Speak to any work from home parent and they’ll tell you, balancing work and life is a constant struggle. The lines are constantly blurred, with many feeling guilty for working on their mobile phones whilst spending time with family. As a result, work from home parents tend to feel super-guilty for not getting that work-life integration or balance ‘right’.
But what if you didn’t have to?
How work-life integration is different
The balance between work and life was always going to be a difficult one, mainly because it’s nearly impossible to separate work from life, when you work for yourself. We tend to see the work-life balance as both sides of our life competing for our time and attention. This is why work-life integration is a better, more achievable solution.
Work-life integration is about combining the two together, in a way that suits you, your family and your business. It’s about creating a synergy between the different areas of your life – and according to Business Insider UK, even top executives are loving it. When you look to integrate your work into your life, it becomes a lot easier to see available solutions. You can spend time with your children and check your phone for messages. It’s no longer a worry about what to do with your children during the school holidays – you can have them at home, whilst you’re on a webinar or coaching call. If you have a hobby that you want to pursue, it’s no longer an either-or scenario – you can take time out during the day, to do what brings you joy.
Work-life integration alleviates stress
For many business owners the switch from a work-life balance to a work-life integration is not only a smart one, it’s a less stressful one too. It not helps them relax around the ‘rules’ of work, and, as it also alleviates the guilt around being a parent and a breadwinner. By focusing on what’s important to you (both at work and home), you no longer HAVE to juggle each, you can be motivated to find flexible, workable solutions that suit your individual needs.
It’s no longer about ‘making something work’
If you’re looking to implement work-life integration into your life, it’s easy to get started. It’s not about trying to make ‘standard’ working days fit your life – it’s about creating a framework that suits you and being flexible over how your day looks.
But that doesn’t mean you should drop all forms of scheduling or boundaries etc. In fact, it’s good for your health and wellbeing, to have downtime from your work. So, if you’re looking to get started with work-life integration, start there. Schedule in what’s important to you.
If you want to spend the morning at tumble tots, have family dinners together and allocate time at the gym – schedule time slots in your diary for these things. By scheduling them in your diary, they’re more likely to happen. In the same vein, if you want to spend an evening focusing on a specific work project or the morning sorting out your office paperwork and bookkeeping, set aside a time slot for these too.
Know your boundaries
It’s also important to remember, you still need to honour your boundaries. If you work better once the children are asleep, spend time with them when they’re awake – and schedule your work during late evening. Having downtime from your work is an essential boundary to stick with, so look to schedule in the days off you want.
If you’re looking to clarify where your time is being spent, in order to better honour your boundaries, check out this article over on the Forbes website.
Make use of technology
Smartphones and tablets have moved the office away from our desk. They’ve enabled us to work from anywhere – so make use of them! Opt for app and cloud-based software for your accounting and software needs, set up the option to sync your calendar and mail to your phone, and take notes and photos using the inbuilt functionality of your phone or tablet.
As with anything, creating your own work-life integration takes time. However, the secret to successfully implementing a good schedule is to find one that suits you – and for many of us, that’s one that includes a healthy mix of work AND home. And in prioritising what is most important to you, you’ll find life richer, smoother and a LOT easier for everyone involved.