I remember the day of 9/11. I was working for a company in Toronto. I reported to two guys who managed a large department. Like most companies around the world that day companies closed early and let their employees go home to be with their families and because no work was going to get done anyway.
As I was leaving I asked one of the guys I worked for if he was going home and he said, "no, I'm going to stay here and get some work done".
The other guy I reported to also worked really hard. His wife once told me that she sent family pictures with him for his office so that "he'd remember he had a family".
Don't be like them.
Cell phones, computers in every room in the house have increased the amount of work people are expected to do, or take it upon themselves to do with the hopes of getting ahead.
They give up taking vacations. As a matter of fact, I heard an article on the radio the other day that said that people are leaving a lot of their vacation on the table, they just don't take it.
I've heard of people bragging how they've stayed up all night working.
And then the day comes when the company decides to downsize and they get walked out the door. And they wonder what it was all for and was it worth it?
And if you are a workaholic, are you really getting quality work done? There have been studies that show that productivity goes down quite some time before people call it a day and head home. A quick search on Google will show you many articles like this one that attest to this.
Here are seven steps to help you manage your work and improve your work-life balance.
1. Set and stick to time boundaries
Decide on what time you are leaving the office for the day and stick to it. If you decide your work day is going to finish at 6PM, make that commitment and honour it.
You can also set time limits for tasks. There is nothing like a deadline to motivate and help provide focus.
2. Take a break from the Internet
Are you staying at work late because you are catching up because of distractions during the day?
When you are working, turn off things like your email notifications and don't open Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin unless it's a required part of your job.
3. Find something fun to do
Why not find a hobby that is completely unrelated to your job? It's amazing how the change of focus will help you relax and enjoy life more. Give yourself a good reason not to have to spend so much time at work.
4. Make time for your friends and family
Remember the song, "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin. It was about a man who had no time for his son and he taught his son well. When he was older and had time to slow, down, his son was too busy for him.
Your good friends are also the family you have chosen. Make time for them too.
5. Stop spinning your wheels
Is one of the reasons you are working longer days because you are spending too much time on the tasks that don't matter as much and then you have to catch up to get the critical work done?
Try prioritizing your tasks and spend most of your time on the most important tasks. Then when you've tackled those, work on the little stuff until your set time to go home and enjoy your family and hobbies.
You'll get more done
6. Make your health a priority
The stress that comes from working too long hours, the unhealthy food you end up eating and lack of sleep can take a serious toll on your health. It just isn't healthy. You may be banking a lot of money but if your health is shot, how much will you enjoy it?
Make your health a priority and you may just start to reconsider how many hours you work.
7. Birds of a Feather flock together - join the flock
They say that like attracts life so why not find others who have managed to create a positive work/life balance? Learn their secrets and how they were able to overcome their need to work longer hours.
The Bottom Line
Being at work for too long doesn't affect your relationships in a positive way. Make family time a priority. Getting home in time to play ball with the kids or to go out for dinner with your spouse or just to unwind and work on a hobby will make you feel better and healthier.
It will also help you to recharge your batteries so that when you are at work, you can give more of your best. It will help you to spend more time at work "doing work instead of time".
It's Your Turn
Do you see yourself in this article? Have you overcome the workaholic habit and are now living a more relaxed life? Share your story in the comments below.