Managing Work Life Balance

Work life balance is one of the more difficult parts of life when balancing personal goals in the present, and future.  The continuous competition between working, personal life, and family seems as it always compete for the few hours of the day.  The importance of balancing these aspect can allow anyone to be successful is all aspects, but setting boundaries is a must and focusing on one’s personal goals .  The following posts will outline and give some personal perspective the the attached HBR article.

1. Understanding your goals – Defining success in your life is a very personal experience and it is different for everyone.  This could mean being happy working in a stable job or range from moving up the corporate ladder which requires a significant amount of risk or travel.  To be successful in life one must under stand what they want, but also realize the this will evolve over time.  This article also notes a couple difference on gender like woman defining professional success as individual achievement while men may look at on going learning opportunities and development challenges.

2. Building support networks – The book “True North” and the HBR article touch on having those around you inside and outside of work who can help you deal with life responsibilities.  The true north specifically says that have two separate groups is always beneficial.  This brings two different perspectives and allows you to have an unbiased opinion in personal and business life.  For instance I have very close friends from who I grew up with, business associates from my previous jobs, but through my time at depaul gained people who I can bounce ideas off of who will give me a different perspective.  The reality is when you are young you thing you can control everything, but life brings difficulties in which you need others to support you.  Having a support network makes a world of difference.

3. Technology – Cell phones and the availability of emails makes it difficult to disconnect from work.  This pressure adds and competes with an employees or executives personal life. The phrase business never sleeps comes to mind, but on the other hand employees are ineffective when they do not unplug from work.  The importance of removing technology allows for the executive to be 100% when they are at home and keeps the family bonds strong.  Investment in your personal life adds value to the work and allows you to be vested.  Mixing these two spheres of ones life leads to confusion, issues and mistakes.

If you have any more ideas or thoughts pleas check out the attached link.

thank you for reading

14 thoughts on “Managing Work Life Balance

  1. I think this is an important topic that is often overlooked. Within my work place, we have a network of companies that all work together. We often times interact with United Kingdom facilities, west coast facilities, east coast facilities, and mid-western facilities on a singular project. In some cases, our customers could be in a different country as well. This creates a network of project team members that are on completely different time zones. With that as the case, the phone and email never stop. I often times found myself as well as my team members answering phone calls in the middle of the night, or looking at my work phone during dinner.

    After a while, I realized that this mode of execution was not as effective; our team was suffering from “burn out” due to the unsung expectation that when somebody calls, you answer. That should be true during the work day of course, with some margin before and after. However, I have found that our team executes better when “time off is time off”. Our project team members are more fresh, have better ideas, and are more motivated.

    I also feel that this article should touch on vacation time. Folks go on vacation but take their phones with them and do not truly disconnect. Vacation time is not only meant for time with family, but for decompressing and coming back stronger at work.

    Do you feel that companies, in order to improve productivity, should ensure vacation time (PTO) is time truly away from work? Do you think employees improve their productivity when they work while at work and spend time away from work totally disconnected?

    I have found that bringing work home actually impacts the personal life, which may seem obvious, but an impact to the personal life tends to effect work life. I see team members having resentment toward employers when they start having a frustrating personal life (family frustrations) due to working around the clock with a cell phone. Do you think that perhaps employers will begin making rules about this?

    Reference an article in which employers are beginning to count “email at night” an actual chargeable time:

  2. Interesting article. I think managing work life balance has become very critical in today’s world. Especially, with the advanced technology around. As you mentioned in your post, with the availability of cell phone and emails it is increasingly becoming difficult for person to stay away from work and this does have a great impact on one’s personal life. Personally, I have been experiencing the same thing. I totally agree with the article that removing the technology allows people to pay full attention to the family and makes the family bond strong. Which in turn can allow that person to give 100% at work and improve their productivity at work.

  3. I found this article to be realistic and an interesting read. Specifically, it’s interesting to read about the emotional gap between male and female. Since I am a women, a mother, a wife, a student, and a professional, I can relate some of the things mentioned in this article. It becomes a challenge to maintain my professional life and be great at everything around me. Yes, I have the mother’s guilt when I miss something that I think is significant event. However, being enrolled in the cohort MBA program for the last two years, I have redefined the word important. I have also set boundaries at work.
    One great thing about my position and my employer is that we are not allowed to bring work at home. That means no phone calls or emails. At first, not having kids, I thought that I could do this at home, but as soon as I had kids, I enjoy being ‘unplugged’ when I come home. I have met women leaders and have heard from them how challenging it is to maintain work-life balance. These women sometimes work 12-15 hours a day to keep up with constant emails that flow into their inbox and managing personnel. They also travel three-four times in a month and I could see that it takes a toll on their personal life. Eventually, these women change jobs or their spouse usually become a stay at home dad to care for the family.

