Do you have that coveted work-life balance? Often portrayed as a 50-50 split between work and life this can be an unrealistic expectation for many because this balance will look different for everyone. Not only that, but things change, priorities change and this balance needs to change with it. The truth is, work-life balance is a cycle and we have to check in with ourselves periodically to see how we're doing.
Work-life balance is a goal for many of us. It’s often the reason why we train as coaches in the first place so that we set our own schedule and plan our days and weeks with our priorities in mind.
However, priorities shift, what's important to us shifts, and we need to keep checking in with ourselves and see if this is working for us. Have we got the balance right between all the really important things?
We know that as life changes, priorities shift and depending on where you are in your life, in your career, in your coaching journey, you will have different goals you are working towards and you will have different priorities.
So when thinking of work-life balance it's important to focus on what works for you and not the romanticised version of a 50/50 split because this might set unrealistic expectations that are not what you're really looking for.
That's why we need to make sure we're checking in periodically and answer these important questions.
1. Start with your priorities
What is important to you? Make a list of 6-8 priorities in your life. The wheel of life might be a perfect tool to use so you can have a visual representation.
Make sure that you add your priorities to your weekly schedule first and that it will include scheduled time for your must-haves( for ex. time to work out, time to rest, or time with your family).
The next step is to think about how you can make this work.
Rachel introduced us to the process of self-negotiation, the process where you essentially negotiate with yourself how you will shift things around so you can make sure that your priorities get on the list and stay on the list.
Consider the resources you have. Who could help you? Who could you rely on for support? What financial investments can you make so you’re spending your time on what’s important, not what you ‘should be’ doing?
2. Set your boundaries
Boundaries help us make sure that priorities stay priorities. They can be physical, emotional, tangible and virtual.
Before the pandemic, many had clear, tangible work boundaries. To get to work, we stepped out of the house, took the train, entered the office, turned on the office computer. At the end of the day, we turned it off, left the office, got on the tube, walked back through the door.
The boundary between work and life was clear and tangible.
If you're working from home, whether for a company or for yourself, you need to make sure you create a boundary for yourself a clear space that is work.
This can include less tangible things like taking a few minutes to reset yourself between client calls, meetings, it can include shutting down your laptop and going outside in your garden for a breath of fresh air before interacting with the rest of your family.
Who do you need to communicate your boundary with? You might need to tell your clients what time you are available for check-ins, you’re colleagues that you’re not available outside of work hours or your family that you cannot be disturbed when you have your headphones on.
It can include anything you need to shift your state from a work mode to an off-work mode.
What comes to mind for you?
3. Set yourself up for success within your environment
Our environment can often be a productivity blocker. If you're working from home, especially when you first started, you might have worked at your dinner table with your child next to you, drawing and talking to you while you are trying to work.
Consider what could you do to create a work environment for yourself?
It could be a separate room in the house that you can set up as an office. It could simply be having a process of setting up for work and then unwinding this at the end of the day.
Think about how you can minimise distractions. Would you be opening the door if you would be in an office? Consider the little things that often disturb your workflow and come up with ideas to manage them.
How can you make working from home work for you?
How can you make working while travelling work for you?
Whatever your situation, these will often be little things that you can do to set yourself up for success. It could be putting your phone on silent for an hour, shutting the door so you don’t get disturbed, waking up earlier than your family or closing your notifications.
4. Own your holidays
It’s so important to take some time off from work, no matter what you are planning to spend your time on.
Holidays and days off are proven to have many mental health and productivity benefits, like reducing stress, increasing creativity and offers a reward for your hard work so that you can do it all over again.
Take this time for your priorities outside of work, whether that's recharging and re-energising yourself, spending more time with your family, friends or even with yourself.
Who do you need to tell that you’re on holiday? Make sure you communicate it to people you work with and set up an out of office email.
Often people feel compelled to work because they have access to their laptops, so they tell the people they work with that ‘I’m on holiday, but I’ll be next to my computer anyway so feel free to message me if you need anything’.
Keep to your boundaries and remember, it’s your responsibility to take of yourself just as well as you usually take care of others.
Sometimes it's difficult to make a lot of time for yourself away from work especially if you have many responsibilities at your company or if you’re running your own business. But ask yourself – how can you make this happen for yourself?
And then communicate it with others. It's important for the people you work with, your family, your clients, to know when they can reach out to you and when you are unavailable so everyone has clear expectations.
What do you need to sustain your wellbeing and balance work and life in a way that works for you? There is a shift these days about prioritising ourselves and our goals over other people’s expectations, so don’t be afraid of the hard conversations – you never know where it might lead.
And if you’re a coach, running your own business, remember why you started in the first place? As coaches, we know that being fully present with our clients and supporting them requires us to be the best versions of ourselves. That means, working towards our priorities in a way that works for us as much as for our clients.
Join Rachel Russell on the Coaching Effective Work-Life Balance training that starts on the 3rd of August. This is a comprehensive 6-hour training part of our CPD Programme so you know you will be equipping yourself with new skills, tools and strategies to empower your clients within areas that matter most to them.
This week's Coach in the Spotlight is Larisa Barker, who chose coaching to help her clients with their business goals. Today, she blends her coaching skills with her marketing expertise to offer a unique business coaching service. Enjoy her insightful interview!