Our high performers are moving at such a quick pace to be successful in the workplace and they are eager for promotion, the better office or a new location. Work life balance is one of the most difficult things to teach and when you start working you believe you will have time later and now you just need to achieve everything you can. Achievement never ends, but if it is single focused, you are very boring at cocktail parties.
When I think about work life balance I often refer to Andy Stanley’s explanation of margin. “Margin is the space between your current performance and your limits. When you reach the limit of your resources, strength, capacity or self-control, you have no margin. And without margin, you have no room for error. The consequences of margin-less living are most apparent in our relationships.”
The question is, how do you arrive at margin?
There isn’t a single answer, margin and work life balance isn’t the same for everyone. Discussing this concept with various people we heard lots of different ideas. For some, it’s leaving work at 4:00 every day to have family time, and getting back online once the kids are in bed. For others, its forgoing semi-offline 2 week vacations for exotic totally unplugged 3-day getaways. Throughout our lives we move through different stages and priorities, and we each determine the balance what works best for us to maintain margin.
Do I have enough margin?
Some will say you never have enough margin, but in all things there is a balance. Ideally, it’s finding what works best for you in your work and personal lives. Some signals that you may not have enough margin in your life, are you:
- “Always on”
- Easily frustrated
- Less efficient/productive
- Maintain poor eating/health habits
How do I create margin?
Establishing that you need greater margin is only the first step. How you make changes to keep focus on your priorities and implement change for the long term is the more complicated component. Evaluating the following factors and finding someone to help hold you accountable are great first steps.
- What are my current tasks and responsibilities?
- What do I need to add to my tasks to achieve my goals?
- What can be delegated?
- What are my “time wasters,” or non-value added tasks?
- Do I need to better prioritize or learn to say “no?”
- Who will give me an honest, unbiased view of my life?
An effective leadership program will help our future leaders embrace work life balance. Creating margin in their lives will make them better leaders, it will create empathy and compassion for those they influence and give them the capacity to continue down the long and challenging path ahead.