Balance as a leader has two elements. There is a work-life balance. This is the balance of the time we spend working and the time we spend with loved ones or doing other things that we enjoy. We also need to look for balance within the work that we do. For me, this is much more about your energy levels. If we are working out with our natural preferences, that depletes our energy and we are likely to feel grumpy, stressed and exhausted. Finding a balance of the type of work that you prefer will build your energy back up.
In this blog, I’ll discuss what it means to prioritise work-life balance as a leader and finding the right balance in 2021.
Prioritise Work-Life Balance to Avoid Burnout
If you’re not getting enough rest and space, it can lead to burnout. There are several stages to burnout. Healthline has a great guide to the signs of burnout and the 12 stages. Stage 5 is “no time for nonwork-related activities”, which further supports the need for finding the right balance. It’s worth sharing the 12 stages of burnout – see below. Burnout can have long-term emotional, mental and physical effects.
We don’t have time to do everything. Many people find it difficult to say, “No,” but finding a balance also means learning what you’re comfortable with. You can say, “I can’t help you right now, but I’ll be able to next week” or “I am too busy to help you with that but here are some resources that could help”. If you often get the same sort of requests, it could be an opportunity to draft an email template that answers that question. You can then send it out whenever anyone asks.
As leaders, we should be mindful that our team members might be experiencing similar struggles in finding the right balance. They are also in danger of burnout if it’s not addressed early on. Look out for signs of burnout both in yourself and in your team.
Giving space to be vulnerable, setting realistic expectations and allowing people to work flexibly could go a long way in finding balance.
Talk to your team about how you can support them and do your best to be flexible where you can. Showing empathy and emotional intelligence is key to helping you find balance.
Also be aware of your own behaviours and the impact they have. No matter what you may say to your team, if you are sending emails to them at 10pm they may feel that they should respond right away. Have an open conversation with your team about expectations. E.g. “I know I sometimes send emails late at night – that’s because it works for me to spend time with my kids earlier in the day and finish off work later, but I want you to know that I don’t expect a response outside your own working hours”.
Work-Life Balance and Working from Home
Working from home brings a new set of challenges for work-life balance. The lines could become blurred, particularly, how you make a distinction between your work life and home life.
Rolling out of bed in the morning and powering up your laptop on the kitchen table every day is certainly not healthy. Here are some top tips for finding balance when you work from home.
3 Tips for working from home:
1. Get some air
Congrats, you’ve escaped the commute! But it doesn’t mean that you need to be cooped up inside. You could go for a walk around the block between bursts of work. This could help you make a distinction between home life and going to work.
2. Have a Dedicated Work Area (if you can)
Setting aside an area at home for work can help segregate work at home. If you are not able to have one place to work, try switching off your laptop and putting away any work papers at the end of the day. This will reduce the tendency to keep working after hours.
3. Keep Distractions to a Minimum
One of the reasons that work can run on when you work from home is due to distractions. You might live on a busy road or perhaps, the washing machine is on. Try to focus your attention on each task and plan for short breaks (see Point 1). Set rules with your partner and children so that they know when you can be interrupted. This could help you find some balance while you work at home.
If you’d like to find out more about how I can help you develop further as a leader, get in touch on 07980 838945 or email me at email@example.com.
Also, our Heart-Centred Leaders Community is an opportunity to develop with like-minded leaders – find out more here.