  4. This is a very interesting topic. I enjoyed reading the article especially that the topic is frequently discussed in my company during many of our meetings. Many individuals taking vacation time still tend to be plugged into their electronics and feel the need to follow anything that is happening at work. However, many people do not like to admit that when phone calls are forwarded to someone else and when email reply is set to “out of the office” response, the company will continue to function and operate just fine. That is not to say that each employee is easily replaceable. I simply suggest that by being away form work for few days will not make a drastic difference.

    Having balance between family, friends, and work is critical to allow for a less hectic lifestyle. This topic is not only important for new mothers that feel the pressure at work and having to take on a new responsibility such as motherhood. This is important for every individual wanting to maintain emotional and physical well being.

    Thanks for that article. I think every company should stress the importance of proper life balance.

  5. Great post, and a topic that is of great personal importance to me. At my last job I was constantly on call and having to check email once I left the office for the day. For me having to be constantly plugged in was stressful and very distracting for in the other parts of my life. Eventually, it lead to burnout and me wanting to pursue another line of work. Now I have more flexible hours, and when I leave work for the day very rarely do I have to check email or answer calls related to work. I feel that it is very important for people, especially in today’s world of instant communication and “time is money” mentality, to set up their own personal boundaries between work and their personal lives. Just as the article said this can lead to a re-energized employee, who is more effective during work hours and overall happier with their job.

  6. This is a great post! I absolutely have a mix of my home and work life. Being in a family business there’s always something that needs to be done and it usually blends over into the after office hours in order to be ready for the next day. Technology is big part of the problem as I have 6 different work emails that I constantly check and update in order to effectively manage the three branches and over 220 employees our company has. I need to do a better job of unplugging and giving myself a few hours each night, besides sleep, where I can completely relax.

  7. Great article! To me, work and life are similar to two projects. You need to manage both projects well. Sometimes these two can be overlapped. For example, if you really like your job, you are more willing to spend your personal time during weekends to work. There is no conflict between the two. However, in most cases, we want to balance the two because admit it or not, most people work for pay checks, not for fun. This is where the conflicts come from. There is no simple solution to this tough question.

  8. Great topic. Thanks for sharing. I think work/life balance is always in the back of everyone’s mind, but only comes out when you’re at the tipping point of burn out. As Matt’s post stated, it’s so important for your personal health/well-being to remember what your personal/professional goals are, have support networks for guidance, venting, and brainstorming areas that need some work, and realizing that the Blackberry ruined the world (well developed nations). Haha
    I read an article related to Ryan’s comment on the importance of flexibility at his new company. It’s interesting to see that there are two takes on work/life balance. One is that it doesn’t really exist, because when are you ever really unplugged? The other is working around it by implementing a flexible schedule. A flexible schedule is supposed to be a better approach because by integrating your personal and professional life, you’re able to focus on all aspects of life with a clearer mind. Does anyone agree with the concept of work/life integration as a way to help you be successful in both aspects of life?
    I agree with the concept to a certain extent, for example, I wouldn’t feel guilty about coming into work late to get repairs done on my car and pressured to make up the missed time by working late. However, I don’t want to get urgent calls and emails while I’m at the gym or out with family/friends. This is definitely a tough topic void of one simple solution. Maybe flexibility is the key to incorporate everything, I just haven’t gotten there yet. Hopefully one day, and soon, I will.

  9. Great article! Thanks for sharing!
    I am a big supporter of flexible work schedules. However, there are several companies including mine that still thinks that the flexible work hours are a perk. But the trend is moving toward embracing flexible work hours and smart companies will quickly figure out that to attract and retain top talent in the future they would have to offer flexible work programs. The main reasons why I prefer flexible schedules is because of the work life balance – I can pick my daughter on time and drop her off for extracurricular lessons in the afternoon and work couple of hours in the night to finish up my work. This way I can get the work done and personally take my daughter for her after school classes and get involved. Another reason is that, I can save almost 2hrs a day that I sit in the car and I can use that time to go to the gym to stay healthy.
    Several people think they would be more productive working from home as that would reduce involvement in office politics, will reduce interruptions from colleagues and other distractions. There are lot of companies trying to promote more in-person collaboration by removing cubicle walls and corralling people into open workspaces to create a more effective team. But, in my opinion this is all waste of time and increase more distractions. My preference would be a nice Hybrid arrangement of a 50-50 split between working from home and working in the office, allowing employees to collaborate face-to-face with coworkers in the office, while also choosing alternative locations for independent work where focus is crucial.

  10. Matt, thank you for sharing this post. It spoke to me and I am certain it spoke to many others that have a difficult time balancing their personal and professional lives in this highly intense and non-stop city.

