One evening I checked my inbox around 10 p.m. and saw a brand new work-related email from my friend Susan. It could have waited to the next day so I wondered why she was working so late. When I questioned her about it the next day, she told me she regularly works that late and admitted to being a workaholic.
Flash forward and Susan is now a new mother who is struggling with work life balance.
“As a former workaholic, it’s so hard to scale back,” she confessed. “Before, I had that crutch that I could always stay late to finish something.”
Lots of women and men face the challenge of changing their work habits after becoming parents. Others need to change their work habits when they become caregivers. This week, my friend Lisa called to tell me her parents need more supervision. Her mother has been falling lately. She has decided to scale back at work to be there for her aging parents, but worries she doesn't know how.
So how exactly do you go from full throttle to half speed? How do you scale back at work?
Have a plan. When you plan your work day, don't include the evening hours. Know the top three things you need to accomplish before you leave the office and get them done.
Use time wisely. Drive or commute time is ideal for making calls before you arrive home. The goal is to walk in your door ready to focus on your loved ones at home.
Delegate. Most of us want total control over every aspect of our jobs. Sometimes, when we scale back we just have to be okay handing things off.
Raise your hand cautiously. Resist raising your hand or agreeing to take on anything your boss or team needs. You need to be much more intentional about what you agree to handle.
Manage Expectations. You will need to be realistic about what you can accomplish when you work at a different pace. Instead of agreeing to a tight deadline, give yourself more time, and convey that new timeline to your boss or clients.
Reprioritize. Most people find juggling the demands of work and the responsibilities of family is an ongoing challenge, but the first step is recognizing your priorities have changed and you must change, too. It's easy to feel uncomfortable no longer being the go-to person for every big decision. But you can still be influential and have a home life if you take on the high visibility tasks.
Scaling back and finding the right work life balance is tricky, but it’s also doable!