Just face it. If you are a professional with a full-time job, most of your Monday to Friday is spent working, not away from work. If you consider how you spend your time, your work is half of your life.
Let’s do some quick math.
Working 5 days a week x 52 weeks x 8 hour days = 2080 work hours per year
Let’s assume you have some sort of commute and you have a solid 4 hours of time with your family per weekday.
5 days a week x 52 weeks x 4 hours = 1040 hours per year
Add in the weekends, assuming 12 hours of quality family time per day.
2 weekend days x 52 weeks x 12 hours = 1248 hours per year
The total time = 2288 home hours per year
I’m going to go ahead and assume that you take vacation, but also spend hours working extra. It looks pretty even.
This is how work/life balance just becomes life balance. Somehow though the word ‘life’ has come to mean ‘whatever happens while you aren’t at work.’
I encourage you to toss out the notion of work/life balance. The whole thing is your life.
Now that we’ve dropped that on you. This is your one shot on this planet.
The questions you should ask yourself are:
Where is my focus in this moment, right now?
No matter where you are or what you are doing, are you all in or distracted? If you’re distracted, take 5 minutes, get it sorted and re-focus yourself. Whoever you are with or whatever you are doing deserves your complete attention.
What is the return on investment of my time (personally or professionally)?
My kids have a book called Bucket Filling from A to Z by Carol McCloud. The book is about being nice to people and filling their metaphorical bucket. Treating them badly empties their bucket. The goal is to fill buckets (including your own).
Take this message of the book and spin it. When you consider how you spend your time, consider whose bucket you are filling – your own, your company’s or your family’s.
Note: If you are doing your job and it isn’t filling yours or your company’s bucket, it might be time to leave!
Here’s an example from my life on how my perception changed my bucket filling efforts.
My company was going through a merger right when my wife was pregnant with my first child. The day after my daughter was born, the CIO had the first combined team video conference. I left my wife and daughter in the hospital, rushed home, showered and went to the meeting. Afterwards, I went back to the hospital. The time away from my new family was 4-6 hours.
8 years later, my wife still remembers me leaving and rushing around, but my CIO and my peers couldn’t care at all and most likely didn’t notice. Sure, I’ve been promoted since then, but it wasn’t because I showed up to some meeting.
I thought I was filling my bucket, when really I was just emptying it onto the ground. That was invaluable time with my family that I took for granted and gave me no long term gain.
You are faced with decisions on how to spend your time every day. Be sure you are keep an eye on your bucket to make sure your life is in balance.