Almost every company’s careers page makes some comment about good work-life balance. Work-life balance is a mainstay topic for corporate HR types and almost always present on a companies career website. While it seems important to discuss work-life balance during the hiring process, it’s just wrong. There’s no such thing as work like balance. People identify through their work. Ask the next person you meet what they do. You’ll get an answer like, “I’m a software engineer” or “I’m a mechanic.”
The correct phrasing is Work Life Integration. How does your job mesh with the other aspects of your life? What importance do you give to your job in relation to all other things in your life? As you cannot ignore your life or your work integration has to be the priority.
Build trust with your co-workers and work as a team. Recognize that each person you work with struggles integrating work and non-work life together. Surround yourself with people who respect your values and have strong work ethics.
Work as a team and support one another through these challenges. The relationships will become strong and a valuable asset. My team recently faced a crisis late on a Friday afternoon. The technical leader of the team had taken the day off to celebrate his 10 year wedding anniversary. Despite his expertise and ability, we refused to interrupt his special day and resolved the issue without him. I am confident when I need his support in return I will have it.
Be organized. Know what you’re going to do when and where. Like the Boy Scouts say: “Be Prepared.” If you are organized and know the plan, you can adapt when the plan changes.
“Begin with the end in mind” – Stephen Covey
Draw hard lines. Know early and communicate often when the line is getting close. Share with your team and your management that there are specific times or events that take precedent and you cannot work through. In return offer to help your team and your management through their issues. Flex your hard lines only in true emergencies – when lives or the success of your business is at stake.
Most importantly, work is part of life, just like family, friend and hobbies. All are important and all have to be meshed together in a manner that fits your needs.
“Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls– family, health, friends, integrity– are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.”
― Gary Keller