Five Tips for a Healthy Work/Life Balance


You've met that person who can't seem to balance their work and home life. If you haven't met that person, you might the one with the problem.

Here's a non-scientific test to see whether you're work and life are out of whack (a la Jeff Foxworthy).

You might have a problem if . . .

  • Your calendar has your daughter's ballet recital, a dental appointment and the board meeting, all set for 5 pm.
  • You bump your child off the computer at night while she’s doing her homework, so you can finish your reports.
  • You haven't said "no" to a customer or a family member in over six months.
  • Your gym membership has not only expired, you can't remember which gym you belonged to.
  • You remembered your admin's birthday, but forgot your son's.

If you answered yes to one or more of these, you probably need to work on a healthier work/life balance.

Getting Control

Balancing a career and family is tough. It's easy to get overwhelmed by work, and let the family "get what's left."

Here are just a few tips to keeping an even keel:

  • Take a Moment in the Morning. Before you run to the gym or head off to work, take a moment in the morning to be grateful for what you have and the people in your life.
  • Phone Home: Call a family member one a day just to remind them you love them and they're in your thoughts. 
  • Work Hour Expectations: Be proactive and discuss with your boss his or her work hour expectations, including weekends, and holidays. Be clear on what tasks you can do at work or from home.
  • Have fun with Colleagues. There's a time for family and there's also a time to hangout with workmates. When your partner and/or kids are busy, that's a perfect time to take colleagues up on an invitation. 
  • Cell Phone Free Zone. Today, technology can consume adults and children alike. Make the dinner table a cell phone free zone. Talk. Turn on some music. Listen to what's happening in each other’s lives.

Employers Play a Role

Maybe you're the boss, and you'd like to help your employees achieve a better balance. Good for you. You can play a key role. Keep up-to-date on ways you can help, through articles, books, and videos, and  Supervisor and Manager Training resources offered by Media Partners.

Look into things (if you haven't already) like:

  • Flextime
  • Telecommuting
  • Work arrangements for employees caring for children or relatives
  • Paternity leave
  • Career development day
  • In-house daycare

When I worked for a Seattle law firm, they would give all the employees a card good for "One Paid Day Off" on Administrative Professionals' Day. It did wonders for morale and also helped increase loyalty and retain employees.

Just Do It!

If you need to create some balance, there’s no time like the present. And, if you keep more clothes at work than in your closet, you may want to start right now!

Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.