Mentors on Creating a Sustainable Work- life Balance

By EverwiseNovember 9, 2017

Everwise fosters one of the largest networks of professional mentors online, who regularly share their insights on work experiences and challenges. To better understand the lives our mentor community brings to their partnerships, we developed a poll series we’ve been sharing over the past few months.

Going to work has become more than a place we spend our days, so we dug further into our communities’ professional development goals. However, staying on track with your career goals can be difficult when distractions run high, so we explored our mentor communities’ approaches on how they manage their time at both work and after leaving the office.

Priorities for Professional Development

Work is more than simply a method to pay the bills. It can provide a sense of fulfillment in our lives. A recent survey by Imperative reveals that 74% of people desire a job where they feel like their work matters. To add some color to this number, our mentor community answered a few questions on what professional development means to them. Their top three priorities: acting as a leader in the organization, supporting those who report to them, and making an impact with their work.

46% of Everwise Mentors highlighted making an impact as crucial for professional development. Understanding “impact” can be a vague concept, but our mentors shared details about what this means to them. Diwakar Venkata, says that his work defines him, and he showcases it with two approaches – managing people efficiently and creating the best possible deliverables for his customers. However, Jane Cook sees it differently, “It’s about what excites me, motivates me, gives me something new and enriching to chew on.”

Kent Gladstone finds that supporting those who report to you impact’s goal potential, leadership capabilities, and overall work productivity. This resonated with other mentors. Dr. Jim Sass said that “being able to positively influence an individual or team is what makes me happy.” Nils Ferm agreed, “The best bosses I’ve had have prioritized the development of others. It’s the best way to learn new things, develop a network of people who view you favorably, build a loyal and motivated workforce and lead by creating other leaders. Making an impact with your own direct reports is, in my opinion, the best way to achieve all of the above desired goals.”

Managing Stress

It’s not always easy to stay on track with your own professional development, especially when there’s a lot going on at work. This can lead to overwhelming stress, which disrupts productivity. Managing stressful times is critical to remaining productive, so our mentors offered some approaches for managing conflict in the workplace and planning for a busy week.

Conflict Management

When conflict arises, our automatic physiological reaction reverts to the “fight” or “flight” mode. This can happen in seconds, and it’s human nature to want to immediately defend our ground and fight or turn away from the conflict entirely and flee. The majority of our mentors echo this as 62% believe it is necessary to address issues head on, whether immediately or at a scheduled time for discussion; while only 5% opt for avoiding the conflict entirely.

Lino Fonseca suggests an approach to handling uncomfortable situations: “Conflict usually arises due to either mismatched expectations of the parties involved or different perspective of a similar issue. Before trying to resolve a conflict between more than one party, one needs to understand their perspective of the issue. Only then can one successfully address the reason for the conflict.”

Another mentor shared that although they prefer to address the issue immediately, sometimes, it is more necessary thoroughly understand the issue, then address it in more detail with the correct action.

There is a general consensus from Everwise mentors to want to address the issue by first evaluating the situation, then setting time to discuss the problem with all parties involved.

Time Management

It is necessary to have a good work life balance to perform well in the workplace, but how do you do this when you’re swimming in never ending tasks and assignments with tight deadlines?

Eighty-two percent of the Everwise community emphasize the importance of prioritizing your tasks. Mentors shared that they do this is by:

  • Reevaluating the importance of tasks

“Prioritization is not about the order or priority in which you will do everything, but rather what you will and will not do,” according to Gerson Montenegro.

  • Categorizing tasks

Noe Salinas has a two part agenda to manage her time: communications and action items. She explains, “Communications is a list of people that I need to contact to advance projects. Action items are the deliverables I need to produce. I typically work on deliverables after I have completed communications because that is my mental and physical rhythm. You will need to learn what yours is.”

  • Setting some tasks aside

If the task at hand isn’t time critical in the moment, perhaps put it aside for the time being. Kim Bolton believes that if something keeps falling off the list, it is sometimes because it isn’t really critical.

  • Staying organized

Mentor Adam Nichols does this by using the MIT (Most Important Tasks) principle: “I begin by writing down the 3 most important things that need to be done for the day. Sticking to an agenda verbatim is always tricky as the reality and priorities change but it is important to know what you are trying to accomplish. Most of my agendas tie back to team goals and thus my MIT’s and vice versa, so when giving updates I know my teams and I are working on impactful business goals rather than menial tasks.”

Finding Balance

Perhaps the best way to manage stress is knowing when to take a break from everything going on. To dig further into this, we asked our community how they unwind after a long day. Almost 50% of the community like to spend time with friends or families. Others shared they appreciate passive activities such as watching a movie, reading a book, listening to music or podcasts, or meditating. On the other hand, some mentors enjoy a more active way of de-stressing, for instance, going to the gym, taking a walk, or even continuing to invest in their professional development like taking online courses.

It’s evident that a good work life balance increases overall productivity. The Corporate Executive Board, revealed that employees who have a good work-life balance perform better than 21% than those who don’t. Creating the right workplace environment where conflict and stress is properly managed can go along way in helping individuals reach their full professional development.

If you have insights on creating a sustainable and productive work life balance, join our mentor community!



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