This article was posted on Wednesday, Nov 01, 2017

It was the second day of [an] Educational Conference, I had an urgent email to respond to but first I needed to complete the research to find the answer to the emailed question.  I was sitting at the bar in the Convention Center and the second breakoff sessions were starting.  I was disappointed I was going to miss the session but duty calls.  The seats on both sides of me are quickly taken by two other attendees that were not going to be able to attend this session.  We struck up a conversation as we were setting up our laptops and looking for outlets to make sure we stayed powered up. 

We were all working each evening, we were all back logged in emails and no matter how many hours we spent catching up, the next morning we would be back logged again.  Each of us was seeking the organization system that was going to solve our problems.  All of us said we worked for companies that supported and encouraged a “Work/Life Balance”.  So why didn’t anyone of us have the work/life balance we wanted?  Why were all of us needing to miss this session to respond to work.

Despite a plethora of apps, corporate initiatives, and advice, it’s never been harder to achieve a work-life balance. According to its latest survey of nearly 9,700 full-time workers, EY,(the global assurance, tax, transaction, and advisory services firm), found that one-third of employees report that managing their personal and professional lives has become more difficult.

The reasons aren’t surprising. Challenges such as sluggish wage increases coupled with the rising cost of living are hitting one group the hardest. Some U.S. millennials moving into management and becoming parents before the age of 30 are facing increased responsibility. That translates to more time spent at work. Around the world, an estimated 50% of managers said they work more than 40 hours per week, and four in 10 say the hours they put on the clock have increased in the last five years.

Judging by the results of the survey, the traditional 40-hour workweek is becoming obsolete. Management has seen a significant increase in hours, with 64% reporting working two to four hours more a week and one-third (36%) logging an extra five hours or more.

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In the multi-family housing industry, it is the customer and client expectations coupled with the mobility of technology that is making a balance hard to find.  Most studies have shown that a quick response to an inquiry can make a big difference in a person’s buying decision.  In addition, a quick response can give a client the sense that you are making them the priority.

It is very easy to just respond from your cell phone or to just open your laptop and send out a quick report.  However, it is not easy to only respond to one.  The expectation for yourself, your customer and client has just been set.  Before you know it, you are skipping your education session to meet these expectations.

“In our digitally driven world, it’s imperative to maintain a work-life balance,” Jackie Stone, CMO of MiMedia, a personal cloud storage company, told Business News Daily. “I’ve worked in digital media for more than 20 years and as we become more connected, more people have decided that staying ‘on’ 24/7 is socially acceptable — and it’s not.” People need time to think, relax and give themselves a break: Otherwise, productivity will decrease, she added.

So, what can we do?  How can we set boundaries without compromising these relationships?  In scouring the internet for how to find this utopia, I found a September 19, 2016, Business News Daily article that gave me hope. Here are six actionable ways to help you adjust your attitude and feel more in control right now.

Recognize the Role of Work

Work plays a significant part in life. It keeps the lights on, pays the mortgage, makes the car payment, funds retirement and permits yearly vacations. Adopting the right mind-set allows you to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of your labor rather than making your job seem like endless drudgery.

Don’t Be Afraid to Unplug 

We live in a connected world that never sleeps. Turning off from the outside world provides time to recover from weekly stress.

“It also gives us space to let other thoughts and ideas surface. When you are always on, you don’t allow other things to surface that might be more important,” Stone said. “I meditate each morning for 10 minutes, which provides me with a great start to my day.”

Create (and Stick to) a Daily Routine

Like maintaining a calendar, implementing a strong daily routine will help keep you on track to achieve the balance you want. According to Lewis Howes, entrepreneur and author of The School of Greatness, (Rodale Books, 2015), setting strong habits, such as sleeping 8 hours, avoiding checking your email for the first couple hours of the day, getting outside daily, and taking time to eat right and work out, will make you healthier and happier.

“It will absolutely reflect in your mental clarity, emotional capacity, relationships and creativity,” Howes said. “Those are the traits that make up the greatest leaders and most successful people.”

Make Time for Yourself

While being good at your job is important, it shouldn’t be your entire life. You were an individual before taking this position and you should prioritize those activities or hobbies that made you happy.

“Whether you take a walk in the park, get a massage or take a hot bath, it’s important to always set aside an hour a week to do something for yourself,” said Mark Feldman, vice president of marketing at Seven Step RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing).

When [we] hire, we ask about [details like] books being read by the applicant. It shows that they have interests outside of work life.

Tatum suggests reading, traveling and fostering hobbies that have nothing to do with your career.

Take Your Vacation!

Sometimes making time for yourself means taking a vacation and shutting work completely off.

“A vacation could be a 15-minute walk around the block without looking at your phone, or a vacation could be two or three weeks traveling with family/friends,” Stone said. “It’s important to take a step back to physically and mentally recharge. If you are surrounded by good people at work, a vacation should be easy to take.”

Be Present, Consistent and Accountable

Being present requires you to be attentive at home, at work and during free time, Woods said. Where you spend your time and energy has a direct connection to how successful you are in achieving work-life balance.

“It’s so easy to get caught up working, but it’s so important to spend time with family, friends or other people who bring joy into our lives,” Stone said. “Though it might not seem obvious at first, the memories that we create while spending time with those we love help spark new ideas, and ways of thinking.”


Misti McElwee is a Regional Property Manager for Greystar in the Raleigh Durham area of North Carolina. Reprinted with permission of Multifamily Insiders.