July 1, 2021

The Secret to Work-life Balance – Boundaries and Priorities

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There is something we all have in common… we all have to work for a living. Whether we are fortunate enough to have a job we find meaningful and fulfilling, or whether we are working just to pay the bills, we recognize that work is a huge part of our lives. In fact, for many of us, our work often becomes part of our identity. We take pride in our work, we want to perform well, to push further and flourish in our careers. This is great and healthy! But there is a dark side to our pride; we can push ourselves too far, or allow our employers to push us too far. Our work can easily become too demanding, exhausting and swallow more and more of our time.

Creating a Balance Between Work-life and Home-life

The more we give our work, the less we are able to give to other aspects of our lives. The more we give to work, the more it dominates our thoughts, wears us out, and sucks our energy… we have no time or space for our families, friends, or ourselves. Our relationships suffer and eventually, we suffer too. This is what led to my burnout. The best thing to do is to implement a plan to enable both your work-life and home-life to flourish.

Plan: part 1 – Boundaries

So, what does a good work-life and home-life plan look like? It begins with clear boundaries. Being clear and intentional with your time helps tremendously. Use your work-time efficiently and productively, but to the best of your ability don’t let it come home with you. Rather, spend the time outside of work to focus on relationships or your own well-being.

This means that the ability to know when you can say “No”, and say it appropriately, is an essential skill. Meet regularly with your employer, employees, team—whoever you work with—review and clarify everyone’s role descriptions and responsibilities. Clarify due dates for tasks. This way, if something comes up outside of your known responsibilities you have a valid reason that has been agreed upon by everyone to say“No, I can’t add this extra task to my load. This isn’t in my job description”. Of course, there will be times when you will say “Yes” because you want to give a little more to bless others, or there’s an unforeseen situation that needs only your attention, but these times will be from the margins of time and energy that you have created by guarding your home/work-life balance.

Plan: part 2 – Priorities

It is also important to understand your priorities. My wife, Adrienne, and I decided early on that we wanted our children to be our top priority and we would live life accordingly. We wouldn’t sacrifice our children for work.  This doesn’t mean that we never interrupt family time for crises, but it was a priority and we stuck to our boundaries where we could. I made adjustments to my work life so that I could pick up the kids from school or be available to have time for them in the evenings… and then return to work after they went to bed. A healthy home life leads to a healthier work life and vice versa. Setting boundaries and prioritizing your life will make your entire life feel less stressful and more fulfilling.

Reflection Questions:

  • What is your well-being plan? How effective is your plan?
  • What are your most important priorities in life? How can you give them the time they need?
  • Who in your life can help you create and keep your boundaries?

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