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Personal Development

The Working Woman’s Guide to Staying Sane: 10 Tried-and-True Tips for Finding Work-Life Balance

As individuals, we all strive for a work-life balance. Whether we're seeking guidance from an HR coach or looking to develop our leadership skills with the help of a leadership architect, finding the

How many of you have looked inward and said, “I am working too much and not spending enough time with my family,” or “I am not spending enough time working and spending too much time with my family?”  The likelihood of you saying the latter statement is low, but it could be something you say to yourself.  The point is that either way, if you feel like you are doing too much of something, your work-life balance is off, and maintaining a good work-life balance is critical to ensure you don’t burn out, but excel in your career while enjoying life.

Here are 10 strategies that can help in achieving that balance:

  1. **Set Clear Boundaries**: Clearly communicate your working hours to your colleagues and avoid responding to work-related communications outside these hours. This helps you mentally switch off work and focus on your personal life. Growing up, my mom, AKA Superwoman and my hero, was a single mom who worked her tail off so she could provide the essentials as well as the things that she didn’t have as a kid. Unfortunately, this meant she had to be at work…A LOT.  I hated it. I wanted her to be able to pick me up from school and do things with me during the day.  I know she feels guilty for not being able to do that, but she shouldn’t because it drove how I was going to operate as a working mother…I made a pact that I would not do that when I had kids.  And I am proud to say I never did.  I can count on one hand how many times someone other than me or my ex-husband picked our son up from school.  I was home with him every night.  Now, I might have had to bring work home from time to time, but I was there…physical presence and a smile from time to time when you are busy working away goes a long way and I know my son appreciated it.
  2. **Prioritize Tasks**: Make a to-do list and prioritize your tasks. Focus on high-priority tasks during your most productive hours. This will increase your efficiency and free up time for personal activities. This may sound obvious, like most of these strategies, but it’s good to hear the obvious from time to time so we don’t forget, because you know we forget! I usually try to get the task I like least done first so I can enjoy the rest of my day doing activities I enjoy.  This isn’t always possible, but it usually works out.
  3. **Schedule Personal Time**: Just as you schedule meetings and work commitments, schedule personal activities in your calendar. This includes time for hobbies, spending time with family, and self-care. These are very important people! Please do not forget about yourself and your needs, including your spouse, significant other, children, parents, and whoever else you have committed to spending time with regularly.  If you are anything like me, I am a planning fool!  I love to have a plan for everything, and that means everything!  I put all my activities, professional and personal, in my planner.  I might not get to everything I plan, but it’s always right in front of me, so at least I can’t say I forgot.
  4. **Learn to Say No**: You can’t do everything. Learn to say no to additional tasks you can’t take on without compromising your work-life balance. This is a notoriously difficult thing for women to do. I worked with an awesome woman a while back who had an amazing work ethic.  She was also extremely dedicated to her friends and family.  However, what this ended up concocting was a regularly frazzled, stressed-out woman always on the verge of burnout.  She was so concerned about making everyone happy around her that she wasn’t happy herself much more than she should have been or deserved.  As her supervisor, I was concerned for her health and mental well-being.  I ended up showing her the TEDTalk I posted on my home page that Sarah Knight gave on Not Giving a F@!k, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwRzjFQa_Og.  While this may sound funny, it was hysterical; it made perfect sense.  You only have so much time in life, so spend it doing things you don’t give a f@!k about!  Needless to say, the amazing woman loved it and acknowledged it made sense.  She did her best to say no more but struggled with this.  Everything balances itself out…she was sick all the time.  I guess her body had to force her to rest by getting sick.  Don’t be that person.
  5. **Leverage Technology**: Use technology to your advantage. Automate repetitive tasks, use productivity apps, and find tools that can make your work process more efficient. Enough can’t be said about this. I recently started a coaching business, and I am learning there’s so much to do, that it’s impossible for one person to get it all done.  That’s where technology comes in.  I am still learning how to use it, but I am setting up a CRM so I could automate sending emails out to my subscribers, if I had to do it myself, I would never sleep!
