I recently took a quiz put out by Wayne State on work-life balance. It is a series of true-false questions and like most of these quizzes, you can guess how you’re supposed to respond based on the way the question is worded. I scored in the middle — apparently my work-life balance is teetering on the edge. If I’m not careful, things will become unbalanced, per the quiz results.
The quiz comes with a handy 20 suggestions list for the work-life-balance challenged. Some of them I employ — a large family calendar, limits on TV time, and making time for myself. In other areas, I could certainly improve. One question they have you ponder as you are creating work-life balance is who will support you. I think that is interesting, because I have always assumed that the person to support my work-life balance is me. I can’t expect my partners at work or my partner at home to judge when I’m out of balance. I am a firm advocate of asking for what you need and setting your own limits in order to achieve the kind of balance you want. I don’t think people are out to upset your balance, they are just focused on their own lives.
However, it would be so much easier if those around us recognized the role they play in our work-life balance. Colleagues and patients could be more respectful of the things they request of us after hours. Our spouses and families could remember all the times we made the soccer game or band concert instead of the handful of times we didn’t. Our kids could pick up after themselves!
Unfortunately, I think it is rare to have someone in your social or work circle who is actively holding you to your commitment to achieve work-life balance. But wouldn’t it be great if we had a coach? Maybe we can do better by enabling the people around us to be coaches. Some ways we could do this are:
• Telling our nursing staff when we have an important family obligation so they can help us leave the office on time;
• Having our kids “police” our computer/smartphone/e-mail at home so that we do not spend excessive time on our devices;
• Giving our spouse permission to insist on prioritizing family over work when it really matters;
• Explaining to our patients that even though we won’t be in the office on a specific day, our partners are more than capable of taking care of them;
• Articulating to your kids’ teachers that you want to be at important school events but you need plenty of advance notice in order to reschedule patients.
There are probably a lot of people out there who would be willing to help us in the pursuit of work-life balance if we took some time to explain how they can encourage us. Who around you can support you?