The average CEO works 62.5 hours per week. With that much time spent working, it’s easy to neglect your personal life in favor of achieving your business goals. The issue with this lifestyle is it leads to burnout, broken relationships, and, often, poor health.
Work-life integration solves this issue by eliminating standard work hours in favor of a flexible schedule where you can attend personal events like your kids’ award ceremonies or yoga classes during the day and catch up on work in the early morning or late evening hours. If you manage your time well, this lifestyle approach allows you to be fully present in all the key activities in your life without sacrificing your goals.
Here’s how to achieve work-life integration.
Time Block Your Schedule So You Have Time for All of Your Priorities
Work-life integration is about making time for all of the important activities in your life. The easiest way to prevent activities from slipping through the cracks is to time block your schedule on a weekly basis.
Getting started with time blocking is easy. All you have to do is:
- Make a list of all the work and personal activities you want to get done each week.
- Add all of your meetings and other time-specific tasks to your calendar.
- Create blocks of time for all of your remaining activities.
- Leave a few hours to catch up on tasks you fell behind on.
This method helps you spend your time exactly how you want to instead of just reacting to whatever comes up each day.
If you don’t have much experience estimating the number of hours activities take, your blocks may be off for the first few weeks that you use this system. Over time, you’ll be able to create an accurate schedule that helps you achieve work-life integration.
Find Meaning and Happiness in Your Work
When you immediately jump from working on a frustrating project to participating in a personal event, you don’t often don’t have time to switch your mindset between activities. So, whether you’re annoyed or content with your work, your emotions will affect how you engage in your personal life.
Finding meaning and happiness in your career makes it much easier to sustain work-life integration since both parts of your life are congruent and foster life satisfaction.
Keep in mind that meaning and happiness may require different actions to achieve. Researchers have found that many people are happy with their jobs due to factors like fun coworkers and their status but they don’t think their job has an impact.
To create happiness and meaning, you need to identify ways that your work connects to your deeper values and surround yourself with a team that you enjoy working with. This ensures that even when your business is facing severe challenges, you still find satisfaction in your work.
Set Communication Expectations with Your Team
Pursuing work-life integration means that you’re going to work odd hours. If your team is accustomed to you working traditional hours, you need to inform them of your new schedule and, if possible, let them adopt it as well.
Keep in mind that, if left unchecked, flexible work schedules can cause communication conflicts if employees have to wait a long time for responses or they feel pressured to respond at odd hours because you are.
To avoid this, implement response time expectations such as:
- Emails within 12 hours on business days and 24 hours on weekends.
- Chats within 6 hours except between 8 PM and 7 AM.
- Text for urgent matters and respond within 2 hours. No texts between 8 PM and 7 AM.
Having guidelines for response times prevents your team from waiting around for responses or feeling like they have to respond during their personal time.
Eliminate or Delegate Low Value Tasks
One of the biggest challenges executives face when they try to adopt work-life integration is that they don’t have enough time to do everything they want to. Often this is because they have too many low-value tasks on their plate.
To gain more time for personal activities, you need to eliminate or delegate low-value tasks. Here’s how:
- Make a list of all the activities you do on a monthly basis both at work and in your personal life.
- Think carefully and eliminate tasks that are non-critical and offer no benefits.
- Go through the list again and identify tasks you can delegate to a subordinate or a contractor. This includes admin tasks like filing expense reports and chores like yard work. As long as it’s not financially prohibitive, delegate all of those tasks.
This exercise can easily save you a dozen or more hours a week that you can put toward more meaningful activities.
If your direct reports are too busy to help with your tedious tasks, consider hiring a virtual assistant. They can tackle all of your admin so you can focus on the strategic activities that drive your success.
Don’t Let Work Creep Into Every Area of Your Life
One of the biggest dangers of work-life integration is that it can be tempting to check work messages at all hours regardless of what’s happening in your personal life. This defeats the purpose of adopting a flexible schedule since you’re not being present.
Though work-life integration calls for you to break down the separation between your work and personal life, you still need barriers to prevent work from interrupting every area of your life.
Here are a few helpful rules:
- Don’t check work messages while you’re spending time with your friends/family or engaging in hobbies.
- Block off times to catch up on work so you don’t feel pressured to finish projects at inconvenient times.
- Say no to sudden, non-essential requests that pull time away from your existing work and personal priorities.
These kinds of barriers allow you to be fully present and achieve work-life integration. If implemented well, they allow you to attend all of the meaningful events in your personal life and reach your business goals.
About the author: Emily formerly led Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.