I sat at the dinner table quietly seething with rage. The first time my husband and I were able to eat together in a week, and there he sat, the chicken getting cold and the white wine getting warm, mid anecdote, as he answered a “quick” work email on his iPhone.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.
“Can’t this wait until after dinner? Plus, it’s after hours! You can answer it later! Don’t you think you’re being…”
It was my own phone ringing, indicating I had a message.
“Go on, answer the email,” my husband laughed.
I tried to resist. I was, after all, in the middle of proving a very important point. But my eyes were already drifting to the screen. I couldn’t stop myself. I had to answer that email.
Nowadays, people are working longer and longer hours. According to a 2014 Gallup study, American full-time employees are working an average of 47 hours a week. And that’s in the office. With the proliferation of laptops and tablets and smart phones, the day doesn’t end for many after they leave the office. A 2016 study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 percent of people also do some work at home.
It’s been said many times that it’s important to keep a work/life balance. If you can’t separate yourself once in awhile, it could lead to poor job satisfaction, and could even take a toll on your health. And as a very wise man once said, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
But how, in this day and age, is that even possible? Especially as a property manager? When residents need help, or if something goes wrong at the facilities, it needs to be taken care of right away.
After all, an exploding toilet doesn’t care if you have dinner reservations. I think Shakespeare first said that.
Anyway, how can you keep a work/life balance when your work needs to follow you? Here are some suggestions.
Be quick and efficient. After hours, if you do have to answer an email or a work call, make it fast, if possible. Don’t belabor anything, and then get back to what you were doing.
Prioritize. Is this an emergency? If a treadmill at the community gym isn’t working, that can probably be dealt with in the morning. Don’t give up your precious free time to put out fires if it’s not necessary. But if it’s an actual fire, then you should probably take care of it right away.
Trust your staff. You hired your employees for a reason, and they should be able to deal with a lot of the problems themselves. Just because you’re cc-ed on an email doesn’t mean you need to reply—they can probably handle it.
Set aside time at home where you won’t check your emails. It’s literally impossible not to check your phone at home. No. Wait. Not literally. Let’s just say it’s really, really hard. But you can make some ground rules while you’re at home about when you’re going to check work emails. Maybe you’ll allow yourself while you’re relaxing around the house, but you won’t check while you’re reading to your kids. Or while you’re at the gym. Or while you’re having dinner. (Ahem.)
How do you maintain a work/life balance? (Are you able to?) We’d love to hear your thoughts! Post your comments on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @MHNOnline or @jfiur. (Just don’t post them after work hours. Kidding! Sort of.)