How to Achieve Work-Life Balance When You’re Trying to Get Ahead
12:30 pm, July 25th | by Sarah Kaufman, Manilla.com
The last time I wrote about the topic of achieving work-life balance, I was searching for a photo to go along with the article. Feeling particularly uncreative, I resorted to typing “working mom” into the stock photo service search bar. Oddly enough, the first photo that popped up was a white woman on the phone, holding a crying baby. So when I read Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” not long ago, it really resonated with me when she said, “Our culture needs to find a robust image of female success that is first, not male, and second, not a white woman on the phone, holding a crying baby.”
Sandberg has often said that there’s work, and there’s life — no balance. It’s not easy to “have it all,” as many people put it, but there are some things that make having a successful life both at work and at home a bit easier.
Get to know your company.
Before you accept a new position, research and understand the company’s policies so you know where it stands on things like working from home, taking time off and regular office hours. While company policies may not completely sway your decision one way or the other, it will be helpful to know them if you decide you want to spend more time at home with your family, or if you’re planning to start one.
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Communicate at work and at home.
The most important thing is to do your job and do it well, regardless of the hours you work. If you’re a top performer, productive, and consistently produce good results for the company, it’s likely that you and your supervisor can come to an agreement about your schedule’s flexibility. Communicating to your boss about what you need to be able to maintain that work-life balance is essential in seeing the schedule changes you want.
Similarly, keeping everyone at home updated on your schedule is just as important as keeping your boss in the loop. To avoid feeling overwhelmed trying to balance it all, keep everyone aware of plans, afterschool activities and, perhaps most importantly, your hours and schedule changes. If your children or partner understand why you need to work late at home, or spend part of Saturday at your desk, it will be easier on them, less stressful for you, and it will help you get more done faster.
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Adjust your schedule.
Once you’ve confirmed with your supervisor that you’re able to modify your work calendar, take some time to think about the most ideal schedule that will cater to both your home and professional lives. I’ve worked with many executives who have been able to balance their work and home lives by adjusting their schedules to fit the needs of their family, such as leaving the office in time to get home for dinner, or working from home at the end of the week. For example, if you leave at 5:30 p.m. every day, you may be heading out the door before others in the office, but you can make up for that lost time by responding to emails and getting things done for a few hours after the kids are asleep. Working from home on Fridays allows you to physically be at home with your children and still be available to your boss.
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Hire people to help.
Hiring cleaning and other services can get expensive and isn’t always financially possible. But if it is, it can help you avoid unnecessary arguments at home and give you more time to spend with your family. If it’s not in the cards money-wise (or even if it is), get everyone in your family to pitch in with daily chores around the house so you’re not spent doing it during your minimal free time.
Sarah Kaufman is the editor-in-chief of the Manilla Blog at Manilla.com, the leading, free and secure service that helps consumers simplify and organize all of their bills and household accounts in one place online or via the 4+ star customer-rated mobile apps. Sarah is also a regular contributor to Yahoo! Finance, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Redbook, The Motley Fool, The Jane Dough and other sites. For more career development tips and advice, visit the Manilla Blog.