The alluring jingle of an ice cream truck, trips to the local pool, family vacations. Summer is what memories are made of. As the academic year draws to an end, every student from kindergarten to grad school brims with glee. Working professionals can get in on the fun too, but must face a balancing act that is fair to themselves, their families and their employers.
Work/life balance was initially recognized as a concern for working mothers in the 1980s, but has since evolved. When you combine modernized gender ideologies with decades of technological growth and accessibility, we get a dramatic new landscape of where, when and how work gets done.
Work/Life balance means different things to different people. Ultimately we all yearn for a balance that allows us to effectively manage our responsibilities without sacrificing our physical, psychological, and social wellbeing. Before summer kicks off, take some time to formulate your work/life gameplan.
Learn your employer’s policies
According to the Journal of Vocational Behavior, 55% of U.S. companies allow employees to occasionally work from home, with one-third of companies letting employees work off-site regularly. If you don’t know your employer’s policies inside and out, we suggest you start there. It never hurts to ask.
If you get time off and won’t be reachable while away, don’t pretend to be. Nothing burns trust faster. Vice versa, if you’ve committed to taking a vacation, then take your vacation! Constantly checking email and messages on your phone can erode all the fun around you. Friends and family will bear the brunt, too. Put simply: If you’re working off-site, work like normal. If you’re on vacation, don’t bring work with you.
Enjoy the sunshine
You can still be a productive employee and reap the benefits of sunny weather. Take your lunch outdoors, consider moving small meetings outside, walk as often as you can. Extensive research points to several mental benefits of sunshine exposure, including increased brain production of mood-lifting neurotransmitter serotonin.
When all else fails, schedule
Recently, 24 entrepreneurs and startup leaders were asked for their No. 1 actionable tip in achieving optimal work/life balance. While there were many great tips (some of which are spotlighted above), the most mentioned piece of advice was simple: Schedule everything.
• “I use the same system that I do at work – schedule it in! Block off times in your calendar to meet friends and family…” – Sid Bharath, Thinkific
• “Setting a schedule. My work day pauses at 5 p.m.” – William Harris, Elumynt
• “Schedule recurring ‘family time’ in your calendar. In my house, Sundays are family days.” – Rick Perreault, Unbounce
Keep in mind, when it comes to the right work/life balance, nothing is one-size-fits-all. For some, eating dinner with family every Friday is sufficient. For others, dinner with the family seven days a week is a must. For some, squeezing in an hour of Netflix after work will satisfy entertainment needs. For others, it’s embarking on a day-hike every weekend. Ultimately, you decide what’s realistic when it comes to balancing the priorities in your life.
Kevin Kruse, New York Times bestseller and regular Forbes contributor, boils it down nicely: “If you want to have an amazing life, you have to be intentional about it. Your calendar is the plan for your time. And time equals life.”
Things to Consider:
• Whether working remotely or taking time off, be honest with your availability.
• Schedule your life like you would your workday, personal commitments are just as important.
• Remember that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all work/life balance.