'allocate'.
Decide your priorities for your non-work life. Who is important to you? who would drop everything for you if you asked. Who would you drop everything for? Is your boss one of these people? Why would that be?
Diana Jones © March 2018