It is a constant theme for each of us to figure out how to juggle the responsibilities of our jobs vs. the demands and joys of our personal lives. With the arrival of the New Year, the Tuchman Advisory Group begins the process of setting goals for 2019 and evaluating how we fared in realizing our 2018 goals. We list our main, stretch and personal goals utilizing the S.M.A.R.T. approach to goal-setting.
The acronym ‘S.M.A.R.T.’ stands for:
• Specific – target a specific area for improvement. Goal should be defined, focused and stated clearly.
• Measurable – you need to be able to quantify an indicator of progress. A measurable goal should include milestones and targets.
• Attainable – don’t set a goal that is out of reach or not realistic. Include a plan that breaks down the overall goal into smaller, more manageable action steps.
• Relevant – state what results make sense given the available resources and current conditions of your industry.
• Time-based – goals cannot be chronologically open-ended. Whether you want to increase revenue by 10% or add 2 new routes, specify when you hope the result will be achieved.
Once your business goals are clearly established using the S.M.A.R.T. system, you may want to address how to accomplish your goals, incorporating a work-life balance. “Seeking a balance between work and life is a quest we can all understand.” states Dr. Michael Tischler, Founder/CEO of TEETH Tomorrow. Tishler believes that “the real key is to create goals that you are passionate about with respect to health/appearance, career and relationships.”
First and foremost in achieving work-life balance is making sure that you enjoy your job. Overall, life will be better if you look forward to what you do every day. Having a hobby or an outlet outside of your job will provide a release from day-to-day obligations. Here are some suggestions to help you find that balance:
♣ Make time for yourself and your loved ones: It can be attending a sporting event, signing up for an art class, taking a music lesson, having a movie night at home, going to the theater, playing in a game/poker night, reading a book, getting a massage, volunteering at an organization that is important to you, or making lunch and dinner dates with friends or family. It is especially helpful to make time for yourself, spouse, children, friends, parents, grandparents and anyone else important in your life. To make sure that these activities happen, schedule them on your calendar.
♣ Exercise: Although exercise is the best way to increase your energy and concentration levels, it is the easiest thing to blow off during a jam-packed day. Choose a set time to exercise, for example a morning yoga class or an afternoon run. If you do not, it probably won’t happen. Having an exercise buddy is the best way to achieve consistency and ensure that you will show up.
♣ Re-evaluate unimportant activities: “Many people waste their time on activities or people that add no value — for example, spending too much time at work with a colleague who is constantly venting and gossiping. Take stock of activities that do not enhance your career or personal life and minimize the time you spend on them. You may even be able to leave work earlier if you make a conscious effort to limit the time you spend on the web and social media sites, making personal calls, or checking your bank balance. We often get sucked into these habits that are making us much less efficient without realizing it,” says Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, a Psychologist and Executive Coach.
♣ Take time to relax: Taking time for yourself does not have to be drastic. Enjoying a hobby or listening to music for 30 minutes can be invigorating. Taking 10 minutes outside to walk around the block without looking at your phone is a good reminder that nature is sometimes the best medicine.
It is important as an employer to encourage work-life balance in your place of business. Susan M. Heathfield, Co-owner of TechSmith Corporation, points out that while “Employers are not responsible for providing work-balance for their employees, they can assist the employees to seek and maintain their own work balance.” Heathfield offers these 8 ideas businesses can implement to support employees in their quest for work-life balance:
1) “Offer a flexible work schedule. A flexible schedule does not mean that employees can come and go at will, a possibility that concerns employers. A flexible-schedule policy spells out what the employer means by flexible hours. In many workplaces, flexible starting and ending times are easy to implement. More sophisticated flexible schedules such as a four-day work week or telecommuting require more planning, but flexible work schedules are a cornerstone of work balance.
2) Offer Paid-Time-Off (PTO). Offer PTO in lieu of traditional paid sick leave, paid personal days and paid vacation. A PTO approach treats employees like adults who are capable of making decisions about how, when and why to use the paid time off supplied by the employer. In a PTO system, neither employers nor employees need to worry about accounting for how the time off was spent. This eliminates confusion and the need for additional policies such as defining what constitutes a sick day.
3) Allow only limited carryover of PTO into another calendar year. If the goal of paid time off is to encourage employees to do just that—take time off—paying employees for the time is counterproductive. Even if employees want to donate the value of their paid time off to a charity or a coworker who has used up his or her time off for valid reasons, these actions do not encourage the work balance and rejuvenation that your employees need.
4) Model the work-life balance yourself. Managers and senior managers need to model the work balance they’d like to encourage their employees to exhibit. When a manager uses PTO to take a vacation, yet responds to email as if she is in the office, this sends a powerful message to employees about whether they need to do email while on vacation. The actions of senior leaders are heard and observed by employees. When a senior manager calls in for unimportant meetings while out of the office, employees get the message. It affects their personal choices for work-and-life balance.
5) Set expectations that time off is indeed time off. With employees electronically connected to the workplace 24/7, work-and-life balance is a challenge. Set up the expectation that when an employee leaves for vacation, it is acceptable, even encouraged to send an email for him stating that he is on vacation with limited access to email. Honor the employee’s PTO by not contacting him unless it is truly an emergency.
6) Allow employees to take unpaid leave as needed for lifecycle needs. Employees have serious, life-changing events, emergency family needs and desires to explore life and career opportunities. While the 12 weeks required by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and employer-leave policies that existed prior to FMLA cover many events, they are not always sufficient. For example, many employers allow employees to take an unpaid leave of absence for: the premature birth of a baby who is hospitalized, nursing a seriously ill parent in another state or attending grad school full-time to complete classes only available during the day,
7) Sponsor monthly activities. Sponsor employee and family events and activities monthly to encourage team-building, friendships among employees and the inclusion of families in work events. At the same time, schedule some of the events for adults only. Provide babysitting at the event or elsewhere, if it will encourage employee attendance.
8) Don’t expect employees to work hard during long hours and weekends all the time. It is okay to expect employees to work long, hard hours during the push for a timely product-release, or at a trade show for three or four days. Employees cannot sustain an extraordinary level of energy and long overtime hours as a constant work expectation. Do not confuse commitment, engagement and dedication with 60 to 70-hour weeks.”
This article is a beginning as you address the possibilities inherent in striking a balance between the pressures of work and the realities of everyday life. There may not seem to be easy answers, but, thinking and acting upon the suggestions made, will provide a vehicle for creating that work-life balance so necessary to leading a fulfilling and meaningful life.