Work-life balance is an elusive goal for many entrepreneurs and professionals. But while the pursuit might seem impossible, the results are well worth it.
We asked members of Forbes Coaches Council what the best ways are to go about finding this hard-to-reach balance. While their answers differ, they agree that drawing the line between the two is as simple as turning off your phone.
1. Set A No-Email Zone
One of the most successful habits I developed is setting a no-email zone during my time to focus on being with family and friends. In our “always-on” digital society, it’s easy to be distracted by your work emails after working hours. Set firm and respectful boundaries on when you will be available. If necessary, publish an out-of-office reply to establish expectations about your response time. – Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC
2. Stop Responding During Non-Work Hours
When your boss or clients hear from you during non-work hours, they get used to having you on call 24/7. Your responsiveness teaches them that you are always working. Resist the urge to respond during non-work hours—or at least delay your response—so you can retrain your colleagues about what they can expect from you. Explain that disconnecting during non-work hours helps you get re-energized. – Stacey Staaterman, Stacey Staaterman Coaching & Consulting
3. Learn To Say No
When you’re at work, be fully present and say “no” to personal distractions. Schedule transition time at the beginning of each day to create a to-do list, and at the end of the day to review the list. After work hours, make sure to say no to business requests to allow for proper boundaries. Keep exceptions limited to urgent matters. – Dave Fechtman, Velocity Advisory Group
4. Schedule Your Private Life
If you have nothing planned, it’s easy to get sucked back into work, so make sure you schedule time with your partner and your children. I know that might seem odd, but when the time is booked, it’s easier to say no. Also, if you share the commitments with your partner and children, you are more likely to hold yourself accountable. Leave the phone at home. No one is indispensable. If you have no phone, you can’t get sucked back in. It’s a choice! – Gordon Tredgold, Leadership Principles LLC
5. Ask Your Family To Suggest Boundaries
Ask your family to set expectations. It may allow you to create the boundary lines easier. When I consulted with my family for ideas in this area, it helped in a number of ways. For example, my guilt about staying late at work lessened. They were OK with me staying late if it meant I didn’t go straight to my email inbox when I got home. They helped me turn off and reminded to relax and detox. Family first. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
6. Get Clear On Your Values
Your values are present when you’re feeling happiest. Take time to reflect on your top five to six values at least once a year if not quarterly. Then ensure all of your personal and professional activities align with those values. This approach allows you to make decisions more easily about boundaries for your life at the moment. You’ll feel empowered because you’re in control and your life is flowing. – Rosie Guagliardo, InnerBrilliance Coaching
7. Try Guided Journaling
Changing the boundaries between your work life and family life takes time. Making these changes also requires self-reflection to gain the awareness of what your actions are that keep you from being balanced. Guided journaling can help with both the ability to increase self-reflection and become aware of your current behaviors. After personally going through this process three times and recommending it to clients, I see the changes it can create. – Cindy Stack, Whole-Life Leader
8. Go Home And Stay Home
I used to work 24/7, and I’d tell myself that I was working hard for my family. The thing is, I would never see my family. So I started adding a hard stop in my workday. This meant that by 6 p.m., I had to leave work and go home and show up for my family. I can always wake up earlier the next day to get a head start, but when it’s quitting time, I quit. – Ryan Stewman, Hardcore Closer LLC
9. Schedule And Honor Time For Both
We often schedule time for work and seldom schedule our own time. We often overlook and don’t honor the time away from work by working longer hours, answering calls and emails at all hours of the day. When you have family time scheduled, stay focused on your family. Same for work: Make sure your family knows your work schedule and your scheduled family time. They may help keep you accountable. – Kat Lessin, Life by My Design