How’s that “work-life balance” thing going for you lately, girlfriend?

Does your day flow effortlessly from mother, wife, partner to professional, career-driven queen?

Or, on most days, do you find yourself either completing no work or having no life?

Seriously. It’s a struggle.

It’s making us sick, literally.

Trying to find a work-life  balance makes most women either feel guilty (or incompetent) no matter which way the pendulum swings on any given day.

What if I told you there was a very simple secret you could implement next week that would make this balance exponentially better?

It’s as simple as one, two, three

 One: Schedule the Balance First.  Just like automating your 401K out of your paycheck before you ever see it, you must schedule the balance first.  Pull out your calendar. (No really….pull it out.) Look at your week as a blank slate. If you need to do this on a clean sheet of paper first, go ahead.  Schedule the must-haves for balance. I aim for three each week. One for my personal health (my CrossFit workouts at least three days), one for my mental health (Mani-Pedi anyone?) and one for my relationship health (drinks with friends, dinner with my love).

Now… and here is the important part, schedule the work around the balance.

7am meeting on Monday? No problem, that will be the day I leave a little early to catch the 5:30pm workout. 6pm conference call Wednesday night? The Mani-Pedi will feel like an indulgence at noon. Stop looking at the calendar from 8am-5pm. We all know that we work before that time and after that time given the circumstances. Most balance in life doesn’t neatly fall outside of those constraints. (Can anyone say lunch date with your kids at school?)

 Two: Schedule Time to Get Work Done. My calendar used to be at the mercy of all who needed me. I accepted any meeting planner I was sent, no matter the time or day, and found myself struggling to get the actual work done (much less find 30 minutes to grab lunch). Not anymore. We teach others how to treat us. By not setting boundaries on my schedule, I was sending the message (and setting others expectations) that every request was urgent, and my time was not valuable.

I now block 90 minute periods of “work time) at least once or twice a day. Meetings fill in around that time. If my schedule is 100% blocked, we meet the following week.  I only deviate from this schedule if it is a true “emergency” which is few and far between. I have learned that someone else’s deadline (that they may have procrastinated) is not my emergency. I will help when able, but if I don’t show myself respect for my time, no one else will.

Three: Compensate for on/off fluctuations in work volume.  Work-life balance has an overall ebb and flow. It is balance over time. If I have a week or two where work volume is increased due to a regulatory visit or staffing crisis, I bend. I cancel or postpone things in my personal life so that I can be there to handle the crisis. The same, however, holds true for my personal life.

Last month I sold our home of 16 years and needed to rearrange/reschedule and delegate certain work obligations so that I could attend to the multiple showings, work orders, and real estate meetings that had to happen under the gun. I made sure to communicate frequently with my boss and my team so that everyone understood the time frame that I would be unavailable and distracted.

I talked myself out of the normal guilt I would feel. I gave myself the grace I would give a colleague. And guess what? Work survived.  Pay attention to your effort overall. My guess is that you always err on the side of choosing work. That is where the imbalance begins.

This secret is not new.

Challenge yourself to try it next week.

Let me know how it works for you.

If you are like me, it will be life-changing.

As an Empowered Woman, you will want to pass it on… all good secrets, they are sometimes better when shared.


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