Finding a Balance Between Your Work and Personal Time

balance between work and personal time

It’s the age-old dilemma: how do you find a balance between your work and personal time in a way that makes you feel happy and guilt-free. Is it even possible?

When I worked in a corporate office downtown I started work at 8 am and finished at 4:30 pm. It took me 45 to 60 minutes to get there driving in rush hour each morning and another 45 minutes to get home.

As well, most days I brought work home with me after hearing:

Heck, why not, everything is on your laptop so why can’t you just finish up that report when you get home tonight?

Plenty of onsite (uncompensated) overtime was also expected of me.

One example went like this: You didn’t really have any plans for Easter did you, because the client would like their project completed while their staff have the weekend off. That way they won’t be in your way while you work straight through from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon. Sleep? We don’t believe people require sleep.

On top of that, every other week I was asked to travel either to the head office or to a client’s office to work onsite.

But when did you have any personal time? What personal time? Maybe those few hours I sat waiting in the airport for my next flight? Was that my personal time?

The bottom line is that there just weren’t enough hours in the day to balance both personal time and work, and life became very stressful.

As a result of all of this chaos I made some very hasty decisions in regards to my well paid, long term career, and guess what, life isn’t any less stressful today.

What’s that saying? Hindsight is 20/20. If I knew then what I know now I definitely would have done things differently.

If you are currently in a similar situation and are looking for ways to achieve a balanced lifestyle, here are some suggestions on how to tweak your schedule and re-evaluate your life goals, so that you can find a happy medium without losing everything that you have worked so hard to achieve, both at work and in your personal life.

Consider Your Career Path

The best way to start changing how you approach the limited hours in your day is to evaluate your career path.

Ask yourself: “Am I working in a career that I am truly passionate about? Is the trade-off between work and personal time worth the time I spend at the office?”

Asking yourself these types of questions (at any point in your career) will help you keep your priorities in check. The bottom line question is: am I able to attend to both my work and my family? If not, what needs to happen to find balance? Perhaps this means a change of career to allow for more quality time, money, or less overall responsibilities and stress.

Consider Your Career Duties

By evaluating your work schedule, you may be able to re-allocate your time and possibly cut down on late nights or early mornings at the office.

Another important workplace strategy is to delegate tasks to others.

If you typically handle everything in your department, it’s time to get help by involving others.

By delegating responsibilities to staff members, you not only empower your staff to have a more active role, but you also allow yourself more time to be home with your family.

Consider Your Commute and Career-Related Traveling

Start thinking about all the time and expenses incurred relating to your job.

It isn’t just the working hours that take away from your spouse or kids.

Commuting could cost you a couple of hours a day, while business trips could take away countless hours of valuable time that you could otherwise be spending with your family and doing things that you enjoy.

Evaluating these aspects of your job will help you decide whether it’s worth it, and if not, what you could do to change that.

For example, you could ask your employer if they would allow you more freedom with your work hours. Or could you ask if your boss would allow you to work from home. You just may be surprised with what your boss has to say!

Consider Your Priorities

Before you are able to adequately balance your work and personal life, you have to determine what’s most important to you: money and self-fulfillment or time with your family. Once you know the answer to this question, you’ll be able to better navigate your way to a happy and balanced life.

You may also want to calculate how much money your family needs to be happy and measure that against how much time you are willing to give to your career.

If your current job will never give you that balance or flexibility you desire, it may mean that you need to consider other career paths.

Or if your current employer won’t allow more vacation time, flexible schedules or remote work, it may be time to consider a new job at a different company.

Don’t Make Hasty Decisions

The most important part of all of this is not to make quick decisions and changes like I did just because I was so tired and stressed out.

Yes, you are most likely thinking that you need to make changes too. My advice is to take the time to rationally weigh all of your options and really put a lot of thought into the outcome of each option you are considering. That may take you a week or it may take you a month.

Even consider doing a risk assessment. For example, if I leave this job for a different one and it doesn’t work out, what will I do? Or, if I leave this job to start my own business, and it doesn’t pan out, what will I do? How will I pay my bills? How will I buy groceries? How long is the money in my savings account going to last me?

Come up with concrete realistic answers that you will really be able to fall back on if you make changes and things aren’t any better than before.


    • My Canuck Buck

      My Canuck Buck 07/30/2012 6:02 a.m. # hasty ones, but certainly yes, I've made decisions that haven't worked out. My problem is I take to long to make decisions! And I killed myself my first year of my first job, so I know where you're coming from.

