Running a company or even just a department in a company is a massive job. As an executive, you could easily fill all of your time with work and still feel like there’s plenty of stuff left to do, but that’s not a sustainable way to live. You need time with family, time for hobbies, and time to relax.
The average full-time employee in 2014 worked 8.57 hours on a weekday, compared to 8.46 hours in 2003. As an executive, you may be jealous of both numbers, but the point is that the time commitment associated with work appears to be going up, not down. So, what’s an executive to do? In an age where work is overtaking life, how do you strike the ideal balance?
How Do You Work Best?
Everyone is different, and so are their life circumstances. Part of the work-life balance is deciding how you work best. Richard Branson of Virgin Mobile doesn’t have a rigid work schedule, but he uses scheduling tools like phone calendars and email reminders to get his work in. When he has a few minutes, he’ll talk to his wife and family.
Or you could take more of a Sheryl Sandberg approach. She’s the COO of Facebook, and her strategy is to do a rigid 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. workday every day. Then she goes home to have dinner with her family and spend some time with them. After the kids go to bed, she spends a few more hours working.
Of course, these are small consolations if you find yourself buried under 80 hours per week of work. There’s simply no room to adjust your schedule if work takes up all of your time. If you’re having trouble maintaining flexibility in your work schedule, then maybe it’s time to take matters out of your own hands and put them into someone else’s.
Outsourcing, Hiring, and Delegating
When you’re overwhelmed by more work than you can realistically handle, the answer isn’t to spend even more of your own time working. At some point, you’ll face burnout and everything will fall apart. Instead, you should look into finding help.
One idea is to use an employee or freelancer to take on the more tedious tasks in your business. Not only do you not have the time, but it’s also a waste of your talent to spend time transcribing audio recordings, posting on social media sites, or managing a spreadsheet. If your business isn’t at the stage where you feel comfortable hiring a full-time employee, you can look into getting an intern, a part-time employee, or a freelancer.
The important thing is focusing on what you’re good at, and farming out the rest to people who are more knowledgeable and efficient at everything else. Eventually, well-trained employees and freelancers can autonomously handle the tasks you used to worry about, and you can start to reclaim your personal life and even take a vacation without the gnawing concern that everything is falling apart without you.
Make it a Priority
What it all boils down to is deciding what your priority is. If you allow work to be the priority, you’re unlikely to run into a magical day when there’s time left over for a personal or family life. If you want to have the life half of “work-life balance,” step one may involve putting personal time on your schedule, whether that’s a romantic getaway with your spouse, a game night with the kids, or a staycation just for you.
There’s no such thing as a perfect balance, but by making a small and consistent effort to carve out a personal life in the midst of your busy work schedule, you’ll get closer to the balance you want.