We would all love the idea of working a few hours a day, going home without spending time in the traffic, arriving at home were nothing needs to be taken care of and at the same time still getting things done at the office and having great success.
Today a lot of people are struggling to find a good balance between the job and their life at home, but to most people it seems like an impossible challenge and something that affects almost anybody today.
Besides working full time and more, I am married, enjoy spending time with family and friends and also like training to be a faster triathlete. This forces me to be an extremely structured planner with a very tight schedule
This has made me to think a lot about how I can get the best work-life and also study balance.
The modern business world and the enormous work load
Companies today are met with bigger and bigger demands from all of the stakeholders and are then forced to be super lean and effective. This puts pressure on the employees and forces everyone to “go the extra mile” to help the company achieve the overall goals.
This is not a bad thing and winning is not only good for the company it also feels fun and creates a great culture among employees. But even though it is not a bad thing, the pressure means working long hours from time to time and for the individual to invest a bit more time in the company.
Your first step – your attitude
I think that the first thing towards a better work-life-study balance is about attitude and your mind-set.
Accepting that you most likely cannot work less and spent less time at the office might be the first step
It is then unrealistic that work-life-balance is about finding ways to work less and getting more spare time.
Things take time and everyone is dependent on others and their deliveries meaning that it is not just you and the amount of tasks you have or your ability to solve your tasks, only.
How to change your attitude?
I have learned that you need to challenge the traditional way of thinking of a work-life and study balance and somehow need to look at your life as a company that needs to be super lean and profitable.
The reflections below are split into three parts and they are of course based on my subjective way of seeing the world and my abilities to cope with stress, my family obligations and somehow how I have had success with achieving my goals.
Part 1 – Your job
- Learn to love your job – get better at your job. Maybe new skills through courses or even an MBA? If your are good at your job, you will feel more in control of the things that affects you and the tasks and issues that you have to solve will feel easier and funnier.
- Make a genuine interest in the people in your team – or the other executives of the company if you are a part of the top management. This genuine interest will make you feel more “at home” at the office and the (over)time you spent at the office will feel less painful and more fun.
- Earn your respect by being a helper. If you are a helper and less selfish in your company your co-workers will give you so much more – not only helping you with your tasks, but also learning you new tips and tricks that you can use to get better at your job. If you are a bad guy at the office – no one will teach you anything.
- Be structured and time your tasks. Finding out what really needs to be done this day and accept that some of the things that suddenly comes flying in from the side might have to wait. Of course these emergency tasks might be extremely important and might suddenly get a first priority.
- By learning to love your job, you also need to learn to love you self and your capabilities. You need to obtain a certain emotional resilience and learn to say no. You should of course work hard and be loyal to your company at all times, but a bad leader should never push you around. If you get pushed around for too long time you will most likely feel that your office is a prison and the work happiness will decrease.
Part 2 – Your “life”
Start reflecting about what makes you happy and try listing the things that are extremely important to you. I have learned that it is extremely important to me to spend time with my friends and family doing sports and generally being healthy.
- Be extremely present in your spare time with the things that you do and this way get the most out of the time you have with your loved ones.
- Outsource everything at home and do not worry about the small things – nothing but focus on the important things when you are of. It might cost you a little to get someone to clean your home, do your grocery and what not, but it will leave you will valuable time to spend with your loved ones or like myself – time to train a lot and still have time for social obligations.
- Learn to accept that being selfish is perfectly ok sometimes. Do what you love in your spare time and prioritize things that you like and people that you love. Be true to yourself and learn to say no.
- Get in good shape – find a sport you like. A good fitness level will not only help you get through the hard days at the office. You will have more energy when you leave the office and then you will get more out of the hours at home or where you decide to go after leaving the office.
Part 3 – Your studying
Of course it does not have to be MBA studying, it could be another education or course or just the interest in obtaining new knowledge from extensive studying within a certain field.
- Be one step a head all the time with your homework. Start early with the assignments.
- Read and schedule time for studying. This sounds simple and it is, but sticking to the plan and keeping the schedule might be harder. Learn to be a study machine and say no to some less important social things in order to get ahead with your assignments and your reading.
- Find a study buddy that understands you and has kind of the same values as yourself. Help this study buddy like you would like to be helped yourself. I have had a study buddy that has been extremely busy and has more family obligations than myself and I have helped him as much as I could. Sometimes – even when I did not think that it was possible for him – he spent time helping me and spent time discussing my findings from various assignments.
- Use the academic resources at the campus, but accept early that you are the one that needs to perform and do the work. You are supported very well in almost all universities today, but accept early that you are the worker and it will get tough no matter what. Once you have accepted it – it will feel less painful and you will feel less stressed when you have deadlines everywhere.
Summary and recommendations
As mentioned earlier these “findings” are of course based on my personal point of view and based on my own values.
First of all you need to find your own style and review your own situation and see how this reflection can be a part of your own Personal development plan.
You should of course still be ambitious with your career, but extremely realistic with your goals and wishes of your private life
Be the best sportsman/lover/parent/friend you can be with the time you have available and stop spending time thinking about the things that you could achieve with your life if you had more time.
The 3 points below are my short high-level recommendations.
- Learn to love your job by getting better at your job – then you will be able to perform the tasks at the job quicker and the time at the office will be so much more fun.
- Be extremely present in your spare time. Live your life to the max and whatever you do in your spare time – go all in and accept that it is ok to be selfish from time to time.
- Get structured, consistent in studying and waist no time waiting – be one step ahead all the time. It will make you feel less stressed.
I hope that you are able to use some of my points of view on a better work-life-study balance and will do yourself a favour and start reflecting on your own situation and possibilities.
In my next blog my focus will be on the Personal Development part of the MBA, that especially Henley is well known and much recognized for. I will try to describe the series of personal development workshops and seminars that are designed to allow reflection on the MBA experience, draw conclusions, and facilitate personal growth outside of the classroom.