September 12, 2017

Measuring Work/Life Balance Success

You (think) you know it when you’ve attained good Work/Life Balance, right? But how do you really know you’ve reached nirvana besides just “feeling good”??

I’ve always found it interesting when I’d ask a person about measuring their Work/Life Balance.  I’d ask, “How do you know you have great Work/Life Balance?”  Usually, the person would reply, “Well, I’m able to go home at 4pm and beat traffic!” or “I work-from-home on Fridays!” I get the tactical nature of these answers, but I always left wondering, “Shouldn’t it be more than what time you get home or where you’re working?”  I think so!

Taking time to create a more strategic (and more sustainable) measurement strategy is important if you want to create real Work/Life Balance on the job.  Here’s how I think you start to think about building this measurement plan.

Step 1 – Create your Work/Life Balance Nirvana:

  • Know what brings you energy. What type of work gets you out of bed in the morning? What type of team structure drives your impact? Knowing the answer to these simple questions can help guide you in the right direction so you’re working “in the zone” more often than not. Find more of this!
  • Identify your pitfalls. Knowing where you struggle is also super important. If you know you get overwhelmed working across multiple time zones or you can’t say “no” to save your life – it’s good to know these things in advance. Writing them down and having the list at your desk could work for you (it does for me). Find less of this!
  • Outline your perfect day. This is a cool exercise and I found it super valuable. Write down how you want your day to go – from start to finish. You’ll know where you’re currently doing well and where you might need a little more help balancing your priorities.
  • Figure-out the rough times of year. Life gets crazy sometimes and Work/Life Balance gets out of whack. I think it’s important to know this in advance – this can help you feel less insane when the crazy time approaches and also lets your brain know there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Q4 crazy?? Write this down and plan for it.
  • Get your support system in place. Find a person or two who can be your advocate (and hold you accountable). I’ve found that too many people (myself included) try to tackle Work/Life Balance all on their own – don’t do this! Find someone who you can talk to, get feedback from, and possibly learn from as well!
  • Bring in the fun! Have a plan for fun. Create ways you want to celebrate success along the way. Dinner out? Extra Soul-Cycle class? Manhattan with extra cherries (my favorite)?? Whatever works for you!

Once you identify your Nirvana, it’s time to think about how you’re going to measure success. Again, I’ve found it’s important to start with your strategy around Work/Life Balance (see bullets above) and then figure out how you’re going to measure.

Step 2 – Measuring Work/Life Balance Nirvana:

  • Create a Work/Life Balance Diary. This is important. In the morning, write down goals for the day and how you’re looking to achieve those results. Also note any stress/concerns you might have – I’ve found just writing this stuff down can really help. Then, in the evening, revisit and see how you did. Notice any trends, roadblocks, etc
  • Make Outlook (or whatever you use) your friend. From my newsletter last week, you know I’m a huge fan of calendars. Keep a tight schedule to make sure you’re staying on track. Block out time in your calendar to head home, go to Barry’s Bootcamp or take time for lunch.  You’ll thank me later!
  • Check-in regularly with your support network. However you want to communicate, I think it’s important to bring-in your support person(s) and let them know how you’re doing. Get feedback and advice too! They are there to help, so use them as you continue down this path of Nirvana!
  • Do weekly “gut checks” and quarterly reviews. Spend 20 mins at the end of each week on your strategy as well as how you’re measuring success. Notice trends. See where you get stuck. Make changes as necessary … this is not set-in-stone. Then, each quarter, do a longer review of your approach, pitfalls, successes, etc – a bigger modification might be needed as you move from one quarter to another!
  • Monitor your job performance. Better Work/Life Balance should mean better performance on the job (in my opinion) – so monitor this as well. Are you getting good feedback? Working on hot projects? See that promotion on the horizon? You should!
  • Watch your checkbook. See how you’re spending your money.  You might be spending more money eating out and/or celebrating your success.  That’s great! Your bank account should start to reflect the new (more fun) you if that’s what you want!

Your homework this week: Start with creating your Work/Life Balance Nirvana!  Check out the six bullets above and create your plan of action. This might take a while to fully outline and that’s ok – this is an important topic and it takes time. Know that the strategy doesn’t need to be perfect … just good enough to start to get you thinking differently about Work/Life Balance.

Coming-up next week:  Some cultures don’t appreciate (or even talk about) Work/Life Balance. I can think of a few here in Seattle.  How to create (and sustain) Work/Life Balance in these kinds of organizations can be tough (and in some cases impossible). I’ll write back strategies for success when your group might be asking, “So what’s Work/Life Balance??”

Here’s to your Engaged Pursuit!

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