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A Simple Tool to Improve Your Work/Life Balance

Our last post shared how to prioritize and plan based on your key roles. Focusing on all your roles – as a parent, partner, relative, friend, employee, volunteer, etc. – is one way to help you improve your work/life balance. Despite some recent articles and memes about “quiet quitting,” improving your work/life balance is NOT the same thing as quiet quitting.

We’ll describe the idea of “quiet quitting” that has recently become mainstream and share a simple tool you can use to prioritize your life and also improve your work/life balance.

The Quiet Quitting Meme

A person working at a computer in an office setting.

Quiet Quitting” refers to doing your job without going above and beyond – doing the bare minimum but no more. This has likely become possible only in the past year as many US employers have struggled to fill their open positions. I have personally spoken with several business owners who have had employees fail to follow core values or meet expectations (and in one case outright lie) but decided not to fire the employee because of fears that they would be unable to rehire anyone better.

Why is just doing your job and not going above and beyond a problem? You are doing your job after all – showing up on time and completing your work – and if you are working in a job without a clear path to advancement this may actually be a smart strategy. You may be surprised at our input to the Personal Kaizen community.

When “Quiet Quitting” Makes Sense and When it Doesn’t

Here are some reasons you certainly don’t want to be quiet quitting:

Two pieces of paper showing a resume and company growth.
  • You are in a job that leverages your natural strengths and is allowing you to grow.
  • You work for a company that will provide you with options for advancement. You should be able to identify a path to being in the position you want in the next 5-10 years.
  • Your compensation is based on your results, or you have a bonus, profit-sharing, or some other compensation tied to the results of the organization.

Here is when finding a new job makes the most sense:

  • You are not committed to the company or position or do not see future opportunities for growth. Look for something better!
  • Your position doesn’t leverage any of your natural strengths. Find a new job doing something you enjoy and are also good at!
  • The job only makes sense because it fits your current schedule, living arrangements, etc. Again, find a better job.

Finally, here are a few times when quiet quitting (not going above and beyond) may make sense:

A person multitasking by using both a laptop and a tablet. Working while completing other work.
  • Your job leverages your strengths but there is little growth in your position and your compensation is not based on results.
  • Your 9-5 job allows you to moonlight in a second position. Hopefully, one that meets the criteria for a job you would not want to quit.
  • Your job allows you to also work on something else at the same time! Unfortunately, too many jobs still exist that may allow you to earn income while you work on something else. I had a receptionist help me last week and then return to her game of solitaire. Learn a new skill or complete other work instead!

Improve Your Work/Life Balance

What about when you are in a good job for a good company that rewards your extra effort? These positions often encourage us to spend too much time working and not enough time at home. Here is a simple tool you can use to improve your work/life balance in these cases.

First, identify where you currently spend your time at work and in life. How many hours are you spending doing the work? Developing yourself or growing in some way? How much time is travel? How much time in your roles at home and outside of life?

Then, identify how you would like to spend your time in the coming year.

Finally, how would you ideally like to spend your time? Here is a simple table you can complete (with a few examples added):

Work/Life ResponsibilityCurrent: Hours/WeekNext Year: Hours/WeekIdeal: Hours/Week
Customer projects202224
Required meetings at work864
Training at work024
Other work projects12108
Commuting to work1084*
Meal prep/Eating3 hours/day3 hours/day3 hours/day
Sleeping7 hours/day7 hours/day8 hours/day
Family Time1 hour/day2 hours/day3 hours/day
Home Projects553
Hobby224
Watching TV1.5 hours/day1 hour/day3 hours/week

* Changes include working from home to reduce commute time, more training and ending a meeting, more family time and sleep, and less TV time.

Ideas for Action

A picture of a journal for notes covered with dice that spell out change and chance.

Begin by identifying how you feel about your current job from the options presented when considering “quiet quitting.” What changes do you want to make in your career?

Assuming you have stability in your current job, complete the table above with your current hours, desired changes for next year, and ideal hours to spend on each essential task or role in your life. Identify at least three but no more than five changes you will make over the coming year to improve your work/life balance.

Please add your thoughts on quiet quitting and ways to improve your work/life balance in the comments below.

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