Thanks to a younger generation of professionals who value flexibility as the number one benefit from their employers, our culture is slowly shifting to accepting work-life integration. As flexible job opportunities take hold, women now have more opportunity than ever to maintain successful careers and still take care of family obligations self-care, community engagements, and other demands that often disproportionately affect women.
Here are 6 simple ways to achieve greater work-life integration.
- Change your mindset
Embrace your work as a valued aspect of your life by focusing on the benefits it’s providing you and your family. Don’t feel guilty for liking your work or believing you are a better person when you have a job you feel passionate about. When your professional self stops being the competing side to your home self, you’ll see more clearly how they can integrate.
- Don’t Settle
If you are not growing as you’d like professionally or if your employer is reticent to give you the flexibility you need, chances are you are at the wrong place. Similarly, if you feel like you’ve lost yourself and are not growing personally, you need to find what’s missing. In both situations, burnout will be knocking at your back door soon. Find a volunteer opportunity or profession that you are passionate about doing. This makes getting up every day to a full schedule much more rewarding. Maybe you don’t know what you are passionate about anymore? Listen to podcasts that sound interesting, take personality quizzes, ask your family and friends where they see your skills fitting best. Don’t settle. You have too much to offer.
- Set Priorities
Work-life priorities look different for every woman and every family. Take a holistic approach to priorities and make a list of what you and your family need. Understand that these priorities may change every month depending on the age and needs of your spouse, parents and children. Is flexibility the most important need you have? Is a certain income level your greatest need? Ranking priorities will help you find the opportunity where you will be the most successful. You’ll be able to hone in on roles that would make you and your future employer the best match.
- Block Schedule
Work-life integration does require logistical organization that would make UPS jealous. Try blocking time on your schedule for your top priorities. Blocks can be 30 minutes or an hour and should include exercise and ‘you’ time. Many women who block out their schedule find extra hours in their day by rearranging the order of their tasks or tweaking some logistics. A lot of time is wasted on the mental load of thinking about what needs to be done, rather than the actual doing of the task so blocking your schedule frees up the mental space that may be keeping you from productivity.
Practice creating a block schedule and get realistic about the number of hours you can contribute successfully to your professional self and how many hours you need for yourself outside of work.
- Outsource What You Can
As people strive to make work-life integration successful, new services pop up all the time to make life simpler. There are lots of options for women trying to spend less time on tasks for the home. Try using a grocery delivery app, free grocery pick-up or restaurant delivery apps. The time you save shopping inside the store could give you back up to 1 hour of your day. If making homemade healthy dinners is a priority, find 3 recipes on your phone that can stretch throughout the week. What about a robot vacuum that can get rid of the dog hair while you’re away? Whatever your needs or budget, there is always something you can outsource that is bogging you down at home.
- Set Personal Boundaries
This might be the most important aspect of successful work-life integration. Integration will not work if you don’t set boundaries. Be open with your employer about when you are available and what you are not willing to compromise. For example, maybe you can work all day but must be available to pick-up from school or for 4 pm practices. As long as projects and tasks are completed on time, chances are your employer will have no issue with your boundaries. More companies now know that meeting objectives is more important than how long you are sitting in your office. In fact, they are likelier to be wowed by your productivity during the hours you are available.
Every working woman has to find what works for her career and her family to achieve work-life integration. Having a fulfilling career while also taking care of responsibilities and passions outside of work is possible with the right combination of planning, prioritizing, and boundary setting.