As female entrepreneurs or women in leadership roles, we live in fear that if we don’t get it all done in a day, we will fail. Fail as a business owner, employee, wife, mother or friend. And to stop that feeling we quickly throw together a work-life balance plan.
Be honest, how many times have you tried to create a work-life balance plan only to have it fall apart weeks later? It falls apart because work-life balance plans do not work. To bring harmony to your professional and personal life, you need to embrace work-life integration.
Here are three key components to having a successful work-life integration plan.
You need to create your own definition of work-life integration. Work-life integration is a moving target that must be adapted to one’s own personal lifestyle. For it to work, you need to have a clear understanding of what your needs are at work and home. You must figure out how much time you really need to spend tending to your business and how much time you need to spend outside of work.
Analyzing your present situation is the second step in implementing a successful work-life integration plan. You need to take a critical look at your work and home situation and devise a plan to bring harmony into your life.
- Track your time – Keep a time log of everything you do for one week, including work-related and personal activities. This will help you see when you are using your time wisely as well as highlight areas where you are wasting time. Once you understand what activities are weighing you down, you can readjust or get rid of them. You may find that many of the tasks you do each day are redundant.
- Set Priorities – Before you start work today, ask yourself, “If I could only focus on one thing today, what would it be?” That answer is your top priority. What would you focus on second? Third? Fourth? Fifth? You’ve now identified your top five priorities. Keep the number of priorities to a limited, realistic number so you don’t get overwhelmed. Start and finish the first priority before starting the second and so on. Don’t try to multi-task, as it really is impossible to focus on more than one thing at a time. Focus only on the task at hand.
- Establish Goals – Having clear goals makes life so much easier because you know where you are going, how to get there and you have more control. Without clear goals you can experience feelings of confusion and frustration and this can drain your energy and decrease your productivity.
- Schedule Your Time – Combine your work and personal calendars so that you have a complete picture of your day. Combined calendars prevent you from over-booking yourself. Over-booking may cause you to work longer which can negatively impact your personal time. Put aside an hour on your schedule each day to read a book, take a walk, or just to be alone.
- Health/Fitness – Find time to ride a bike, take a walk or go to the gym. You are most likely on the go most of the day, so be sure to keep healthy snacks with you. When you can, incorporate lots of fruit, vegetables and protein into your meal plans. Also, make sure you are getting the proper amount of sleep each night. A regular sleep pattern keeps your body functioning properly.
- Boundaries – Work-life integration means blending your personal and professional life so that you are whole. But it is still important that you set some boundaries so that work does not become all consuming. Set aside time for yourself, family or friends where you don’t let work seep in.
- Ask for Help – Don’t be afraid to ask. You are not expected to know everything about running a business. Read, research and learn as much as you can to help you build confidence in your type of business and how to run it. Also, delegate when and wherever you can. Delegating lets you focus on big picture items.
Make no mistake about it, you cannot meet your work-life integration goals, if you don’t hold yourself accountable. The reason is simple. It’s your life and you are in charge of it. When you are held accountable to your goals, you improve your commitment, focus, follow-through, and productivity.