Achieving Work-Life Balance

I think most of us work to earn money to pay the bills.  How much of our time is devoted to this effort?  It is reasonable that a comfortable “balance” exists between work and personal life but just what does that mean?  To me it means a stress free life.  There are certain “jobs” that require our attention around the clock and throughout the calendar (24/7 in hip-speak). A Project Manager’s job at TerraTherm would fall under this category. We must work day and night and always be available in order to ensure the projects run smoothly.

There are other jobs that only require commitments for our undivided attention and/or physical presence for 8 or 9 hours each weekday (9 to 5 in not so hip-speak).  One question that we should consider is “What is the ideal balance or ratio we should strive to achieve?” The answer may be different for each of us, but I believe that it is somewhere between a low of 1:5 to a high of 1:3.  This translates roughly into a 37.5 hour average work week on the low end and a 60 hour average work week on the high end.  I will not bore you with the math logic used to arrive at these numbers.  My theory is that most people fall into this range.  We are all different.  A healthy balance could also be obtained more easily by creating flexible and creative work schedules.  These concepts are becoming more common place and may be acceptable alternatives to a more traditional work schedule.

Identifying our own individual ideal balance requires some time and a thorough understanding of our financial needs.  Time is the main consideration we are identifying here, but it is obviously related to money.  How much time it takes to make enough money to pay the bills depends on our income level.  This number is extremely variable and dependent on many factors, but clearly the more money we generate per unit of time (per hour, per day, per week, per year, etc.) the less time needed on the work side of our balance.  This does not mean that the ideal balance is reached when our financial needs are met.  It is however, a good place to start.

On the other side of this balance is time for a personal life.  This includes time for ourselves and our families not dominated by work.  It includes time to relax and enjoy life.

Balance is not simply a math equation.  It is difficult if not impossible to calculate how much time is required to meet our personal needs, but if we understand how much of our time is devoted to meeting our financial needs, we can at least understand how much of our time is available to try and meet our personal needs.  I believe that balance can be achieved if we maintain control of our time.  Most of us are very busy and often focus on the things that are either right in front of us or are most noticeable, (think “Squeaky Wheel Syndrome”).  Staying in balance requires discipline and practice.  Managing our time successfully is the key.  There are four things I remind myself to do whenever I feel stress sneaking up on me and threatening to throw me out of balance:

  1. Stay Calm
  2. Prioritize
  3. Delegate
  4. Focus on what is important

A healthy work life –personal life balance is important to our success.  One final thought I would like to share.  We maintain balance when we ride a bike as long as we keep moving.  I think we also maintain balance more easily in life if we keep moving!

About Ken Parker

Ken Parker has over 20 years of professional leadership in Pollution Control Equipment Design and Manufacturing, Project Management of pilot tests and full scale, remedial designs, and remedial actions involving in-situ treatment of soils and groundwater, including a wide range of technologies such as thermally enhanced soil vapor extraction, air stripping, thermal oxidation, multiphase extraction, and in-situ thermal desorption. As Project Manager, Mr. Parker has successfully completed thermal remediation projects in New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, Tennessee, New York, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Louisiana.
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