Okay, so before I go any further with this topic I’m going to ask just one thing of you. You need to take a look at your own life with regards to the two elements of your family life and your professional life, then you need to define for yourself what the ideal work-family life balance would be. It’s extremely important to personalise it completely because I can go on about how I maintain balance in my life and yet I could be speaking about it from a point of view that doesn’t even remotely resonate with you…
Admittedly, there are some aspects of your life that will just eat up a fixed portion of your life with not much you can do about it, like if you have explicitly-defined working hours, as many of us do. If you work from eight to four, for example, you can’t just wake up one day and decide that actually you only want to work five or six hours for the same salary…
What you can do however is look for ways to cut down on all the residual time associated with your work, such as resolving not to bring home any of your work with you and rather leaving it all at the office for the next day. You can perhaps also start to look for ways through which to try and cut your daily commute time, which I know is something that can be very tricky, but hey, there are some people who are making it happen, like a friend of ours who cycles to the gym before work and then catches the tube to complete the rest of his daily commute to work.
This is a great alternative to being stuck in the morning traffic every single day since the cycle route he takes tends to be shorter than the equivalent drive, with no standstill traffic to navigate. By simply changing his mode of transport in this way he always gets to work on time after taking a shower at the gym and then catching the tube, so much so that he can depart his house 40 minutes later than he used to. We all know just how precious an extra 40 minutes can be in the morning, whether it gives you just a couple of minutes more during that crucial window of time when your kids are going to school so that you can see them off, or indeed if it affords you that extra time to enjoy a proper breakfast with which to kick-start your day.
In the case of our dear friend, this means that he doesn’t have to go to the gym in the evenings anymore, giving him more time to spend at home after work.
Now I wish I could personally do exactly what he did and have an extra 40 minutes in the morning together with the extra 90 minutes of what would have otherwise been daily gym time, but the point is that each of our lives are structured differently and so each of us has to try and find a way to strike that work-family life balance which works for each of us individually. Although it is indeed all about effective and perhaps creative time management.
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