Creating Work-Life Balance

Yes, there is only 24 hours in a day and no more.  I have heard and even said it myself “I wish there were more hours in a day”. Do we really want more hours in a day?  My guess is not really.  We just want to get more things done in the hours we have and that isn’t always possible. 

How do we create a balance between our work, our home (family) and our community or volunteer work?  Our professional lives are becoming more and more demanding for several reasons but one of the biggest is easy access. Work files, email and phones are readily available through the internet and our smart phones.  This article comes from my own personal experience and from conversations with close friends.  A habit for me is I tend to look and respond to email, answer texts and phone calls when I am home and even on vacation.  Could they wait until I am “on the clock”? They could but I am now programmed to answer because it is easily accessible. 

Technology is easily accessible

“What if”…tends to come to the front of my mind.  What if someone can’t help with an event and I need to find someone else?  What if I don’t answer and they think I am not doing my job?  Because access is available, I may want to get it done so I don’t have to deal with it later.  There are many scenarios and many reasons why I continue to work even when my work hours are done. I have tried to keep it reasonable.

Making time for things we want to do

As a volunteer or someone who wants to volunteer, what holds you back from making a full commitment?  When I make a commitment to volunteer, I have a certain idea of what the expectations will be before I commit.  Most cases, I assume I will need to attend meetings. Whether it is a board, a committee or event planning, meetings are inevitable, whether we like them or not.  There is the assumption  I will be given certain tasks and I will need to follow through because the organization and the rest of the team are counting on me.  Another lesson learned is I make time for things I really want to do – for something that has meaning to me.  If we didn’t make the time to volunteer, where would the organizations be? 

As a mom, creating that work-life balance was difficult.  Demands of the job and demands of my volunteer work were cutting into my most important role of being “mom”.  It was a struggle for me when my children were younger.  A way I found to work best for me was to include my children in my volunteer work.  My kids began going with me to events and helping in small ways.  They learned early on how important it was to volunteer.  I’ll never forget a conversation my middle son had with someone who asked him what his mom did for a living and I overheard him say “my mom’s a volunteer”.  That made me smile because I worked for a nonprofit and got paid for some of the work I did.

Creating a work-life balance is a very personal issue and everyone needs to find out what works best.  Family is important, the job is important and being a volunteer is important.  That is what makes our communities great.  Taking the time and energy to determine how to fit it all within the hours that is available AND making time for ourselves (don’t forget that).  My mother always told me “it will be there in the morning” and though I forget that sometimes, I know it will but in this day of instant access and gratification, it is hard to resist getting it off my plate to move on to something else.  There is always one more thing and it is up to us how we balance it all.