  6. **Delegate**: Understand that you don’t need to handle everything yourself. Delegate tasks whenever possible, both at work and at home. Ugh, people!! How many of you don’t delegate??!!  I learned this when I became a senior leader in the Air Force.  I only have so many hours in the day and need to eat, sleep, and all, so I had to figure out quickly what I could delegate and to whom.  This can be challenging if you don’t have anyone to delegate to or those you do have are incapable.  Well, do something about it!  Get rid of the dead weight or get them working.  If you must babysit a little at first, that’s ok. Give them a chance.  If it doesn’t work out, you have fodder to act.  Don’t slack on this, or you will end up like the awesome woman from #4…sick all the time or worse.
  7. **Focus on Your Health**: Ensure that you eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. A healthy body can lead to a more productive work-life and provide the energy needed for personal life. Yes, I know, another obvious one, but vital for success. I must admit, this is my weakest strategy, which is crazy as a former bodybuilder, emphasis on the word “former,” I got burnt out on it.  Anyway, I have no excuses other than no desire to exercise or sleep much!  I eat ok, but that could be better too.  I’ll tell you what, I will exercise at least two to three days a week to ensure you don’t have an excuse not to do it!  This is probably the most important of the strategies, so we ALL need to take it seriously; let’s commit to doing something immediately in this category of activities for ourselves, thanks.
  8. **Seek Support**: When overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek help from family, friends, or professionals. A strong support system can be invaluable. This is another strategy I could do better…If I admit my faults to you, I figure that will make you more likely to admit your own to yourself and help you turn things around. Is it working? I hope so!  Anyway, back to seeking support…it’s not easy being alone in the world, it isn’t natural for humans, so don’t be unnatural, ask for help and spend time with the important and the not-so-important people in your life, it makes things better, I promise.
  9. **Set Career Goals That Align with Your Personal Values**: Be sure that your career goals don’t conflict with your personal values. When your career is in alignment with what you truly value, it becomes easier to find satisfaction and balance. While this is obvious to most, some people set their career goals to match up to some idea someone has for them; I say someone because you don’t usually do this to yourself but allow a parent or someone else influential in your life to do this. For example, your family is full of doctors. Of course, you are expected to be one too, but you have no desire to be one.  However, since the pressure to conform is incredibly high, you head down the doctor’s path.  This is usually a disaster waiting to happen.  Don’t do this, people.  You are the one who has to live with your decisions, not anyone else, do what you want to do.  Enough said about that.
  10. **Regularly Reassess Your Work-Life Balance**: What worked six months ago might not work now. Periodically reassess how you are managing work and personal life, and adjust strategies as needed. This is a good one to end with…remember things change constantly; some say change is the only true constant in our lives. Just like it’s always good to try a food you didn’t like a year ago because you might like it now, it’s always good to reevaluate your situation to ensure you are taking care of yourself the best way possible.

In closing. remember that maintaining a work-life balance is an ongoing process. By implementing these strategies and staying adaptable, career-driven women can find the balance that allows them to thrive professionally and personally.  Oh, and don’t forget to have fun and enjoy yourself and your successes. You deserve it!

If you think a leadership coach would be helpful in your life, please contact me at nikki@nikkigianni.com or 805-265-3275 for a no-obligation, free strategy session to determine if we are a good fit or just have some questions. Thanks for reading. Have a fantastic day!

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Nikki Gianni

The Leadership Architect™, Leadership Coach Nikki Gianni, was born & raised in Queens, New York. She has lived all over the country, currently living in Southern California with her 19-year-old son. Nikki spent 25 years with the Department of Defense in acquisition as an active-duty member and a civil servant. She was an award-winning executive-level leader for over 15 years and transformed organizations from zeros to heroes in record time, resulting in outstanding retention and performance. Nikki became a leadership coach and mentor to share her love of leading and to support new leaders reach their full potential as quickly as possible by providing them with the knowledge, training, and coaching they need to perform successfully with the decisive confidence every great leader needs.