How to Achieve Good Work-Family Symmetry

Mark Koschmeder
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Technology has turned modern society into an "always on" culture. When you combine that with the ever-increasing demands of employers, achieving a healthy balance between work life and family time can seem like an impossible dream. However, with a little creative thought and a lot of discipline, you can establish a harmonious balance between obligations at work and home.

  1. Prioritize: One mistake many people make is trying to do it all. Unfortunately, the stress from juggling too many obligations can reduce productivity and personal effectiveness, negatively impacting your quality of life and leading to burnout. A healthy home- and work-life balance requires taking a hard look at your activities and focusing your energies on the ones most important to you. For example, attending all of your child's soccer games may mean declining to join a special project at work.
  1. Work from home: Many companies are taking advantage of advancements in technology and allowing staff members to work from home. It may be advantageous for you to telecommute a few days a week. Without the distractions inherent in the work environment, you are likely to get more done. Additionally, working from home will provide you the flexibility to be available when your family needs you.
  1. Unplug: To prevent your work life from interfering with your family time, turn off your smartphone and laptop when you get home. If this isn't possible, designate a time when you are not available (for example, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and make sure your employer knows this. Not only will this allow you to be fully present in your home life, but you'll be able to completely relax, knowing you won't be interrupted by an unwanted call from work.
  1. Learn to delegate: This applies equally to your home and work life. Learning how to delegate work can help keep your inbox at a manageable level. Even if you don't have an army of assistants at your disposal, you can still minimize demands on your time by making sure your colleagues have all the information they need to complete their work. At home, divide the housework among all the family members, particularly adolescents. This will instill a sense of responsibility in teens while allowing you to focus on other things.
  1. Improve and maintain your health: It's hard to keep up with everything going on in your personal and work life if you are constantly fatigued or struggling with a medical condition. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can improve mental functioning, increase stamina, and alleviate conditions such as chronic tiredness.

Creating an optimal home and work life balance allows you to make positive contributions to your job, family, and community while letting you enjoy the fruits of your labor. This can result in reduced job burnout and a better quality of life for you and your family.

(photo courtesy of Stuart Miles /


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