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Tips for Finding Work/Life Balance

By Eric Spell, AgCareers.com President

One of the things I feel most fortunate about in my life is having grown up on a family farm which has greatly impacted my work ethic today. Both my parents worked a public job in addition to our family farm operation. I’m indebted to my parents for instilling in me characteristics such as pride of work, finishing assigned tasks, and owning my responsibilities. While I would not change much about my childhood, my father has often said he wished he’d spent more time watching me in various sporting events. He still encourages me today to make sure I don’t find a convenient “work” excuse to miss one of my kids’ school or athletic events.

In the early 2000’s, AgCareers.com was being born. While there were many “bumps” along the early days, we began to see the fruits of our efforts by 2005. We began to add to our team the original vision was unfolding before our eyes. As leader of the business, I felt like I had to work exceptionally hard and long days to help shape our culture. While I did many things very well, my work/life balance needed some improvement. My travel schedule, after-hours meetings, working at home late at night, and obsession with the business were making it next to difficult to have a proper work-life balance. In 2009 during one of our annual team retreats, my team expressed their concern for not only my general health but my work-life balance as a whole and I began the journey to understand this thing called “work-life balance.” One might even refer to it as “work hard…play hard.”

Consider this: The average person will spend 44 weeks in a year at work. In a 5-day work week, there are a total of 120 hours. If most of us get just 8 hours of sleep each night that leaves only 80 hours each week of total awake time. If we spend 45 hours of that 90 at work, we have 35 hours to do “other things” during each week that we work! Below are a few tips that I would like to share:

  1. If you have kids, make an effort to spend time attending their school activities and/or sporting events. Top talent will value employers that support such time!
  2. Try and plan one hour each day doing something that you enjoy doing-reading a book, planting flowers, sweating at the gym, listening to music, Bible study, etc.
  3. At least once each week, have lunch with an extended family member or a friend.
  4. If you are a leader within your business or organization, make sure your staff knows the importance of your work-life balance efforts. Research shows that more and more talent today are placing increased value on flex time at work. If people get their work done and are performing to desired levels, let them off early to attend their child’s sporting events and activities!
  5. Never allow yourself to talk yourself out of attending a wedding or funeral! You’ll rarely ever regret attending such events!
  6. Look for opportunities to surprise your significant other with an unplanned get-a-way!

We have all heard the phrase “life is short!” Don’t let your love or addiction for work interfere with your relationships with family and friends. Such investments of time and energy are equally as important as our careers.