Work Family Balance

Spring break for most…just another week for us software sellers.  Really tough to unplug, ain’t it?  When you live in a sea of low locus of control, it makes you want to work more to over-compensate.  Control the uncontrollable.  And…who pays the piper?  Your family.  My advice?  Cut it out.  Seriously.  Take the vacation.

Having managed for many years, I have found there are 2 kinds of sellers.  Ones that don’t take vacations…and ones that take every vacation day they can.  Very few sellers I’ve run in to know how to balance this well.  I’m not advocating you take every vacation day you can, but your goal is to find a healthy balance.  I remember years ago, one of my reps took a vacation at the end of Q4, and he left me with the turds of managing a 2-comma deal.  Not good.  This was one of the many factors that ultimately cost him his job.  Take vacation, but be smart about it – sometimes this means you’ll pay higher prices for vacations for booking last minute.

In addition to the grind, there’s a psychological dynamic at play that adds to our burden of work family balance  – working from home.  This is my devil.  Being home doesn’t mean I’m home.  And, it’s taken me years to understand the negative impact of walking out of my office to the dinner table and still being “at work.”  Here are 3 ways I’ve learned to properly manage the work/life balance in a healthy way:

  1. Know that you’re in a higher than normal stress environment. Half the problem is realizing you have a problem.  I remember years ago I was having symptoms that required me to have my heart checked.  When my Dr. asked me about my stress level, I told him my stress level is average.  That wasn’t true, but I wasn’t intentionally lying to him.  I just wasn’t aware.  Drop a frog in a boiling pot and he’ll go crazy.  Set him in a pot and slowly build up to boiling, and he’ll ask you for a drink and a massage.  Turns out, 100% of my heart symptoms were stress-induced.  Understand the impact of our profession, and this will be a great first step in solving your problem.
  2. Give yourself permission to take-off and give someone else the decision-making authority to decide when. It’s tough to know thyself, so I personally rely on my wife to tell me when it’s time to take a day or 2 off.  Get yourself a partner who knows you well and take their advice when they see your stressors going through the roof.  Putting someone else in charge of your personal calendar can be a great way to give yourself permission to leave and unwind.
  3. If you work from home, set a specific trigger that transitions you from work to home. For me, it’s dinner.  I’m not saying I’ve perfected this, but that identifier helps my family and I know that I’m supposed to be home.

Work-life balance is tough – especially in our gig.  Be purposeful with your time off.  Do it and you’ll be more successful over the long-haul.  What works for you?

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