How to use your professional skills for work-life balance

Remember when you got your first job, how you looked at the bosses? You were probably in awe of the high-achieving senior women, with their offices, their assistants, their busy diary. You probably didn’t think much about their work-life balance.

Work-life balance: time to enjoy lifeAnd now that’s where you find yourself. Between those times you’ve worked hard, really hard. You’ve solved problems and dealt with challenges you’d never have imagined. You know how to deal with the problem member of the team, and the high-flier.

What’s more, you’re the one with the team. You make big decisions; you work out the strategy. You ask the challenging questions, you use your extensive expertise to make judgements. You ‘ve created visions, you’ve inspired colleagues, clients and board members.

You know what it makes sense for you to do, and when it’s more efficient to get someone else to do it. Effective delegation is second nature – and it’s a skill that got you to where you are now.

And then you go home.

There, you clean your kids’ school shoes, sort out your car insurance, work out how to find a good plumber to service the boiler and get that hardly used train set onto Ebay. You dream of finding some time to plan the holiday you’ve been talking about, and you look despairingly at your calendar for a day to visit friends, but then you notice that someone has tipped up the yoghurt in the fridge.

Doesn’t it strike you as odd? Somehow the skills that have made you a great success at work don’t seem to apply at home.

But it needn’t be that way.

If you can do it at work, you can do it at home. In fact, you owe it to your family. Because what you do at work is making great use of your time, which is exactly what everyone wants you to do at home, too.

So here are the reasons you’re not currently using your brilliant professional skills to benefit you and your family, and how you can apply them to make you the queen of home outsourcing. They’ll also make you the envy of all your friends in the process, even if they won’t tell you.

I don’t have anyone to delegate to.

The answer: You can find someone to do almost anything. Ebaying, shoe cleaning, holiday planning, house-sitting – it’s all there. If you were at work, you’d draw up a brief of what you needed doing, specify requirements for the role, do research online or by talking to other people. The same approach can work for you now.

I wouldn’t trust someone else to do it like I do.

The answer: At work, where millions of pounds might be resting on something, you’ve trained and developed people to understand what’s important and how to do it. And you’ve learned how to delegate things so that they’re done well – which is a skill in itself. Part of that is likely to be letting go, and focusing on the final result, not the process or replicating on exactly how you’d do it. It may take some practice to let go of things related to do with your family or home, but if you use your delegation management skills, you’ll learn to be equally confident about it.

I don’t know who to trust.

The answer: You’ve probably run plenty of interviews in your time, appointed plenty of suppliers, judged whether to work with all manner of clients. Use the skills you’ve developed. Ask around. Use your network. Maybe you need a service which has its own network of trusted suppliers (which is something we pride ourselves on at Time Wizard).

Am I giving up something I should be doing?

The answer: Don’t think of it as giving up one thing, but gaining another. You’re not giving up caring for your children’s clothes, or your office paperwork, you’re choosing time for your children, your partner, your friends, your health. Just as passing on a task to your assistant at work isn’t giving up on a task, but allowing you to do something more valuable and unique, so taking on more help at home is exactly the same.

What would my mother/friend/partner say?

The answer: Ask yourself how much you’d worry about them when you’re making a difficult work decision – and the answer is probably, not much. You’ve had to justify plenty of difficult decisions at work to your boss, your team or your board, and even if it was hard, you’ve stood up for what you believed. Apply the same principles. In particular, rationalise it in terms of the value of your time, and where you can have the greatest impact on your life and your family. Above all, don’t feel you have to apologise for using your skills to make decisions that benefit the people closest to you.

Actions to improve your life now

  • Work out the top thing you want to gain time for: family, fitness, pets, hobbies. Decide how many hours per week/month/year you want for it. 
  • Resolve to outsource that number of hours. 
  • Look at your to-do list and find things on it to start with. If you want some help, see our post on turning your to-do list into a to-delegate list. 
  • If you don’t know who to delegate to, call us now, and we’ll do it ourselves, or find the right person for you. 
  • Set aside the time you’ve gained, and use it in the way you wanted. 

 

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