5 Ways to Improve Work-Life Balance in Your IT Career
As the world slowed to a crawl and so many of us began mandatory working from home a couple of years back, that mythical work-life balance came up in spades. Many workers were now home more, involved with their families more, and many have found a renewed desire to achieve that perfect work-life balance.
So, how can one go about learning to balance work and life? Here are 5 ways you to help you manage a healthy work-life balance
1. Take Advantage of WFH Policies
Working from home is a huge cheat code when it comes to achieving a good work-life balance.
I’ve worked in and around IT for longer than I care to admit. One of my first projects was setting up early remote access for my employer, and since then, I’ve been able to work outside of the office.
In years past, say you had a doctor’s appointment or needed to take your car in for service? You either had to blow a weekend or evening or burn a day off. With working from home, and now even more with Wi-Fi, smart devices, and cloud connectivity, good places to work allow WFH on those days. Maybe you need an hour or two in the morning? Just make sure you make up that work later in the day.
You get work done, you don’t kill a vacation day or a weekend, and everyone wins.
2. Leverage the Technologies at Your Disposal
We just touched on this a bit, but leverage things like your smartphone and VPN. As long as your organization is OK with it, you can manage to work from anywhere, at any time. This is not me saying “go work out of a movie theater”. No, not at all.
But long as long get the work done, that cell phone and other bits of tech, can allow you to multitask and be productive — both in work and life.
If you have a boss, communicate with them. If you are the boss, communicate with your staff. If you are supporting a customer, you get the idea.
In any place I’ve worked, where I had the ability to work from home, you adhered to one rule. If you were WFH, but work called? Answer it, unless you had explicitly communicated that that time was blocked off (IE, doctor’s appointment). Or, if you are otherwise working (customer call, etc).
If your boss calls, and per your plans communicated to them, you are supposed to be available? You answer. If by chance you are on a call, especially with text messages and other instant messaging? Let them know in real-time. Do not be that person who abuses WFH and ruins it for your team.
4. Strengthen Your Time Management Skills
In an office or not, you need to be good with time management. Know what is due, know when it is due, and understand what time slots you have coming up to do it.
Know you need an hour on Friday to take your dog to the vet… but have a presentation due right after? Then make sure the presentation is done and shared ahead of time, so you have no issues.
Work to live not live to work, right? Unless you really really love your job, most of us work to live. That is, you work to pay your bills and take care of your needs, and those of your family. But, do not lose sight of the family and friends aspect. Take breaks, go on vacations, and stop and smell the roses. Otherwise, you can be grumpy and get burned out.
5. Establish Clear Boundaries
Have boundaries, set them, and stick to them. This goes a couple of ways. When working from home, do your best to have a dedicated office area, and keep work in that area. Don’t let work bleed into your kitchen during dinner time. Need to take a call? Go to your office. If you are out of your office, your family should know that it’s safe to engage.
From a work perspective, remember what I said about communicating? If you tell your boss you are going on vacation for a few days? Take the time off. Work should respect that boundary, and if you can’t take time off without being bothered, well, that could be a whole different conversation.
Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list of how to achieve or improve your work/life balance as you progress in your IT career. These are just some of the tips and tricks and rules you can hold onto.
Are there more? Absolutely. And to be fair, some are things that IT professionals have picked up through their own experiences. You alone can truly define what your ideal work/life balance is, and using these tips and more, hopefully, you can achieve it too!
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