Many of us work in fast-paced environments where tight timelines, a full slate of meetings and a busy commute all contribute to long, stressful days. We even carry our technology and “plug in” from home. Taking more time for ourselves can, however, make us more productive — achieving a better work-life balance will not only improve our day-to-day personal lives, but it can also help us return to the job each day refreshed, relaxed and more able to take on more considerable challenges and achieve better results.
Before you begin, determine what sort of work-life benefit you’re seeking. Spend time reflecting on reducing stress, increasing your happiness or maximizing time with family. Don’t forget that sometimes balance includes stoking your passion for life and work, in addition to just traditional R&R.
Work-life balance ideas
- Days off or away from the office. A mini-break, an extended vacation or the ability to work in a quiet locale occasionally can relieve stress. Days off can allow for mental and physical rejuvenation and a feeling of connection and calm. Resist the urge to offer to stay connected, if possible. It’s best if you can really unplug and step away from work.
- Volunteer time. Create flexibility or time during the week to devote to volunteerism — coaching your child’s soccer team or doing a shift at a soup kitchen. Giving back to your community can be restorative. Giving comes with an emotional high, even when it requires physical effort.
- Inspirational projects. Seek management or executive support to lead a project that inspires you or your team, and with outcomes that would improve your working life, such as a small initiative to improve a painful internal process or a more significant effort to rethink employee engagement. It’s incredible how a new opportunity to do something we love can bring back the excitement we’ve felt for work.
- Training or tuition. Look into reimbursement to pursue additional schooling, take professional development classes, attend conferences or seminars, or receive executive coaching. Ideally, these would be on a topic or area that you feel passionate about to fire up your creative juices and make you keen to attack the challenges of your work in new ways.
To leverage your negotiating skills for new work-life balance terms, think about what you need to achieve, focus on your approach and outline how you plan to negotiate. Consider your request, your timing and what you bring to the table.
Guidelines for making the request
- Consider your timing. Ensure you’re meeting with your boss on a high note after a significant project or a direct compliment from one of your customers, for example. Try to meet at a time of day, week or period where stress and distraction will be minimal. Be conscious of mood and the other demands or requests your boss will likely get simultaneously.
- Briefly share your reasons. It’s okay to touch lightly on the personal details of your request, but this is about how your significant work would get even better, not about helping you out of an emotional bind. You could explain how time off will rejuvenate you, get the creative juices for the project flowing and how you and the company will benefit.
- Consider asking for a bit more, but not too much. Make your request more than you expect but not so outlandish as to be dismissed outright.
- Highlight the benefits you bring to the company. What kind of work have you contributed? Share concrete examples and specific data to illustrate your performance. Critical to your success in this negotiation will be your ability to show the company your value to date and how your request will benefit both of you.
- Instead of counter-offers, offer alternatives. If there are reasons the company won’t accommodate your request, enter your negotiations with suggested alternatives for how you can improve the work-life balance situation. Reiterate the value you bring, and offer other options you’d accept.
When you’re ready to make your case, and you’ve picked the right moment to discuss, be confident, polite and flexible. Your ability to rest and rebuild will benefit both parties. Be self-assured as you highlight the rejuvenated dedication you will receive by gaining a thumbs-up on your request. Allow plenty of room for discussion of your request. Both parties will agree feeling work-life balance is a winning solution.
Joel Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 executive coaches in the U.S. and provides executive presence coaching utilizing his 3×3 Executive Presence Model. He is the author of 11 books, including “Are You Always Stressed and Hurrying at Work? Learn to Break Your Rush Syndrome Cycle.” Subscribe to his Fulfillment at Work Newsletter or view his video library of over 200+ easily actionable two-minute video clips by subscribing to his YouTube Channel.
Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.