When was the last time you had a date night with your significant other? Have you missed a few of your kid’s recitals/games/tournaments in a row? Are you constantly stuck at the office or running to business meetings and having to miss… well, anything other than work? If your answer was yes to more than one of these questions, it might be time to take a look at your work-life balance.
A survey conducted by Duke University and Grenoble École de Management found that among the 800 CFOs who participated in the study, working around 70 hours a week was “normal”. The survey also found (not surprisingly) that these CFOs would like to be working fewer hours.
Constantly working without enough downtime can cause some serious damage! But how can working more be a bad thing, you may ask? Overworking has been shown to lead to burnout, stress-related health problems, and potential breakdowns in personal relationships.
Physically, heightened stress levels for prolonged periods can increase levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in the body, which can elevate your blood pressure and affect your immune function. Stress can also contribute to poor sleep. Mentally, stress can cause problems with memory and concentration, as well as affect your mood (if you’ve been crankier than usual lately, that might be why). This can lead to serious fatigue.
You know that little thing in your pocket/purse that is constantly going off? Smartphones, tablets, apps, and other tech-related advances have made work communications much more efficient, which is amazing, except if it starts to interfere with your downtime. Technology, which allows people to be connected to the office and their work 24/7, has become a major factor in decreased work-life balance.
With the notion of ‘happy workers work harder’ in mind, some companies are looking at ways to encourage taking personal time to combat the lack of work-life balance that many senior finance professionals often face. These include on-site fitness facilities, on-site childcare, mandatory vacations, and options like telecommuting or having flexible work schedules.
These efforts end up paying off in terms of recruiting and retaining talented employees, having lower absenteeism, gaining better productivity, and encouraging more buy-in and commitment to corporate goals.
Having an employer provide opportunities for work-life balance is fantastic, but there are also ways for senior finance professionals to take some control over their time and manage that work-life balance themselves. As you work toward your personal work-life balance goals, why not help your colleagues out in the office by promoting the importance of finding balance and offering them some inspiration? Feel free to use and pass along these helpful tips:
- Tip #1: Ask yourself, “What does work-life balance mean to me?” Each person will have a different idea of what work-life balance is and how it will work for them. Take time to examine your goals and lifestyle, and decide ideally how much time you really want to spend working, and how much time you’d like for yourself.
- Tip #2: Communicate your needs/Ask for help. If you’re headed for burnout, let your boss know about it. If you need to take some time off, be sure to request it. It’s important to be clear about what you need to make you the most productive employee possible. It’s okay to ask for help!
- Tip #3: Make balance a priority/Schedule time. You schedule time for meetings and mark deadlines in your calendar for work, so why not block off your personal time? “2:00pm – Take a nice walk in the park, smell the flowers!” You might find you’ll be more inclined to actually take that time off if you’ve scheduled it!
- Tip #4: Unplug/Set boundaries. If you are away from work, that’s your personal time. Respect that time by turning off email notifications, putting your phone away, and focusing on something other than work.
- Tip #5: Plan consistently. Keep track of your responsibilities and plan ahead of time to do your due diligence when it comes to avoiding your work creeping into your personal time. The more organized and efficient you are at work, the more you can get done, and the less you have to worry about it affecting your personal life.
Work-life balance doesn’t always come easy, but if you start making small changes and advocating in your workplace for how important that balance can be, you’ll find yourself reconnecting once again with your loved ones and the world outside of the office.
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