It wasn’t that long ago that a fellow employee asked why my calendar had Monday through Friday blocked out from 4pm with an entry titles WLB.
It was a desperate attempt to train others to give me back the many late days I assumed they were taking from me. As time went by I came to realize that the real culprit stealthily making me late for dinner on a regular basis, was in fact, no one else but yours truly.
Truth be told, it was my inability to manage my own time that got me into this unsustainable predicament. A predicament that has slowly squeezed the life out of me, robbing me of sleep as I tossed and turned at night, processing the days activities. Once asleep, the smallest interruption awakens my mind and a new days activities start queuing in my over active mind. Ever processing, even when I am trying not to.
Am I a workaholic? I don’t believe so, I don’t choose to work, I simply understand that there are things that need doing. Sometimes its possible to plan time to get things done but often there aren’t enough hours in the day, that’s when I have struggled. Is this an excuse? Perhaps.
One thing for sure though, I am no 9-5 employee.
Root Cause Analysis
They say recognizing you have a problem is the first step to recovery.
For me, balancing my work responsibilities with my personal life, family, hobbies etc. hasn’t come easy. I have this inability to switch off, especially when the workload piles up or if there are unfinished tasks or a nagging issue I have been scratching my head over.
In my mind its like trying to get some rest when the house is on fire.
If, like me, your “spare time” is spent doing something very similar to your day job, the lines between work and life become blurred.
Like an addiction, I had to admit that my loved ones were getting the short end. I was not happy, my health was slipping and I had developed sleeping problems. Something needed to change.
Who was I kidding, my self imposed expectations were not shared by others. Back to basics, I had to find a way to identify what meant the most to me, simply asking myself what would hurt the most, loosing my employment, loosing my family, loosing myself..
Something Needed to Change
The answer was obvious. I gave my employer the best of me and yet it was a part of my life easiest to replace. What I am most afraid of loosing was my loved ones. They need to get the best of me. Time to reset priorities.
I still have high expectations of myself but have learnt to push back, to set realistic expectations. I have negotiated flexible time with my employer by stating my intent to be more balanced.
Wednesday morning are blocked out as “time off”, I can go to school events, help with charity work, do things that are important to the balance of my existence. And when I can’t take time out on Wednesday morning, I may clip off the end of Friday or another day. Its not as consistent as I would like but slowly, this is becoming my new normal.
A Delicate Balance
Some folks have found it simple to box up time slots and have a clear division between work and life. Not so in my case. Often doing work that can’t be done in business hours, often across time zones, deadlines of all sorts, its almost impossible to time box in my case.
Instead its a very delicate balance, one I am often re-adjusting. Its a never ending work in progress. When I start sliding down that slippery slope, its time to reboot and prioritize. I wont give up trying, I cant afford to, there is too mush at stake.
I haven’t removed my WLD calendar entry that recurs every week day at 4PM, from time to time I do need to grab the time slot but its an exception and no more the norm.
I have also added a new entry blocking out every Wednesday morning. I have focus time locked in my calendar and have started gardening. I really needed something away from my keyboard. I realized that my keyboard is my kryptonite.
In time, I hope to trained myself how to truly balance my Work and Life. In the mean time, returning to this article will serve as my reminder.
Never give up!