Do you feel like your work-life balance isn’t right but you’re not sure what’s wrong, or how to improve it? Having balance in our lives is a deeply personal thing; what makes my life feel balanced may be completely different to what makes yours feel balanced because we all have different values, priorities and things that help us feel satisfied.
The most important first step in to improving your work-life balance step is to measure it, so that you can clearly see which areas are causing you a sense of imbalance and which areas you’re thriving in. You can do this quickly and easily by using a work-life balance wheel.
The Work-Life Balance Wheel
Begin by choosing 8 categories of your life that are important to you. Some of the most commonly used categories are below (if you want to use a category that isn’t on the list, that’s fine):
- Home (my physical environment)
- Partner / Romantic Relationship
- Health / Fitness
- Growth / Learning
- Career / Business / Work
- Money / Finance
- Family / Friends / Social Relationships
- Time with My Children
Next, download and print off Bright Sky HR’s free Work-Life Balance Wheel template. Label each section of the wheel with a category that you have chosen. Then colour in each section according to how strongly satisfied you feel about this area of your life, with 0 being completely unsatisfied and 10 being extremely satisfied.
The aim of the wheel isn’t to have the same score in each segment. It’s impossible to be able to give ourselves a score of 10 for all areas. To have a score of 8 and above in a segment means that you will probably be devoting a lot of time to this particular area and we all have a finite amount of time to work with. It’s important to understand that to increase your score in other areas, you may have to slightly lower your level of satisfaction in an area that currently has a high score.
Reflect & Make Changes
What the Work-Life Balance Wheel does give us is the opportunity to stop, reflect and decide what changes we would like to make. When looking at each area on your
Completed wheel, ask yourself:
- Am I happy with how much time and energy I am devoting to this area of my life?
- Do I want to put more or less energy into this?
- Is this area of my life helping to fulfil me?
- What are the consequences if I don’t change my satisfaction level for this?
Once you’ve decided which areas you want to increase your satisfaction levels in, make a note of how much you want to increase them by, how you are going to do this and when you are going to do this by. Put a reminder in your calendar for 3 months from now to make yourself check up on your progress. Often, simple changes can have a big impact. For example:
- To spend more time with your children, you might make the decision to block out your work diary from 5pm onwards three times a week, so that you know you will be back to read them a story and put them to bed.
- If fitness is an area you want to improve on, you could leave the house 15 minutes earlier in the morning and walk to the train station instead of driving.
If you are finding it hard to work out ways of reducing time spent in the office to fit other things in, the article Are Your Email Habits Damaging Your Career? has some productivity tips that may help. I will also be following up with future blog posts about other helpful strategies for achieving work-life balance.
Fay Wallis is a Career Coach with a background in HR and Recruitment. She is the founder of Bright Sky HR, where she helps people in their 30s, 40s and 50s overcome their career challenges with confidence. Fay creates free resources via blogs, videos and templates to help tackle many of the career issues her clients come up against. To have her latest resources sent to you as soon as they are created just sign up here. If you would like one-to-one support from Fay you can learn more about her coaching solutions here.