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Did you know that in the early 1900s, only 6% of married women worked outside the home? It wasn’t until the First World War that women joined the workforce in masses, only because men were needed in the armed forces. Fast forward to a century later, women today represent 58.4% of the workforce and 35% of senior leadership positions. Over that century, women have had to work twice as hard to succeed in the workplace.
Growing up, I was taught that working hard was the only way to get ahead. For some time, all I was focused on was work, work, work. There was no time to unplug or disconnect. Work-life balance did not exist. If I wanted to succeed, I had to give every ounce of myself to my career. I never stopped thinking that I could get ahead while still having a life.
Nowadays, women are putting their time into more than just work. They are prioritizing not only their careers but also their families and hobbies. Nearly two-thirds of respondents of a survey of women under 30 said they would be more eager to advance in their careers if they saw senior leaders with the work-life balance they desired. It’s not about choosing one or the other but finding the right balance for each of us. So how can you achieve the perfect balance without sacrificing your financial goals?
1. Budget your time
Successful time management leads to more productivity, less stress and more success. Time management is something I have spent my life perfecting and continue to do so. By managing your time effectively, you can work towards your goals, have time for yourself and enjoy the things you like without losing track of your priorities.
Start by creating a daily schedule. Include all things work and personal. A visual representation of your day helps you avoid wandering into other projects. Learn to prioritize and set time limits. Some things can’t be left for the next day, so make sure they are at the top of your to-do list. When necessary, make sure to mute notifications on your phone and computer so you can ensure that you’re not getting distracted. Schedule any casual meetings or touch bases during your commute to ensure that you’re maximizing your time.
Finally, and probably the most challenging thing for me is making time to unplug and actually doing it! A lot of the time, we go to watch TV or spend time with our family, and we aren’t fully present because our mind is still at work. A part of work-life balance is learning when to shut down your working brain. I find that when I can manage my time efficiently, I can unplug at the end of the day because I got everything I had to when I planned to. Adding children and partner time to the schedule is not bad since it shows you are prioritizing them!
2. Budget your finances
We all have financial milestones we hope to achieve. It might be paying off your student loans, buying a home or saving for retirement. Whatever your goals, you don’t have to make millions to achieve them. It’s not necessarily about how much you make but how disciplined you are with your budget. According to PYMNTS.com, roughly 45% of people making more than $100,000 say they live paycheck to paycheck, 47% of those making between $150,000 and $200,000, and 28% of those making over $200,000 are also living paycheck to paycheck.
Unfortunately, thanks to inflation and the rising cost of goods, our money doesn’t go as far as it used to. To ensure that you’re living within your means, starting by building a budget is critical. Having a visual budget will also help you see where your money is going and where you should cut back on or invest more. Your budget is never set in stone, so adjust when needed. Once you have an initial plan that works for you, stick with it. Implementing automatic withdrawals from your paycheck will help you save without even noticing.
It’s essential not just to save your money but to grow it. Not comfortable with investing? Find a financial advisor to help you start or learn about it yourself. Schedule some time in your day to further your knowledge. Often, people miss out on the opportunity to invest because they fear it may be too “risky.” But it is only a significant risk if we don’t understand it.
When you take the time to educate yourself on it, you can make informed decisions reducing the risk involved. So, read a book, listen to a podcast or subscribe to a publication – there are plenty of resources out there.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to invest your money and achieve financial freedom. After all, financial freedom means you’ll be able to spend more of your time deciding what to do instead of feeling burdened by any obligations to stay in a job you aren’t enjoying.
The days when women had to choose between their careers and family are long gone. While it won’t be easy, you can have the best of both worlds. Achieving the perfect work-life balance while still working towards financial freedom is possible with the right amount of discipline.