Don’t wait for your business to help you balance work and private life

By: Kelly Nolan

Almost everyone I know wants better work-life balance and help on the time management front. But often we are slow to take action to improve our time management methods to wait for our companies to take the lead, such as recruiting more support or setting limits around meetings. Also, we often don’t try a new strategy because we’re too nervous about how it will play out with our teammates.

Let’s take a look at why you shouldn’t wait for your business to improve your work-life balance, and how (and if) discuss the improvements you’re making with your team.

[Related: How to Get to the Core of Your Work Stress]

The advantages of working individually on time management.

When entire businesses try to tackle time management, they often go too far. They try Fridays without a meeting or block out three hours a day for meetings, trying to shield the rest for focused work. But these efforts often falter over time. Why?

Two main reasons.

First, for time management strategies like protecting targeted working time at work, they need to be aligned with an individual’s energy and preferences. For example, some people perform better in the mornings and prefer to reserve that time for concentrated work, saving meetings for their less energy-consuming afternoons. Others prefer to use their cooler energy for presentations. Still others hit their stride in the afternoon after sorting out the morning work lights.

People have different energy patterns and preferences for how they want to use their energy. Dull company-wide policies of “no XY AM meetings” cannot satisfy everyone and, therefore, tend to fail over time because they do not produce results.

On the other hand, when you individually analyze your energy patterns and think about when you want to do focused work, you can create a schedule that works for you. you. And that is more likely to help you work more easily in flow and last.

The second reason that enterprise-wide time management policies often wear out over time is that they are not flexible. If, for example, a No Meeting on Friday policy needs to be changed due to the needs of an important customer, it is difficult to easily move that targeted time to another day. If this happens too often, people start to ignore the policy.

On the other hand, when you individually own your tune-up time, you are able to account for important exceptions to your tune-up window (for example, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Friday) and find a new time that works for you without too much hassle (eg 10 am-12pm on Thursdays). Because all you have to do is keep your schedule in mind, you can stay nimble.

In short, when we do this work individually, we can find solutions tailored to our personal preferences and remain agile. All of this leads to more effective policies, the results we want, and long term success.

Manage team buy-in when implementing individual time management strategies.

Okay, you say, I’m going to go it alone, but what do I tell my boss when I block my concentration time?

First of all I would ask you, do you need to tell them?

I understand the tendency to put them in the loop. It can seem oddly forgiving to block out time for focused work. But let’s take a step back and really look at what you are doing: you are blocking the time to bring your best creative and smart strategy for the benefit of your clients / business / patients.

You are not playing hooky. You work legitimately – and often more profitably than you would in meetings / email replies. You are an adult who tries to do her job well; there is no reason to feel guilty.

Considering that, does spending focused time with your team make this difficult? Have you been to hour-long meetings that made you unavailable? In these scenarios, did you make an important announcement before entering the meeting? Probably not. Why would it be any different?

Moreover, you can experiment. Try out your new strategy without any announcements to your team for two weeks. If it’s too difficult without buckling them, then you can reassess and have a discussion with them.

[Related: The Hazards of Overworking During the Pandemic]

How to have a chat with your boss / teammates if you decide to do so.

If you decide you need to let your boss or team know what you’re doing, first clarify why you’re trying this strategy, explain it, and then reiterate why it’s in the best interest of the business.

For example, regarding concentrated time, you could say:

I want to make sure I bring my best work to my clients / projects, and I find it hard to get it in the nooks and crannies between meetings. I would like to protect four hours a week that I am not attending meetings or responding to emails so that I can focus, which I will use for [give some examples]. I offer XYZ schedules, and I will stay flexible with them as our team’s schedule is moving as long as I can find other windows of working hours for this focused job. This will allow me to better meet deadlines and bring my smart and creative A-game to the table. Do you see any problems?

While it might seem scary to do this, I have found that my clients’ businesses are more receptive than you might expect to respond to requests that help you better. to arrive in your role.

A final word of encouragement.

Taking control of your time can change your life. Finding strategies that match your energy, preferences, and industry can be huge in helping work feel easier, more enjoyable, and less time consuming so you can be more present at home with your family and friends. friends.

That’s not to say that companies shouldn’t strive to improve the work-life balance of employees. It’s just a nudge to encourage you not to wait for them to take the lead. Your time is too precious to wait for someone else to give you control. Plus, you will likely be more successful doing it on your own so that you can tailor these strategies to you and stay agile. The results are worth it.

[Related: The Pandemic Helped Us See Employees in Real Life. Let’s Take What We Learned and Build on It.]

Kelly nolan is a time management strategist turned lawyer. Using her realistic time management method, she helps professionally working women manage their work, personal and family tasks with less stress and calmer clarity. Connect with her at

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