As a career professional, many of us struggle with a healthy work and life balance. We are either great at one and terrible with the other or we split our time and really don’t excel at anything.
From my experience, I can normally only focus on one passion at a time which has left me to struggle with a healthy balance.
My Struggle With My Career And Personal Life
I am a police lieutenant for a major city in Arizona. I supervise 7 sergeants and nearly 60 detectives and civilian staff. I am routinely on call and answer text messages and emails in my off time to address different issues that arise.
To be honest, I am very good at my job. I climbed to where I am because I used all of my time and energy into building a great resume and learning about leadership and management.
I also am a father and a husband. I have three children under the age of 10 that I have not always been the best role model for. About five years ago I had a moment of clarity about my lack of balance. My children no longer asked when I would be home or if I would be around for the next holiday because they expected I would be absent.
When I realized my kids felt it was normal for dad to spend more time and energy on work than his family, it absolutely devastated me.
Time Is Finite – Where Are You Spending It?
I spent my early adulthood focused on my career and nothing else. I started to grow a family in the background but I was not managing my time well.
When I had my wake up moment, I knew something needed to change but I didn’t want to sacrifice my work product to increase time with my family. I was torn between two passions.
My Life Lacked Structure
As I examined my time and where I was spending it, I quickly realized that I did not have any real structure to my life. I let my job control my time and was constantly pulled in different directions.
The truth was, I was a great worker and that is why I climbed the ladder so quickly. However, I was not a great leader.
A great leader empowers their employees to take on projects and to become leaders themselves. I struggled with letting go of control and trusting my employees. Due to this, it caused me to work harder – not smarter. My lack of delegation and trust also hindered the growth of my team.
How I Changed My Career And Home Life Balance
After much self-reflection and an examination of my time, I found several steps that have helped me better manage both my life and my career. I now split my time between work and home life without having to sacrifice the quality of either.
1. Examine Your Current Career/Work Balance
I sat down and put down on paper how many hours a day I devoted to work, to sleep, and to my family and hobbies. It was embarrassingly unequal. My work took up about 70% of my time, family 20% and sleep 10%.
By putting it down on paper, I could actually see where my time was and where it was going. I knew I worked a lot, but I didn’t realize how much.
2. Decide What Balance You Personally Desire
From there, I rebalanced my desired time table and gave my self a goal of spending 45% of my time on work, 45% of my time with hobbies and family, and 10% on sleep. To do this, I would need to cut back significantly on the amount of time I spent focused on work.
3. Cut Back On Work Time By Empowering And Training Employees
It was pretty easy to identify where all my time went when it came to work. I spent most of my time trying to accomplish all the tasks by myself because I was convinced no one else could do it as well as I could.
I decided I would spend more time training my employees on my expectations and give them clear direction on what I needed to be accomplished. By doing this, I slowly started to give them more responsibility and decision-making ability.
It was a quick turn around and I noticed moral started to improve. By slowly adding trust and responsibility to my employees daily tasks, they felt empowered.
A by-product of this was more time for me to focus on my middle management functions rather than being in the weeds with projects that could be better handled by my employees.
4. Monitor And Encourage Employee Growth
By releasing responsibility and empowering my employees to lead their teams without my direct input, I have noticed a transformation in them. They are more positive at work and are accomplishing more than I thought possible.
By delegating more responsibility, I have fostered a focus on communication. My employees still routinely call and email me to keep me updated on their progress but it is more of a notification process than permission.
5. Decrease Time At Work And Increase Time With Other Passions
Because I have decreased my responsibility at work, I have freed up much more time for me to focus on other aspects of my life. My relationship with my family has greatly improved and my stress levels have significantly lowered.
In addition, I have recently been able to spend more time on another passion of mine which is finance. I have started a personal finance blog over at Arrest Your Debt which allows me to pursue other interests and expand my personal knowledge.
The Truth About Career Oriented People
Those of us who are successful in our careers are control freaks and can quickly turn into micromanagers. In reality, we may actually be doing more harm than good. By controlling every aspect of our team, we are hindering employee growth dousing creativity.
In order to be even more successful at work, we need to delegate more responsiblty to our informal leaders and open lines of communication.
The healthier your personal life is, the better your career life can be. I encourage you to reexamine your work and life balance and decide if you need to release some control. The more you grow your team, the less time you will need to directly supervise them.