Simple Work-Life Balance Philosophy
I am sure you will have had someone tell you that they need to look at their work-life balance, more than once in your working career. I have personally found it occurs most often in times of increased stress, such as upcoming tight deadlines, trying to win major sales pitches or even during project peaks. It may even be a phrase that you yourself have used! However, rarely do I find people make any changes to their way of life after saying this.
For me any change is about understanding the issue, having a vision for the future, committing to the new way and then the key stage of adoption.
How to tackle the work-life balance issue?
In 2013 I was working in Finland on a regular basis and I read an article by Alexander Stubb, who was then the Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs. He described in the onboard flight magazine, and subsequent communications with him, how he tried to live his life against a very simple philosophy - 8*8*8 (8 hours sleep, 8 hours work and 8 hours personal/family time). He was trying to balance his work against fitness and a young family.
Whilst very simple, this philosophy is how I try and approach my life. Obviously it's not always possible but at least something I am aware of. Each evening I reflect on the day's actions and ask myself, did I really split my time effectively. This was further heightened in 2017, when my daughter was diagnosed with a rare gene deficiency called "Wiedemann-Steiner Syndrome". This was my own wake up call to make sure that the Family sector was in balance.
The 8*8*8 philosophy is actually a powerful tool due to its simplicity. Simply jotting up your hours takes only seconds but is a constant reminder for balancing your day.
For me, a model/philosophy needs to be simple so that it can be embedded quickly!
Whilst I agree that its not possible to get the balance everyday, I personally think that if there is a constant in-balance, that action is needed. That could be anything from modifying your role to looking for a new job. We are all different but the simple model above can be changed to reflect personal levels, for example I normally try to make sure I schedule an hour a day for exercise, for example by walking to/from the office, getting out for a lunch time walk or even making sure I leave on time to take my son's football coaching session.
Perhaps it is a life-work balance we are actually looking for!
So next time someone mentions to you that they want to get a better work-life balance, ask them how they are going to do it? At least you can suggest a way to help them change.
The original article by Alexander Stubb can be seen at the link below, page 42 entitled "It's the calendar, stupid!"