Adjusting Your Work-Life Balance
10+ Ideas for Finding More Time for Your Family at Home and at Work
Among the more surprising findings of Boston Private’s recent Why of Wealth Report: Even those who appear to “have it all” in terms of financial and business success, still regret not having more family time. In fact, almost half of the people surveyed (47%) cited spending more time with family as the number one thing they would have done differently had they not devoted so much time to accumulating wealth.
In addition, the survey discovered that regrets about lost family time were more pronounced among very wealthy individuals (64%) and business owners (55%).
How one executive rediscovered his family – and his entrepreneurial spirit
Like many of those surveyed, Renaud Megard might well have included himself among the 47% who regretted not spending more time with his family, had he not made the decision almost three years ago to reset his work-life balance.
The father of four was a successful, fully committed, hard-charging executive for an international corporation. He flew so frequently to destinations all over the world, that he remembers the flight attendants “began calling me by my first name.” That was a hint that he was traveling too much, says Megard. But it wasn’t until his daughter graduated from high school that he became acutely aware of all that he had been missing.
“When I saw that my #2 child was going to college, I realized that – wow! – I barely knew her.” That realization, he says, drove him to re-evaluate his priorities and “recalibrate” his situation to “think about what was important in my life.”
His critical soul-searching led him to the decision to get off the corporate treadmill and purchase a small business close to home, where he could also fulfill his life-long passion to be an entrepreneur. Today, with his new priorities firmly in place, he enjoys a deeper connection with his children as he grows his new business.
“Now my favorite part of the day is having breakfast with my kids and sending them off to school because they give me all the positive energy to be ready for anything during that day,” boasts Megard. As a result, he says, “I love my life 10 times more than before.”
Hear Megard tell his story in the Why of Wealth video on BostonPrivate.com.
A common challenge for both men and women
Recent research from the University of Georgia suggests that Megard is not alone in wanting to resolve the conflict between work and family. It is a burden shared equally by working men and women, according to Kristen Shockley, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Georgia. She and her colleagues analyzed 350 studies involving more than 250,000 individuals only to discover that – in spite of the fact that gender roles are changing and that more mothers are in the workforce – both fathers and mothers feel similar levels of work-family conflict.1
A 2013 study by Pew Research,2 reached similar conclusions, finding that about half (53%) of all working parents with children under age 18 said it was difficult for them to balance the responsibilities of their jobs with the responsibilities of their families. There was no significant gap in attitudes between mothers and fathers either: 56% of mothers and 50% of fathers said juggling work and family life was difficult for them.
What steps can you take to achieve a better balance?
Like Renaud Megard, you might consider changing your career focus so you can concentrate more deliberately on your family. Or you can make smaller, incremental changes over time like the ones below suggested by researchers at Boston College Center for Work & Family3 and other experts in work-life balance.4 The idea is to be more productive at work so you can feel more confident about leaving it all behind when you go home to spend time with your family.
1. Take time out to re-evaluate what’s important to you, then set your priorities and align your time with them.
Ask yourself, “If I could only focus on one thing right now, what would it be?” That answer is your top priority. If you find yourself spending time on things that don’t align with your priorities, eliminate or delegate them.
2. Concentrate on one thing at a time.
Forget multi-tasking. It’s physically impossible to focus well on two things at the same time. Instead, devote your full attention to the task at hand. When you are working, work. When you are spending time with your family, focus solely on them.
3. Work smarter.
- Learn to say “no” – or “yes, but …”
- Devote your peak energy times to your most important tasks.
- Think twice before scheduling more meetings. Decide which meetings could be replaced with a conference call or an email update and cancel them.
- Consider business travel carefully. Leverage virtual technology or other alternatives to save travel time if possible.
- Establish meeting-free Fridays and use the time to complete assignments, or work on creative projects or problem solving tasks that require your full attention.
4. Reserve most of your nights and all of your weekends for family only.
Unless a business critical issue requires it, you shouldn’t have to participate in teleconferences and/or meetings at night or during the weekends. Nor should you expect your colleagues to do so.
5.Take your vacation time and holiday breaks and DO NOT work on those days.
Like getting exercise, taking time away from work is critically important for boosting your energy and re-booting your psyche.
According to a report in Harvard Business Review on Project Time Off’s State of American Vacation 2016 survey5 55% of employees had unused vacation days at the end of the year. (That figure dropped to 52% last year.) Worse still, the research found that taking less vacation time can actually hurt your chances of getting a raise, while increasing your stress levels.
While you’re away, delegate responsibilities to others on your team who can respond to work-related issues until you return. Then plan to do the same for them when they are away.
1. Deliberately schedule time on your calendar each day for family.
- Gather together for at least one meal every day to share values and stay connected. (If dinner is a problem due to teenage schedules, how about breakfast?)
- Consider a family game night
- Devote your weekends to family activities
2. Be physically and mentally present and fully participate in your children’s lives when you are with them.
3. Maximize your energy with exercise, sleep, and mindfulness.
- Get plenty of sleep and exercise to increase your energy, relieve stress, clear your mind, and ultimately become more productive. Even if it just means taking a walk around the block, you’ll find that exercise will help you face family and personal commitments with renewed vigor.
In fact, a combined research study on the effects of exercise conducted by four universities in Illinois, Missouri, Texas, and Florida found that people who carved out time for exercise reported lower levels of stress and higher confidence in their abilities to handle work-family conflicts.6
- Take periodic breaks during the work day to reserve some energy for family in the evening.
- Practice mindfulness to tap into extra energy, creativity, and problem-solving ability.
4. Set boundaries.
Technology can blur the line between your work life and personal life. Turn off your devices at times that are important for your family and let other key people in your life, including your work team, know you’ll be back in touch later.
5. Delegate at home too.
- Build a team of friends and family who can help you out in a pinch; and be ready to reciprocate when they need your help too.
- Identify the tasks you don’t like, aren’t good at, or you feel are not worth the sacrifice of family time such as food and clothes shopping, bill paying, investing, cleaning, cooking, laundry, or yard work. Then outsource them to someone else – or to another family member.
- Consider hiring a nanny, cook, or housekeeper who also can help with errands and driving.
- Take advantage of Family Office and concierge-type services.
How Boston Private can help
Your Boston Private Wealth Advisor can be a valuable resource as you work to maintain the all-important balance between work life and home life. For example, he or she can work with your other advisors to take a holistic approach to wealth management that integrates your investing, retirement, and estate and legacy planning activities; reflects your business and personal goals; and saves you considerable time and energy.
In addition, our Family Office services can relieve you from the day-to-day details of personal accounting, tax accounting, budgeting and cash flow management, bill paying, insurance, and other money matters to free up time you can spend with your family.
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5- The Data-Driven Case for Vacation, Harvard Business Review, July 13, 2016 https://hbr.org/2016/07/the-data-driven-case-for-vacation and https://projecttimeoff.com/the-research/
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