5 Ways to Up Your Work-Life Balance Game
Dean Ku M.A. '09
If you’re having a hard time balancing work and life, you’re not alone. According to the American Sociological Review, 70 percent of American workers struggle with work-life balance. If you live in a major metropolitan area like the San Francisco Bay Area, the added stress of terrible traffic, the high cost of living, and a fast-paced job can make the challenge even more intense and potentially soul crushing.
So what can you do to improve your work-life balance?
1. Define Success for Yourself
In this age of social media—LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, plus many others—you don’t have to look very hard before you find people you know with fancier job titles, nicer vacations, and bigger houses. Don’t get caught up with what others are doing. Start defining success for yourself. Invest the time to clear your mind and to prioritize what is most important for you to be happy in life. For example, your goal might be reaching VP level by the time you are 40 or maybe it’s being home every night to have dinner with your family.
2. Make Deliberate Choices for What You Want
There are only 24 hours in a day. You have to make time for what is most important, so you can’t shy away from making hard choices. Work-life balance will not fall into your lap. You have to make it happen by deliberately eliminating activities that sap your energy and by clearing commitments that don’t make it on your priorities list. Doing less doesn’t mean you’re missing out. It means you will have more energy to be present and engaged in your priorities.
3. Communicate What Is Working and What Is Not
Work-life balance is not something you achieve and then put into cruise control. It’s a moving target that requires constant attention and rebalancing. Communication is key—especially if you have a partner or family. Things are constantly changing in life, and you have to make adjustments to coordinate time and activities with the important people in your life.
4. Outsource, When Possible
Prioritize activities that are the most meaningful and outsource the rest. There are so many on-demand services these days, and it’s easy to pick the ones that make the most impact. Perhaps it’s house cleaning or getting meals delivered to your home (check out Munchery, Doordash, Marley Spoon) or shopping (Google Express for Costco orders, Good Eggs for groceries, and of course Amazon for everything else). You can reclaim precious hours of your time and preserve vital energy that can be redirected toward family time or passion projects.
5. Build a Strong Support Network
You can’t do this alone. Invest in relationships with your family, neighbors, friends, and co-workers for mutual support and benefit. This can take a lot of effort, so start small. Make it a point to say “hi” and get to know neighbors that may be in a similar life stage and see how it goes. Building a strong relationship with your neighbors could score you a babysitter, carpool partner, and a new friend.
At the end of the day, finding the right work-life balance is never easy. But like any worthwhile endeavor, it requires clear goals, deliberate attention, and constant adjustments to make progress.
Interested in learning more about the topic of Work-Life Balance? Click here to view a recent SCU Alumni Association Panel Discussion: Work-Life Balance in the San Francisco Bay Area.