Often, it’s difficult for women to find a proper balance between their professional and personal lives.
Many times, women operating in multiple roles—as business owners, employees, mothers, daughters and wives, to name a few—have to learn to juggle their obligations so that they can dedicate enough time and effort to each.
We’ve reached out to our female Taxlinked members and asked them, as working women, to shed light on how they achieve proper work life balance.
You Cannot Do It All: Balancing work and life for women requires sacrifice. Whether it is giving up sleep, a hobby, new job opportunities, friends or extracurricular activities for your children, working women cannot do it all. It is important for working women to be selective and dedicate time and effort to those activities that add the most value to their lives.
Part of this also includes letting go of the guilt associated with giving up something for something else. Popular blog Working Moms Against Guilt, for example, provides a useful guide for mother’s working their way back to work. To battle guilt, author Stephanie Tsales suggests keeping in mind a few things: be patient and kind with yourself; don’t rush into any decisions; ignore those who say mean or ignorant things, and; child rearing is not as posh as we’d like to think.
Cut Out Social Media: Being constantly connected to your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest et al can be a serious waste of time and a drain on your brain’s ability to function clearly. Blogger Susie Schnall, who runs The Balance Project, a blog-cum-book that interviews women on how they find balance, says social media is “probably one of the causes women never feel like they have time for anything.”
Pay Attention to Yourself: In most cases, women will sacrifice (see above) time spent on themselves. This shouldn’t be the case. It’s imperative for working women to dedicate a few hours a day to something they enjoy.
Taxlinked member Jurate Gulbinas says, “It is extremely important to have something that gives you joy in life. Whether it's reading a good book at night for at least fifteen minutes or participating in a hobby like exercising or writing in a diary, something that is personal and enjoyable.”
She adds, “Time management and priorities at any time of the day are important, but what keeps me grounded, even in the most stressful of situations, is that small amount of time that I try allocating each day, no matter how busy I am, to my own personal time.”
Make Use of Your Support Network: Some women don’t have a strong support network, making their lives that much more difficult.
However, if you do, milk it for all it’s got. Maria Saveriadou from Meridian Trust - Corporate & Fiduciary Services in Larnaca, Cyprus, for instance, says “having a good support system—spouse, grandmas, grandpas, etc., is absolutely vital to keeping your sanity.”
Belinda Wong, Director at Leader Corporate Services Limited in Hong Kong, presents an alternative solution to that dreaded lack of a personal network. She says, “One good thing about living and working in Hong Kong is that domestic helpers can be recruited from other Asian countries to alleviate the burden of house cleaning, taking care of dependents, cooking, etc. Lots of working wives and mothers delegate the household work to these helpers.”
If house help is available to working women and there are no budget constraints, then this option might be attractive to those of you in search of greater work life balance.
Think Strategically: Prioritization goes hand in hand with sacrifice. It is okay to say “No” when pressed for time. Also, it might be helpful to keep and constantly update a weekly or monthly schedule that will help you organize your time, all of the activities that bring you joy and your work deadlines. In more general terms, make a short list of your top priorities in life and stick to them.
Taxlinked member Carine Andreou from Meridian Trust - Corporate & Fiduciary Services in Larnaca, Cyprus, agrees with this idea, saying, “I find that being organized and planning ahead is fundamental in order to make it all work.”
At the same time, Belinda Wong, referring specifically to working women’s performance at work, says, “It is crucial to know the job’s tasks thoroughly and to provide solutions quickly. To this end, keeping ourselves focused on the work at hand and staying updated on the latest market trends and professional developments is far more important that working overtime, something very common in Hong Kong. Leaving the office early allows us to refresh our mind and body during the evening. This time away from one’s desk can also be spent on learning new skills and building up networks outside of the office circles, all things that may enable women to climb up the corporate ladder.”
Flexibility is Key: Overall, it seems that working women are finding that flexibility allows them to achieve greater work life balance. A recent Real Simple survey, for example, shows that 68 percent of women in the US claim “their jobs rarely or never interfere with their personal lives,” while numbers from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics highlight that close to 27 percent of women in the country have flexible work hours compared to only 11 percent back in 1984.
Maria Saveriadou agrees that flexibility is positive. She says, “As a business owner, there is an unspoken expectation to be available 24/7. Nonetheless, even if we keep working longer hours, we now have flexibility on how to spend those hours and focus on the most important objectives.”
In a September 23rd, 2015, The Guardian article, Lizzie Penny, Co-founder and Joint CEO at Huckleberry Partners and Futureproof, summarized this need for flexibility best: “The decentralisation of the workforce is a growing trend. I believe in a decentralised future, and my focus is on building a community of talented and ambitious individuals who create their own work styles. They work remotely towards shared outputs but are connected through trust, mutual respect and empathy to create the very highest quality of work. They are motivated by the freedom to deliver work on their terms and are redefining the rules for the next generation of workers... Presenteeism will be a thing of the past. We will respect each other’s lives, children, hobbies, travel, health, elderly parents, or simply personal preferences, and in doing so empathise with the individuals behind the output. We will look back at the world in 2015 and wonder why on earth it took us so long.”
At the end of the day, of course, as said by Taxlinked member Ramesh En from TP India Services, the ultimate goal for all of us is to “be happy both at home and work.”
Question: As a working woman or as someone who works with women, what is your #1 tip for women to achieve work life balance?