Many business leaders struggle with the transition between work and home.
In many cases, the same high powered skills that help them navigate endless demands during working hours are the same ones that keep them from being fully present for their family at the end of the day.
A coaching client bravely shared his own struggles and explained “ I want to spend time with them but I feel like my mind is still at work. My wife and kids say they understand but I feel like I am an outsider who just drops in for a few hours before bed.”
He isn’t the only one. Work life balance, a term used to describe the net effect of how we work on how we live, has long been climbing the ranks of important workplace issues. A September 2021 survey of over 3000 Canadians, found that 31% of respondents felt that work life balance played a bigger role than salary when it came to job satisfaction. This increased to 39% for those working from home.
While many will debate that work life balance is a myth, there are effective methods one can use to improve the transition between work and home and protect the time spent with their loved ones.
Here are just a few to get you started:
- 1. Have an exit strategy
At the end of your day, take time to wrap up the day’s efforts and review your goals for the next day. Even if it takes a bit of extra time, do what you need to feel prepared and/or put your mind at ease. I typically encourage my clients to start this process 2 hours before they leave so if there is something they hadn’t thought about, they will have time to address it without having to stay late.
- 2. Be efficient with your time
This habit can take a bit of time to set but can be invaluable to those with a full plate. To start, imagine you ONLY have your working hours to get everything done.Then look for places you can eliminate a drain on your time. Too much chatting, shut your door. Getting lost on social media, leave your phone in your car and check it at pre-assigned times. Reclaiming just 12 minutes per day adds an additional hour to your work week – essentially another day to your month.Once you have reclaimed time, make efficiency the next focus. What can you delegate to your team? What is not yours to be working on in the first place? Offload with a vengeance!Once you feel you have maximized your time efficiently, you may still need more time (such is life in business, right?). You can do this by heading into work 30 mins early or assigning one evening a week when you get to stay late.
- 3. Give your body time to decompress
If you commute for work, make your commute home as fun as possible. Listen to the music you love or a podcast you enjoy. Something that makes you smile versus something that makes you think (save the deep thinking for the morning commute.) Practice mindful breathing with slow deep breaths in and long smooth breaths out. Mindful breathing encourages your body to relax and release muscle tension while triggering the breakdown of the stress hormones built up throughout your day. As you near your home, start asking yourself questions you’d like to know about your family’s day. Did your spouse resolve that issue she had yesterday? How did your daughter do on her math test this morning? Priming your curiosity helps train your brain to stay present and engaged during evening check ins with loved ones.
- 4. Have a completion ritual
A completion ritual is one that signifies the end of a task. These can be thoughts or actions that let your brain know your focus has changed. These can be entertaining or mundane, but they have to be constantly performed to be effective. Some client favorites are:
- Locking up. The act of locking up, performing a final check and turning out the lights can be enough to let your brain know the work day is over. If you leave before others please only do this for your own space!
- I have one client who writes herself a note before she leaves for the day. She lists her tasks for the next day and 2 things she was happy with that day. Then she writes: YOU ARE DONE NOW. IT’S TIME TO GO HOME! Simple but very effective. As a Mom and a top level executive she started the year having a tough time keeping all the “balls in the air” as she put it. Now she wraps up her days at 5pm and enjoys her evening with her husband and children without feeling pulled away.
- 5. Talk to your family
Once you have found a strategy that works for you, talk to your family. Let them know how important they are to you and ask them to help hold you accountable but pointing out the times you slip up. These conversations let them know you care, and help remind them how much they matter and further protect your loving connection.
Providing for your family doesn’t require sacrificing your time with them. With a few intentional and consistent steps you can optimize your performance at work and enjoy a more present and authentic connection with those you love the most!
Do you have transition rituals that help you stay present for family time? Share them with us at www.facebook.com/levelup. For more tips on how to overcome the struggles business leaders face subscribe to The Leaders Playbook, our weekly guide for execs looking to stay on top!