As accountants, often we find it difficult to keep our work from taking over our lives. Through the years I have discovered numerous ways of balancing my work and personal life that enable me to be successful at both. Here are five tips to help you along:
1. Adjust your definition of work/life balance. Most people believe finding work/life balance means having to balance work and life every day. For example, if you don’t leave by 5pm, you will not have enough time to spend with your family or to workout. There will be times when you have a big project and need to work longer hours. Or you may go on vacation and not work at all. Instead of trying to achieve balance daily, shoot for balance over time.
2. Use technology wisely. Your BlackBerryTM and laptop can be your best friends or your worst enemies. The key is to know when to use them and when to turn them off. Technology allows you the flexibility to do work from anywhere, not just in the office. This is wonderful if you have a child who is sick at home or you still want to keep an eye on your email while getting your oil changed. On the other end of the spectrum, checking your email while at the dinner table doesn’t allow you to relax and enjoy other aspects of your life. Use these tools to your benefit, but don’t over-use them.
3. Make realistic deadlines. Make sure that you weigh your tasks in terms of priority and set your deadlines accordingly. Many of us create extra stress by trying to accomplish everything in one day. Contrary to what we believe, there are tasks that can wait and be carried over to the next day.
4. Create your own definition of success. If being successful to you means climbing the corporate ladder, then working 60-plus hours a week may not seem so bad. If you don’t plan on being a CFO one day, then working overtime may seem meaningless. To keep from wearing yourself out and doing things that will not benefit you in the long run, you have to have a defined goal. What are you working toward? Don’t let the world tell you what success should be. You decide, and be happy with it.
5. Explore other ways of applying your skills. I never played soccer as a child, but as an adult I became a soccer referee. The leadership traits I exhibit at work also apply to my job as a referee. The time I spend on the soccer field allows me to forget the daily stresses of work, but still put my leadership skills to use.
William “Bill” Schneider is Director of Accounting of Corporate Accounting Policy at AT&T. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1988 with a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Accountancy. Bill serves as the AICPA representative on the COSO Advisory Council and recently was recognized by the GSCPA as its 2011 Outstanding Member in Industry for his contributions to his employer, the profession and the community.