Work/life balance is a perennial issue in my coaching practice. Virtually all of my clients at some point complain about the lack of time they have to do what they need to do at home. This is especially true for my clients who are working parents.
However, the issue has taken on a new urgency of late across the interwebs, most recently in this article that I went wild for this week on my Facebook page, because of the pressure many of us are feeling to “lean in.”
To be candid, I am not a fan of what “leaning in” has done for many of my clients, especially women.
Why? Because the pressure to “lean in” actually causes us more stress, more heartache and gives us more to do in lives that are already on call 24/7.
I’d rather see corporate America start developing ways that we all can work smarter, rather than MORE.
But given that my efforts to change the world continue and haven’t quite hit their peak just yet, today I’m offering you a few coping strategies for managing your home life when you’re overwhelmed at work. Here they are.
1) Outsource what you can.
I can’t tell you how many clients come into my coaching practice complaining about having to scrub the toilet, do the laundry and iron their shirts when they’re already tight on time and would rather be hanging out with their kids or significant other.
As a result, I am a big fan of outsourcing. The great news is that for relatively little money, it’s pretty easy these days to hire someone to clean your house a few times a month, ship out your laundry to the local wash and fold, and even hire a private chef a few nights a week.
If you are overwhelmed and don’t have enough time for what really matters to you, outsource whatever menial tasks you can.
2) Use technology to ease your life.
Got a grocery delivery service such as FreshDirect in your area? Order your groceries online on your lunch hour and save yourself the trip to the store. Need diapers for the kids? If you’re not a subscribing member to diapers.com (and also have it linked to your UPromise account so you’re contributing to college savings with every single pack), you’re missing out on one of the great inventions of our lifetime for parents.
Do yourself a favor and creatively explore the ways in which technology might aid your work/life balance. For every service you might think you need to perform in person, there is likely an online equivalent that will ease your life.
3) Menu plan.
Now, I know this might sound a little 1950s housewife for some of you, but trust me, it makes a world of difference to sit down on a Saturday and plan out your family’s meals for the week, and then shop for what you need. It also allows you to allocate the cooking burden among members of your family.
And make sure you’re giving yourself a break as needed. I have clients who have a regular sushi night, pizza night or leftovers night every week to ease the burden on the primary cook in the household.
4) Make chores a weekly task, and involve the entire family.
We are just now starting to do this in my household, as inspired by the way my family did things way back in the 1970s when I was growing up. Here’s how it works.
Every Saturday morning, every family member does assigned chores mid-morning. This includes weekly tasks like taking the garbage out of your own room, changing the sheets, and even basic dusting.
Little kids can even help with this– our daughter is a huge helper when it comes to cleaning up, as we’ve made it a game and she loves it. Putting away her stuffed animals gives her great joy.
By making it a family event, no one person has to bear the burden of the mundane weekly chores alone.
5) Get yourself and your household on a regular schedule.
In my coaching practice, I work with virtually every client to get them on a regular weekly schedule that they stick to as much as humanly possible.
Creating a calendar for every week is critically important to managing your life and your time. The key, however, is to prioritize what matters to you most in your work/life balance.
Want to workout every day? Put it on your calendar. Want a date night with your partner? Put it on your calendar. These are non-negotiable appointments you are making with yourself, and you must protect your boundaries around these appointments just like you would your kids’ school conferences or a doctor’s appointment.
Why is this so important? Because if it’s not scheduled, it’s not real. Your work/life balance– and indeed, your commitment to what matters to you most– depend on it.
If you’re not operating on a schedule, sit down and create one right now. Recognize that it might take tweaking over time, but you need a basic framework or you’re risking overwhelm at every turn.
With these simple tips, even when you’re overwhelmed at work, your home life will be preserved and your time will be more your own.
Now it’s your turn: in the comments below, tell me your best strategies for handling work/life balance. I’d love to hear from you!
Wishing you a week full of what you most want in life, wherever you may find it.
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