There’s no real hourly formula for life/work balance. There are “experts” who will give you algebraic equations on how to spend your time. We can get the formula and use it to have non-work time, but if we spend our discretionary time obsessing about what to do with that time, or worrying that we’re not making the best use of each second, or not fitting the balanced time equation, our minds will just spin until we have to get back to work and we’ve wasted that time. Having life balance is feeling in balance and developing that state of mind no matterwhere we are.
We still need to have inner balance that we carry with us throughout the day. We need ways to decompress at work when our minds get too crowded and ways to decompress when we stop working.
Here are examples of three organizations that support life/work balance integration. They have all been recognized as great places to work by their own employees.
• Employees at EBay have prayer and meditation rooms that they can use during the day.
I can think of places I’ve worked in the past that could have used those rooms. I once sold aluminum siding on the telephone. If I had meditated before I got on the phone, I would have been calmer when people yelled at me for calling. I wouldn’t have felt the need to hang up on them before they hung up on me and I wouldn’t have spent most of my time at work complaining. Although selling aluminum siding by phone had it’s own challenges.
Often, just taking a few minutes out can restore us to sanity, and revitalize our creativity. It’s hard to remember to do that when we’re in the middle of a project, and our brains are spinning.
• The Chesapeake Energy Corp. provides instructors at their on-site Olympic size pool who give lessons in scuba diving to employees.
I don’t know what perks they have for employees who are aqua phobic but since I love swimming I’d be very happy to suit up and join them.
• SAS Institute has on-site childcare, telecommuting and job sharing.
I hope they don’t allow parents to talk on their cell phones when they visit their children during breaks. When my son was in pre-school there was a “very important consultant” who always dropped his son off and picked him up while talking on his cell phone and “closing important deals.” His son would be jumping up and down to get his attention, but was told to be quiet while “daddy was on the phone.” The dad once told me that he loved spending quality time with his son driving to and from pre-school. Hmmm
Of course,the key to these benefits is to use them. It doesn’t help if you think you’re too busy, and would rather wear a badge of burnout. Culture starts at the time with executive management, and is driven down through the organization. If you are a CEO or senior executive you have to take the time and set an example. Your employees won’t take time for themselves if they see that you don’t. Everyone has to be clear that it is in his or her economic, emotional and physical interest to strive for inner balance and life/work integration.
In these stressful and uncertain economic times, self-care is more important than ever.Since the situation of the moment is what it is at that moment, and that moment will not change, you can choose how you want to react. You can stress and be less focused, less productive, and be a drain on everyone or you can swim, meditate, or do something else you enjoy and become more creative, focused and fun to be around.
Simma Lieberman Associates
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