When I decide on a topic I want to write about for the IMPACT blog, I focus heavily on what I'm experiencing in that moment; A real-life example I think might be valuable to share for other marketing leaders.
As one of IMPACT's Marketing Strategists, I'm often juggling 100 different things for clients any given week -- and as a mom of three under the age of 10, I'm juggling a million personal objectives and tasks on top of that.
Balancing work and life, with or without kids, is probably the most challenging thing to figure out for anyone.
Whether you are in marketing, a CEO, or heading off to college for the first time, we all deal with it daily, and honestly, I still don't know how the heck I do it.
But, the point of any blog from IMPACT is to provide value and help.
Despite knowing I will spend the rest of my career fine-tuning my work/life balance, I'll let you know what works for me and for others I have spoken to over the last several weeks, and hopefully you'll be inspired to find your perfect work/life balance too.
Tip #1: A Company Can Make or Break Your Work/Life Balance Scenario
The absolute, most important part of creating your perfect work/life balance is finding the company that understands how important it is.
You can't manage life and a career without a leader or company that doesn't know first-hand the importance of it. Management needs to lead by example. If they want their employees to have a great work/life balance, they too have to have it.
Trust me, I've been through a few companies that didn't get it, and I've learned from it. You too may have to go through a few until you find your perfect match.
How do you find your perfect match? Well, for starters, during your interview, don't forget to interview the company as well. At the same time, however, we can't just ask:
"Hey, how do you feel about unlimited vacation time"
"What's your work from home policy"
"How many personal days do you get"
"What happens when I have to pick my sick kid up from school"
"What if I need to leave early to take a kid to soccer practice"
That would make you sound like a slacker, right?
Instead of asking these questions, you can do the following to evaluate how an employer values work life balance:
Define what work/life balance means to you first. My work/life balance is different than many others at my company; We don't all have kids and have different priorities. Evaluating what means the most to you personally before the interview process begins will help you weed out companies that don't meet your needs. Is it more gym time? Is it the ability to get your kids off the bus? Do you have a passion for volunteering? Remember, your goals and priorities shift as you grow. What is important to you at the age of 28 may not be the same to you as when you are 38.
After you've defined your perfect work/life balance scenario, the next step is to evaluate job descriptions. If you have a family and the job description straight up says: "must be willing to work nights and weekends," this probably isn't the best selection for you.
One - Hundred - Thousand - Percent research the company! Check Glassdoor, ask your network, check for high turnover (a little investigating on LinkedIn can go a long way). If you're really loving the company, you can bring these concerns up in the interview very professionally and have peace of mind.
And, when all said and done, ask the interviewee questions. Again, you don't have to sound like a slacker, but you can simply ask how they maintain their employees work/life balance.
Remember, a company can make or break your perfect work/life balance scenario, so make your selection carefully.
When you find your perfect match, stick with it. The grass isn't greener on the other side. There is a lot to be said about a company and a leader who truly cares and understands the importance of balancing your career with your life sytle.
To be honest, there is rarely a week here at IMPACT when I'm not reminded of this by our fearless leader, Bob Ruffolo!
Tip #2: Manage It All
I laugh at this; Managing it all? What the hell does that even mean?
There are weeks when I feel like I'm going a hundred miles a minute and have NO idea how I remember everything. I'm a multitakser beyond measure. I can cook a box of mac and cheese, check emails, and attend a meeting all at the same time. But, should I?
Not to devalue anyone else's job, but, in marketing, there are 100 different moving parts. We have to make sales happy, think about kick-ass strategies, review data, numbers, leads, creatives, ads, social media... I can go on and on.
But does multitasking damage your productivity? From experience, hell yes it does, and if you are managing 100 things at once, it's time to pump the breaks and get control of your schedule. But how?
1. You have GOT to put some downtime in your schedule.
Marketing is a creative industry. We deal with creative blocks when writing content to designing and developing.
It's important to be able to step away sometimes and take a breather. You've got a handy calendar on your computer and your phone and probably your IPAD and or tablet and I bet they are all synched up.
Schedule that downtime right in there, especially if you know you have a huge project coming up and you're going to be hyperfocused on finishing it by the deadline.
A quick 10-minute walk will do you wonders, but if you leave your schedule wide open, someone can steal those 10 minutes from you.
2. Don't overload on activities that shouldn't be part of your daily routine!
I'm so guilty of this, but I'm trying to get better with it.
This happens at work and on a personal level, and you really need to take stock of everything you do and evaluate the importance of it.
If it's not furthering your career, helping your company grow, or making your personal life more fulfilling, DROP IT!
You don't need to be on every team at your organization, at every single meeting, and you don't need to say yes to every thing your family or friends ask you to do.
We all have a little bit of FOMO, and I think it's especially true for marketers.
It's very rare that marketers are introverts, so it's natural for us to want to be involved in every... single... freaking... thing, but, you have to weed it out.
This allows you to focus on what really matters and the time to give 100%.
Tip #3: Build a Solid Relationship With Your Team
As one of the top digital marketing agencies in the world, we work really hard.
We are always looking at ways to improve our processes and are incredibly focused on the success of our clients. We have to work well together; There are no excuses.
In the same token, we have to be empathetic and understanding. We make mistakes, just like anyone else does, but when you have strong and compastionate teammates, they help you grow and learn from those mistakes without pointing the finger.
That's not good for anyone's morale and sure as hell isn't good for work/life balance.
In order to create a solid relationship with your team, it's incredibly important to spend time with them outside of the office, and by outside of the office, I mean lunches, happy hours, team building events, etc. that doesn't focus on talking about work.
You need that time to get to know your team members on a personal level. It's only then when you begin to have compassion and empathy for one another.
My last and final tip as of today...
Tip #4: Build in Professional and Personal Development
One without the other will not give you that work/life balance you're seeking.
I was having a conversation this week with a dear friend of mine; She told me about two conferences she attended last week and how excited she was to implement all of the new things she learned into her daily routine.
It wasn't until she got back into her daily grind when she realized, "How the hell do I fit everything I just learned into what I'm doing? I don't have time for it."
In our personal lives, we may register for an upcoming race or decide we want to start going to the gym or take a yoga class with our kids.
We learn and want to implement all these things into our already packed schedule and more often than not, we slowly forget to make implementation a priority.
How do you do it?
Make a list of everything you learned at the last conference you attended and prioritize how you're going to implement it into you weekly routines. Cross off what's not possible and add what is into your Trello board and put it in your calendars.
Want to run in a marathon (kudos to those who do); download a training schedule and add that to your work calendar. Tell your team about your training schedule and stick with it. You may also just inspire someone to do the same!
Find Your Balance
As I've already mentioned, I'm still and will forever work on fine-tuning my work/life balance. What's important to me today may not be of the same importance three years from now, but coming up with a solid process now will allow me to adjust and be agile with each new year.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this article and how you've managed your work/life balance. Please leave some tips in the comments, because you never know who you could be helping!
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