Header Image by Evan Clark
That’s it, right? We’re all juggling daily. Between our professional responsibilities and personal accountabilities lies a litany of tasks, errands, desires and dreams to tend to as well. Honestly, there are days getting a shower and a couple solid meals can be a challenge (or is that just me?).
Add in a pandemic with work from home environments and suddenly the time in the day gets a little more blended and complicated. Finding that balance between things you have to do and things you want to do is harder. There aren’t distinct “working hours” or “family time” mapped out neatly in our calendars anymore.
Learning to find that work-life balance is even more critical in our current situation. Keep reading to get some useful tips for employees and employers to consider when walking along the tightrope of our new daily lives.
Two Strikes – Not Out Yet
As Americans we already have two strikes against us in the work-life struggle. We’re known as the “no- vacation nation.” 23% of American workers don’t get any paid vacation time AND 55% of those who do leave at least some vacation days unused each year.
Of the 36 wealthiest nations in the world that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. is the only one that doesn’t require employers to give paid vacation or holiday time.
Employees who do get paid vacation time left more than 760 million days unused in 2018. 54% reported feeling guilty taking days off and 30% said they checked their email at least daily while on vacation.
Clearly, as employers and employees we have some work to do on taking it easy. Ironic, isn’t it?
Love or Hate – It’s Not Up for Debate
If you’re fortunate to be in a job that you love, you might feel like you don’t need to worry as much about the balance in your life. Think again. There are many studies that support the fact that taking time away from work allows you to jump back in refreshed and ready to be even more efficient. We covered some of this in last month’s blog on self-care. A break can be anything from a dedicated lunch to a day off here and there to a bonafide vacation.
At Motivation Excellence, our owner and CEO, David Jobes, offers paid vacation, holidays, your hire date anniversary off AND two days off to do charity work each year. There’s also the opportunity to purchase additional days off.
“It’s about loving what you do and being able to spend time doing what you want as well. It’s an important balance and I want our team members to have the opportunity to be efficient and happy at work so they can enjoy their out-of-work hours even more.” – David Jobes
Employees need to make sure they take advantage of their employers’ offerings. Personally, I keep track of time off in an excel file and I visit it at least monthly to make sure I’m on track to use my time off effectively. We all need to be self-advocates too. No one knows better than you if you’re hitting that CODE RED level and need to take an afternoon, a day or a week off to bring the boiling point back down. If you were sick, you’d take time to rest. It’s the same concept with vacation – and you get to enjoy the day without sniffles or a fever!
Planning & Flexibility – The Yin and Yang of Time Off
Even if you have nowhere to go, planning time off in advance allows you to prepare yourself to leave work for a while. You can get clients up to date and warn your coworkers you’ll be out of touch for a while.
For people with young children, the pull of family versus work time is real, especially in pandemic times! Scheduling planned time-outs from work can help parents connect with their kids while also allowing coworkers to know you’re out of pocket at this same time every day or week. If you have a flexible work schedule you can make up that time when the kids are settled in for a movie after dinner. If it’s an option, take a half day of vacation here and there to help navigate time on and time off.
As much as planned time off work is nice, there’s nothing quite like taking a last minute afternoon when your schedule allows! Flexibility is critical to creating a balance between what needs to get done and what you want to do. Some days might end up being very work heavy without that being the plan at the start. Other days might open up without notice (canceled meetings anyone?). Being able to pivot and repurpose chunks of time will help create that balance we all need.
A Work In Progress – You Can Do It
It doesn’t have to be one or the other: work or life. It’s about incorporating everything throughout the day in healthy doses. And as this is the month we celebrate fathers, please men, remember to shine a light on all your amazing attributes. Be goofy dad and date night hubby, along with respected colleague and BBQ champion. When your life is balanced it makes your whole world and all those who love you feel more at ease in every way.
The bottom line is we all tend to struggle with work-life balance from time to time. When you find yourself about to drop a plate, two balls, and a lit torch all at once, remember to take a break. You can rotate all those pieces back into the juggling routine (well, you might need a new plate) one at a time. You might find that after some practice you’re actually a pretty skilled juggler.