Balancing My Work and Personal Life
Jeff Dowler challenged us to describe the balance between work and life. I read his challenge as soon as it was posted but I'm just now posting my response...one day before the deadline. Why? Because I have balance!
What's the big deal?
Many of us fail to balance work with our personal life. This is particularly true for those of us with young children at home. My problem is that I actually enjoy working! In fact, I plan on working until I'm no longer able. The last time I checked, God's retirement plan involves six feet of dirt and a tombstone, not reaching a particular age or net worth.
There is such a thing as "over-working" and we should be careful to not neglect other areas of life like family, friends, hobbies, fitness, mental wellness, or spiritual health. I'm a slow learner so it took about 18 years in the military before I figured this out. Before I realized it, I had spent most of my career going to work early, working through lunch, leaving late, volunteering for additional work or deployments, and more.
I finally got control of it for my final few years. I continued working hard, but I scaled back and had more time for family and personal things.
When I started in real estate, my old nature took over again and things got out of control with early mornings, late nights, working weekends and holidays. It made sense because I was a one-man Property Management office and had noone to back me up. It wasn't long before I realized I had to get things under control...fast!
The first problem to solve was getting rid of all my "busy" work. I hired an office manager that could handle the routine, mundane tasks eating up a large portion of my time. She screened calls, kept me on schedule, filed, accepted rent payments, prepared documents, and more. It literally freed up 1/3 of my day and took a lot of the pressure off.
I put policies in place and "trained" my owners and tenants that we worked regular office hours and then I stuck to it. If they called or emailed me on nights or weekends, I wouldn't respond until the next business day. If they complained, I reminded them that I am available 45 hours of the week but need the remaining time for family and myself.
Unfortunately, one assistant wasn't enough. I needed someone that was licensed and could essentially replace me for longer periods of time. I built my office manager up over a period of time, got her licensed and then promoted her to Property Management and hired a new person to handle office duties. It worked!
With a licensed, experienced Property Manager in place, I can comfortably disappear for a couple weeks at a time, knowing everything is in good hands at the office.
There's still more to do. Ideally, I want two licensed Property Managers and an office manager. With three of us working on management, our workloads are reduced and we can really excel. If one of us becomes ill or takes vacation, the other two can handle everything until they return.
Why does it matter?
Now that my work is balanced out, I'm free to focus on my personal life. Specifically:
- I wake up early in the morning, usually two hours before everyone else, to enjoy the quiet. I read the Bible, pray, and usually have time to hang out on Activerain before my day gets busy.
- My wife and I are able to eat lunch together away from the office.
- I'm able to attend ALL of the activities for my kids, even during the work day.
- Camping trips and vacations are never out of the question!
- I have security in knowing things will be handled if I ever have an emergency.
I feel like we've hit a real balance at work, which bleeds over into my personal life. It's a good place to be and I continue seeking ways to refine things and maintain the balance. It's difficult at first, but worth every bit of effort!