Staying Focused on Work-Life Balance

I don’t have to track my hours at work, but I do. If I suddenly see the hours creeping up, then I know that my work-life balance is out of order. Or, if I’m only working eight hours and I still feel overwhelmed, I take a look at all my extra activities, which includes volunteer work for several organizations. Sometimes, I simply have too many meetings after hours in the same week. If that’s the case, then that is not the week to schedule dinner with friends.

My need to balance is typical. A recent survey of more than 4,000 business executives conducted by Accenture found that work-life balance was the key factor for more than half of men and women in determining a successful career. It comes ahead of money, recognition and autonomy.

Tracking my hours each week is one way to keep my work-life balance in check. A few other tips include:

Scheduling time for projects: My calendar is filled with meetings. Also on the calendar are blocks of time dedicated to the major projects on which I’m working. If I don’t schedule those blocks of time, they quickly become filled with emails, invoices and people stopping by with other possible assignments. Scheduling time for projects keeps me focused on the critical items.

Just “Say No”: This one is tough for me, but on days when I have lots of meetings or time blocked for projects and someone asks me for five minutes, I ask if it can wait until a better time. Not only can I give the person my undivided attention at the later time, but I’m also able to stay on track.

Avoid Workplace Distractions: Sometimes it’s easy to become distracted by conversations. And when I don’t want to work on a project, I’m more likely to check emails or clean out file drawers. To avoid that, I’ll pop a CD into the computer or set the alarm on my phone for a set time. Then I work on the project for the length of the CD or until the alarm goes off. Even if I haven’t finished the project, I’ve at least made progress.