Learn more about Steve Smith.
In today’s professional world, employees are being asked to always do more.
This all comes with an immense amount of pressure. Employees find themselves working into the evenings—checking emails in bed, approving invoices, researching new software solutions.
A Lesson in Work Life Balance
As a member of our Esker Board of Directors, the Esker Americas COO, a worldwide traveler and, most importantly, a husband and father, I wear many hats. Over my years, I have established a theory of work life balance, much of it based on some of the poor practices I used early on, and what I’ve learned working for a French company.
I am very fortunate to have a wife who selected one of the most difficult, and yet rewarding, careers–a full-time housewife. Our two boys always had someone there to care for them, take them to their sporting events, attend school functions, and have an adult by their side when they came home. She also does the majority of the housework, and takes care of most of the yard, so in many respects I have it made! This allowed me to put more focus on my career and to be the sole income earner for the family. On the flipside, it also helped create the workaholic in me.
I did my best to be with my kids when I could, but looking back I could have done much better. I love working, and I love my job. For many, going to a beach and relaxing is a slice of heaven. For me, it’s boring. So quite often when I do take time off, I sneak away and check in with work. I justified this because it was my responsibility to provide for my family, yet what I wasn’t seeing was my family wanted more of me than the money I helped provide. I’ve learned that separating the two is crucial, and showing your family they’re more important than your job is imperative.
Working for a company that is headquartered in France has been a great learning experience. There is a misperception in the US that all French people only work 35 hours a week and are on vacation the majority of the time. This simply is not true. The French folks whom I know work just as hard as Americans do. The big difference, however, is that they “Work to Live”, not “Live to Work”. They get away from work during their free time, focus on their families and themselves, and come back refreshed when it is time to work again. This does not make them less committed to their jobs. They simply have a better work life balance.
Achieving Work Life Balance
So, after 52 years of life, with two full grown boys who are now on their own, what can I say I have learned?
- Work to Live! When you’re at work, give it everything you’ve got, but when you punch out at night or take a vacation, focus on what is really important in life – yourself and your family.
- Take advantage of your time off, and pull away from the stress any job can bring. You’re doing your company a favor as well by coming back relaxed and refocused.
- If you have a family, make them your number 1 priority. No job in the world is more important than them. Believe me if you have children, they grow up very fast, and you’ll regret not spending as much time with them as you can.
- Turn the smartphone, tablet or laptop off, and focus on enjoying your free time. If your company cannot survive without you during that time, they clearly have a problem – not you.
So start working to live, and gain the work life balance you desire. If your company is really that good, they’ll not only support you, but they’ll see productivity gains because you’ll have your priorities set properly, and your job focus will be fine-tuned.
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