We all seem to talk about the elusive concept of work-life balance. It’s a term that means something different to each of us, so maybe that’s why it’s so hard to define. If you’re running a business, then WLB is something I am sure you’ve looked for…here are some tips for finding it.

Your time-frame counts!

People need to consider what the perfect “WLB” means to them – for some, the time frame may be day to day or week to week. Working parents need to be agile and responsive to both work and home demands. The time frame here can shift dramatically, even throughout the course of the day. Balancing work and life can be a fluid proposition.

For others, a quarterly, half-yearly or even an annual plan of balancing working days with chunks of holiday time meets their needs. Six weeks sampling gelati whilst sunning yourself in Europe, or exploring the remote villages of Laos, and viola! The perfect WLB has been achieved!

One-size fits all is rather imbalanced.

Some organisations have chosen the WLB topic to add to their “employer of choice” portfolio. Some deliver on loosely stated WLB goals by enforcing annual leave, typically to be taken over the Christmas Holiday, and pre-face the emails with commentary on the importance of WLB. This one-size fits all approach does not genuinely address the need for WLB.

Other large corporates are more focussed on allowing individuals to discuss their flexibility requirements, and have policies that aim to work with employees to define what the perfect WLB is. This tailored approach works well for those whose bosses are on-board with the idea of flexibility in the workplace. Broad organisational culture (and pockets of culture within an organisation) will impact whether employees actually take on the policy offerings.

Action stations – let’s get balanced!

So how do you create the perfect work/life balance? Here are points to get you started.

  1. Determine the currently demand of life and work, and name your time frame. Do you need to address your balance on a weekly basis, or is an annual time frame OK?
  2. Is there an opportunity to achieve this balance in your workplace? Read the policies, talk to colleagues and HR. You never know, you may be the first person to ask the question, but others may soon follow.
  3. Write down your WLB plan and reassess it. Your perfect work-life balance plan should be aspirational, but should also improve the key stressors that made you write it down in the first place. Once you have a plan, check in with it, first weekly, then monthly, then quarterly. How can you know if you’re reaching the goal of perfect WLB if you don’t know what it is?

Ultimately, the perfect work-life balance should help you excel both professionally and personally. And don’t forget, in times of challenge and change, review your plan, get help if needed and celebrate your successes!