    When I read the paragraph on technology making it nearly impossible to pry yourself away from work, it immediately made me think of a recent discussion within my current company. In response to a widespread company anger towards late-night work phone calls and e-mails, my company discussed the possibility of releasing a policy banning late-night work e-mails or phone calls. They have recognized that these after-hours work phone calls and/or e-mail cause distractions in everyone’s personal life. It is still an on-going discussion that is being handled with much consideration.

    In my opinion, it is difficult enough finding the strength to pry yourself away from work life. There is no reason that an after-hours phone call or e-mail should seep so easily into an employee’s personal life. It is too difficult to focus on your personal life when your professional life invades your home with an e-mail or phone call. For this reason, many of the employees at my companies are happy that the new policy is being considered. This will help to keep the work-life situation balanced.

  11. Great post and obviously a pressing topic for a number of students in class. I agree with others sentiments that having a balance is critical for overall success, both at work and in your personal life. However, I find it hard to disconnect from technology and work even when I am on vacation or away from the office. Setting boundaries when away is a critical component for me, although never an easy one. If I am away from the office I might say I will check my email or messages three times that day at designated times only and that keeps me from grabbing for my phone every time it rings or vibrates with a new email. My company is now global and receiving emails at night due to the time change in Europe is a fairly common occurrence, but I still try and set boundaries most nights by say not responding to emails after 9 pm or before 8 am. Building a support network, especially your spouse, is a great bullet point from the article. My wife works for the same company so she understands the culture, most days anymore. Our department has work-from-home days once a week, but the company itself has failed to take a real stance in providing work-life balance options. Unfortunately, like a lot of things in my company, everything comes down to manager discretion. If your manager is a big proponent of work-life balance and work-from-home options, the employee can take full advantage of a number of great options (on-site gym, flexible hours, work-from-home options, etc). However, if your manager does not approve of those there is little recourse for the employee expect to leave, sometimes with that the company is losing a great employee. With the technology aspect mentioned, I feel there are very few corporate jobs that could not allow at least one telecommute day a week and still be as or more productive than being in the office. With the added value of some balance for the employee, at least for one day. Great article, thanks again.

  12. When I first read your title, my immediate response was “what’s that?” ha ha. I really enjoyed reading this article.
    I recently removed my work email from my personal phone because it was infiltrating my personal time too much. At first, having it there enabled me to go home before dinner and easily access my email and calendar after my kids went to bed, so it was a convenience. When I travelled for work I felt more prepared to join a meeting knowing nothing had come up while I was on a plane. More recently though, it has just made me feel like I have no separation from work, so removing it from my phone has been amazing. I really agree with the statement in the article: “I want to give my kids 100% of my attention. But this also works the other way around, because when I’m at work I really want to focus on work.”
    I liked the section on having a shared vision of success for everyone in the home. In a dual income family, we have to make decisions that work for both of us. I made a decision not to move to Boston for work because it wasn’t something that my husband and I wanted to do with our kids. I also found the observation interesting that”male executives tend to praise their partners for making positive contributions to their careers, whereas women praise theirs for not interfering.” I hope that these gender norms are starting to change because my husband definitely enables my career by sharing responsibilities and sometimes picking up my slack when I travel for work or when I have class. I wonder if our generation will share a different perspective when we are the senior executives.

  13. I think it is so important to have a work/life balance. It is one of the reasons why I’m going to school now and waiting to start a family with my husband. I know many people juggle school, work and then a home with children but I didn’t want to have to split my attention from school and my family. I want to be 100% focused on school and finish as soon as I can so I can work on my personal family goals like having children, buying a home, etc. When I’m at work, I also like to be focused and put my best foot forward. I have stopped checking Facebook during work hours because it was distracting me too much from work. I get the occasionally text but I also try to keep those to a minimum so I can be as productive as possible. When 5 PM comes around, I forget about work and focus on my home life. Building support networks has definitely kept me grounded. Many people that surround me do not have the same aspirations as I do so going back to grad school and surrounding myself with equally devoted people has not only motivated me but has also opened my mind to new perspectives.

  14. Thanks for sharing this article. While it is all applicable, I’ll keep my comments to two areas most meaningful to me. First is that if I’ve learned anything while pursuing my MBA its that having the right partner is invaluable. By “right” I mean the one who gives you what you need in the way you need it – there’s no one set definition of what that means but every person out there who wants to be in a relationship needs to spend time figuring out if the person is a good PARTNER for them. I got lucky when I found mine, but I wish someone had given me that specific advice decades ago.
    Second, work/life balance is good for all of us – not just women and not just men. People need to figure out for themselves what that looks like, just as the article suggests but being present at whatever you’re doing: work, school, family time; is a critical part of that somewhat illusive work / life balance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *