Today, we are talking about a work life balance and how holistic organizing can help you get closer to achieving it.
What is the importance of work life balance and how do I achieve it? Well, it is something that many people feel is impossible to achieve. I believe it is achievable, but I prefer the more accurate term of work-life integration, because I am not sure you ever truly achieve balance.
Work-life integration is really about determining how to balance work and life in a way that gives both equal amounts of attention. When you think about it most people work because they want to provide for their family, but if you work too much you neglect the very thing you are working hard for.
There has to be more of an integration of equal parts, so it looks more like work and life, work and family, life and family, etc. this way no side receives more attention than the other. In layman terms, today you divide your time as 20% self, 40% work and 40% life; tomorrow it's 60% work and 40% life and so on.
Holistic organizing is organizing based on you as a whole person, taking into consideration all contributing factors or dependent things. What most people do is they organized based on a particular area or thing. Take for example your calendar, a lot of people separate their work and personal calendars. Some even go as far as to have a work, personal and family calendar. The question I have for you is why?
How do you know your true availability if you don't consider your calendar as a whole? Think about it, you are one person that wears many hats, you are trying to segment your life into all these different buckets - work, personal, wife, mother, church, non-profit organization, etc. To separate them doesn't make sense. Although you wear these different hats, all of these areas need you.
A lot of times I find that women try to keep all of their business stuff separated in their work calendar and then they try to keep all of their family stuff separated over in another calendar and all the side organization stuff separated over in a folder.
The problem with that is you are still one person and you can only be one place at one time and so it's important for you to set up a system that accommodates and allows you to manage that reality. This allows you not only to know what you have going on, but where you are spending your time.
By understanding this holistic organizing concept of there is only one you, it is going to help you in your organizational journey and with your work life balance. When I'm working with clients, I often hear that they regularly double-booked themselves because they forgot an important meeting or a commitment. They then end up feeling guilty because they have to disappoint someone or try to do both and end up falling short of the mark, not giving 100% to either things...which ultimately does them and whatever the "thing" was a disservice.
Keep one calendar and use different categories or colors within that calendar to identify your different hats. I'm a visual person so I really like color-coding, especially on my phone. That way at a glance I know if it is work, personal or THB related.
The way this helps in your work life integration process is that now you can see when you have a big thing going on at work. You can plan accordingly in your family or other hat situations. I often times will tell my husband when I expect to have a really busy week at work. This puts him on notice - I might be hard to get in touch with at work, don't try to schedule a bunch of stuff that requires me and I may be exhausted when I come home.
It also puts him on notice that I may need help with our daughter or it might explain my mood swings, in case they are drastic.
If you are married, I have a trick for you. I encourage you to create a way of sharing your calendars among each other. My favorite trick is to always send a meeting request to my husband when there is something that involves him or my daughter or that is going to put me out of commission.
For example, when I travel for work, I send my husband and my mom a meeting request for the full week that has a subject of Dana out of Town and then in the body specifics as to where I'm going to be and what they need to do.
By doing this it places a tentative appointment on their calendars (whether they accept the meeting or not). So, when they look at their calendar to book something they see it and will know not to double book or to discuss it with me or each other. This is also followed up with a conversation.
Now, one thing that you need to do to ensure this process works is to establish clear house rules between you and your family. I recommend everyone sitting down and discussing calendars and commitments as a family to establish clear rules.
Some given rules is related to your work schedule, even if you are an entrepreneur you should have clear work hours and they shouldn't be all day. Now, some do this by committing to a percentage for the week, others just give definite hours. Whichever works for you make sure everyone is heard and taken into consideration. No one person is more important than another.
In my household, my husband and I decided that our daughter would only be in one extra-curricular activity at any one given time. We realized that it is just too much to try and have her in multiple things with our already difficult commute and schedule. We also try to keep these activities limited to the weekends. When it comes to weekend activities, we always double-check with each other before giving a firm commitment to anything. Often times we may give a soft commitment (let me check with XYZ to make sure there isn't something I am not aware of but I think that date/time will work).
By doing this it helps eliminate frustration of one parent having less "self" time than another, or feeling overwhelmed because they had a busy week. It also helps the parents split responsibilities of taking the child where ever they need to go, especially on the weekends or non-work times.
I am team electronic calendars. The main reason is because they are easier to share and edit than a paper calendar. So, assuming you went the shared family calendar route, does your family know how to access it?
I'd recommend adding it to their cell phone, I mean who doesn't have a smart phone these days? Make sure those who have booking rights can add to it (many times children don't have edit rights to ensure they get approval from a parent first). The kids should have read only rights to the calendar so they too can identify the needs of the family. This is important in the family dynamic to start teaching them how to plan and contribute to a team.
The important thing to remember is if you aren't sharing important dates and potential conflicts, how is the other person/people going to know? If you are planning all of your stuff separately it is inevitable that you are going to double book yourself or forget about some things so try the one calendar or family calendar system.
If you have questions about this process, join our Facebook community or by comment below and let's have a conversation.