How IT Managers Deal With Work / Life Balance Issues

IT managers need to find a way to do both
IT managers need to find a way to do both
Image Credit: Ashley Diener Follow

Quick question for you: what’s more important in your life right now – your job or your home life? You have to pick one. Your gut probably tells you to pick “home life”, but if we took a look at where you’ve been spending your time, would that support that pick? If you are like a lot of IT managers when things get busy at work, you end up spending a great deal of your time in the office. When this happens something has to give, and more often than not what gives is your home life. How big of a problem is this?

The Cost Of Spending Too Much Time At The Office

There is a cost associated with everything that we do. When we spend more time at the office, we believe that we are doing what our IT manager training has taught us to do and providing our company with extra value and we are helping our teams to be successful. However, as with all such things in life, spending more time at the office has a price that is associated with it. All too often we are so focused on the tasks that we are working on that we don’t take the time to think about what this extra time at work might be costing us.

The fancy term for what spending more time at work costs us is something that is called “opportunity cost”. When you find yourself spending more and more time at the office, your opportunity cost is your personal time. If you are married or in a relationship, this means that you’ll have less time for your partner. If you are a parent, then you’re going to have less time to both spend with your children and to attend their after school activities such as parent-teacher meetings, sporting events, plays, etc.

What a lot of us don’t realize as we spend ever increasing amounts of time at work is that we are never going to be able to get this time back. The reason that we’re spending this time at work is because we want our career to advance. We’ve all heard the phrase that people who take vacations must not want to get promoted and all too often we start to believe things like this. If we are not careful, we’re going to end up just a bit further down the road when we have the realization that we’ve missed out on some of life’s most special memories because we chose to spend our time working at the office.

How To Balance Your Life

If we can understand that working too much is probably not a good thing for us, then what can we do to stop ourselves from making this mistake? When that big project deadline is looming or when an important person asks us to do something, it can be all too easy to choose work over our home life. We can fit our personal life into our very busy schedules, but it’s going to take some work on our part.

One thought that may not have occurred to you is that as an IT manager, you are the one who is setting an example for the rest of your team. If they see you at the office all of the time, then they may be tempted to do the same. Likewise, if they see you arriving at a reasonable time and not staying too late, then they will probably adopt the same behavior. Forget any IT team building, this is what is really important. As a manager you have a responsibility to set the standard for your team and making sure that they are able to balance their work and home lives is part of this responsibility.

Ensuring that you’ll take the time off from work that your personal life will require is not easy to do. You can become engrossed in what you are doing and forget to take a break. You are going to have to change your habits in order to ensure that you can maintain a healthy balance. One way to do this is to schedule personal time in the same way that you schedule your work events – put them on your calendar. Another way is to reward yourself with “points” for spending time doing personal things and every so often take a look at how many points you’ve acquired in order to ensure that you are taking enough time off to keep your personal life in balance.

What All Of This Means For You

We really only get once chance at this life to get things right. What that means for IT managers is that we need to be very careful when it comes to deciding how we want to be spending our time. We need to choose between spending more time at work or spending more time with our personal life.

It can be very easy to make the wrong decision. The opportunity cost associated with spending more time at work can never be reclaimed. The more time that you spend at the office, the less time you’ll have to spend on your personal life. You need to realize that you are the one who is setting an example for your team by showing them how to balance their work and personal lives. In order to get a better balance in our lives, we can schedule our personal time like we schedule our work events using our calendar. We can also go as far as rewarding ourselves with points for spending time on our personal life and then checking every so often to ensure that we are acquiring enough points.

Finding a way to balance your work and personal lives is something that none of us were ever provided with any IT manager skills on how to deal with. We now need to realize that this is something important and we need to take the time to find a way to make it happen. You’ll never be able to get this time back and so it’s going to be up to you to find a way to get the two different parts of your life to live in harmony.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: If you find yourself spending too much time at work, what can you do to get a better balance in your life?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As an IT manager, your goal is to be able to use your IT manager skills to lead a team of professionals in such a way that the team is able to successfully accomplish tasks for the company. Every day when you come to work, your goal is to find ways to employ your IT manager training to motivate your team to accomplish even more than they were able to accomplish yesterday. All of this motivation stuff brings up a very important question. In order to get your team to do what you want them to do, do they have to like you?