    • Holly@ClubThrifty

      Holly@ClubThrifty 07/30/2012 7:38 a.m. #

      I used to commute an hour each day to work and it SUCKED. I have been at my new job for almost six years and it definitely has its downfalls but it is less than ten minutes from home. This frees up something that is incredibly valuable to me- my time.

    • Jai Catalano

      Jai Catalano 07/30/2012 10:58 a.m. #

      My problem is I am successful at everything I do BUT I do way too much... Hence I find myself never reaching that goal that I want to reach.

      Lately I have narrowed down and it has worked but I have ADD.

      Absolutely Dreadful Dandruff


    • Stephanie @ Empowered Dollar

      Stephanie @ Empowered Dollar 07/30/2012 11:21 a.m. #

      The best thing I ever did was set up my phone to automatically turn off my work email notifications after 5:30 pm. And you know what? There hasn't been any "work emergencies" that couldn't wait until the next morning!

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 07/30/2012 11:51 a.m. #

      @My Canuck Buck - Like you, my husband takes a long time to make decisions. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but I often turn to him for input before I make any new ones.

      @Holly - A ten minute commute to work sounds like a dream. I often question why all of the office jobs in our city need to be located downtown. Why can't some be out here in the burbs??

    • Holly@ClubThrifty

      Holly@ClubThrifty 07/30/2012 12:44 p.m. #

      It is ten minutes from my driveway to sitting at my desk with coffee in hand. It is an absolute dream!

      Plus, I work with my husband so we carpool. (We work at a mortuary) My job definitely has some negative aspects BUT at least I don't have to drive very far to it.

    • My Money Design

      My Money Design 07/30/2012 7:14 p.m. #

      Man, this is like the story of my life. I used to be very guilty of always bringing work home and never stopping. Until about a year ago I just decided that I needed to make a separation between home and work. You definitely don't need to get pissed off about it and wreck it for yourself, you need to ease into the transition. Good topic!

    • Budget & the Beach

      Budget & the Beach 07/31/2012 3:15 p.m. #

      So weird! I thought I commented! Anyway, I was really good about boundaries when I worked full time. I remember I used to have a lot of friction with my project manager because she had no boundaries and would just keep working and working. She called me up years later and said she wished she would have done things differently like I did. Wow! As a freelancer, it's even harder, because passing up jobs isn't really much of an option right now, so unless the request is ridiculous, I pretty much have to do it.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 07/31/2012 4:09 p.m. #

      @My Money Design & Budget & the Beach - It is really good that you were both able to set your own boundaries. I envy that you each had that option. My situation didn't come with that option. It was either work 70 hours a week, or there's the door...

    • Cassi

      Cassi 07/31/2012 6:06 p.m. #

      I know this year, I am only going from school from 7:30 until 12:30, but I really want to get (another) job, and start saving for college.

      Hasty decisions? Ummm, I don't think so. Well, at least none that completely changed me. I've made hasty decisions to buy something, but really, I haven't had the opportunity to make hasty decisions that I later regret.

    • Catherine Alford

      Catherine Alford 07/31/2012 11:02 p.m. #

      This is definitely the age old question like you said and especially now with the internet I find it's even harder to turn my work brain off. I take small breaks during the day but end up writing and working until about midnight every night. I love it but I know I need to work on my schedule and budgeting my time! Thanks for this. It's a struggle all of us experience!

    • Jen @ Master the Art of Saving

      Jen @ Master the Art of Saving 08/01/2012 12:02 a.m. #

      Right now, I have no balance. All day long, I'm just doing task after task and feel like I'm going blow up. Thanks for the tips, I'll give them a shot...if I can find the time. LOL :-)

    • Phillips

      Phillips 08/08/2012 9:07 a.m. #

      I am living in SE Asia how is that for hasty decisions? I came here and I did not know 1 person, no one! That was 4 years ago and I have been working in one form or another since my 6th week!

      I have a family now and will be coming home but you don't get much more hasty than that! Although I have gained a ton of confidence and living on the outside looking in has been a trip... I would not suggest that anyone do anything hasty, your advise is spot on!

      Great Article!!!!

    • American Debt Project

      American Debt Project 08/29/2012 7:01 p.m. #

      My whole life has been one hasty/impulsive decision after another!! But in the last two years, I have been a lot less impulsive and now I am trying to find the balance between doing cool, creative things, learning to make money on my own (not from an employer) and improving my finances. It's hard because sometimes I want to say F--- it, I'm quitting and moving to the Caribbean! But I know that I don't have the money to do that the way I want to. So until that day comes, I find my happiness in this journey, and in my progress.

Comments are closed.