The pressures and demands of work for senior managers and executives can be daunting in the requirements of time, energy, and obligation – and those very pressures will inevitably lead to reduced effectiveness that can compound health-related issues if not properly managed. The answer to these heavy demands lies in the importance of creating work-life balance.
A healthy work-life balance is essential to many of the most important aspects of a person’s life… physical health, emotional health, commitment to family and relationships, involvement in community and, ultimately, effectiveness on the job. Stress may be a reality of life but excessive unremitting stress will lead to diminished health and job performance. Worst-case scenarios of all-consuming job pressures can include reduced efficiency, stress leave, collapse of family, and even substance abuse and job loss.
Various factors contribute to stress and lack of work-life balance; the proliferation of technology and its uses (cell phones and the Internet, to name a few), an unceasing 24/7 timetable, demands for profit and market share, accountability, and more… it all adds up. It’s unceasing – and yet finding balance is imperative to all the benefits of having a well-rounded life. Senior managers can’t afford the risks associated with losing control. How then does one effectively manage work and all the other aspects of life? The answers lie in the very concept of balance, with methods that include…
Define priorities: Senior managers understand the need to prioritize. The all-important step of defining priorities is critical to your well-being and success. Reschedule lesser priorities. Get rid of those that can be delegated. Focusing your mind on the right priorities will clarify your thinking and improve your energy. Our experience of life is determined by what we pay attention to. This has been researched and makes practical sense. So define your priorities – give your attention and time to the things that are important.
One exercise I use in executive coaching uses simple index cards. As the client and I talk through an issue, problem or opportunity, I write topics on individual index cards. Then we agree that the topics are the elements of the situation. From there the client evaluates and expands on his element. Then we choose which elements (cards) matter now. Action is planned based on those important elements. Give it a try. It’s a very simple method to clarify your thoughts and identify your priorities.
Schedule tenaciously: It may come as a surprise to some people that rest and recreation can be scheduled just as effectively as the tasks at work. Limit yourself to one day timer and use it for both work and home life. Consider reviewing the day’s plan – including for family and personal matters – at the start of each day. You may find yourself getting enjoyment out of planning the time you’ll spend with loved ones or for an evening’s entertainment.
Monitor time: Time allotment must be measured against your priorities and schedule. You can’t afford to be lax in time-management, though some items on your busy schedule may require more-or-less allocated time. Monitor your time like money in the bank!
One way I sometimes do that is to “Grade” my day. I monitor my time allotment; and at the end of each day I give myself a Grade – A, B, C or Fail. (Now that I’m more familiar with growth mindset principles I change Fail to Not Yet. See Carol Dweck https://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve).
Create boundaries: This can mean knowing how to say “no.” You as a senior manager understand that you can’t do everything and that you can’t be everything to everybody. This is why you have staff. Creating boundaries will apply as much to home as it does to work. If you’re going to spend time with your spouse and children, learn to say no to other invitations and attractions.
Invest in your health: Don’t ever think that your health can wait. Once you lose your health, all other things will spin out of control. Health is a priority. It leads to longevity, vitality, strength and happiness. Take care of your health through diet, exercise, appropriate rest, and stress management and never put it on the backburner.
Focus on family and relations: Whatever the uniqueness of your life and your circumstances, if you find yourself closing off from family and friends you may just find yourself on the wrong path. It’s a sure indication that things are out of balance. Keep family and friends as a priority, remembering that they need nurturing and attention, as well. It’s good for all involved!
Make time for yourself: We are to some degree designed as autonomous creatures. Between all the commitments of family and business, you’ll need to take time out to nurture your well-being. Find a way to shut out the world, even if only for a fraction of the day, so than you can rejuvenate yourself.
Get the help you need: Whether through personal coaching, counselling, diet management, or whatever, don’t be too proud to think you can “tough out” problems or handle personal challenges all on your own. Your role as a senior manager means having the smarts to find the resources you need to manage aspects of personal life, health, and business.
The importance of having a healthy work-life balance cannot be sufficiently stressed. Job effectiveness, enjoyment, fulfillment, and health are all part of a well-rounded life. Much of what’s involved in finding that balance basically requires the need to establish boundaries while knowing how to apply your available options as you “create” this new life for yourself. Ultimately, you’ll be so very glad you did!
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