Five Tips for Effective Work Life Balance

Having it all takes focus

By Stephane McShane, Director, Maxim Consulting Group, LLP

One truth that I have discovered over my decades-long career in this industry: This business will take up every spare moment that you feed it. It will devour those seconds, minutes and hours at an insatiable pace. You look up at the clock from your crazy day only to discover that it is 7 p.m. and you still haven’t left the office.

The key to work life balance stems from a focus on what to do, when to do it and how to do it.  Here are five tips to keep you moving in a positive direction.

  1. Know your current life balance needs. The truth is, this balance changes all of the time, driven by factors that, by their very nature, are fluid. Kids, marriage, relationships, work opportunities, leadership changes, market changes, etc. are all stimuli that may influence what this balance looks like to you in its current state. Solicit input from your spouse or significant other and empower them to share their joys and frustrations about this balance with you. 
  2. Identify and eliminate time wasters. We all spend time at work on items that are unnecessary.  For example, if a vendor salesman walks in and wishes to chat with you about the weather, or a job that hasn’t become “real” yet, he is wasting your time. Think of it this way, if you allow him to waste 30 minutes of your time, who is really going to pay for that? Pay for in the emotional and time sense, that is. You are. When the end of the day rolls around and you were wishing you had another half hour to finish what you’re doing, remember who you allowed to take it away from you. Or, if you stay even later to get that item done, now who is paying the price for that salesman’s waste of time? Your spouse, significant other, children, friends or yourself. 
  3. Create a buffer between work and home. Ensure a smooth transition into home life at the end of the day by creating a barrier or buffer. This could be done during your drive home where you listen to music and take the time to decompress. Perhaps taking a few moments when you arrive home to immediately immerse yourself into your child’s world by engaging with them about their day or playing with them would work for you. The same can be said with a spouse or significant other. Remember that any stress or negative energy you are bringing from the office has NOTHING to do with them, nor do they deserve to be affected by it. Enjoy your time at home with them. Time is precious and flies by far too quickly to spend it arguing or angry. Being positive to the ones you love is a learned behavior that will quickly become a great habit if done consistently. Whatever that buffer is, make it a positive space — something you can pour your mind and heart into temporarily, to help you bridge your two very separate worlds.
  4. Plan your at-work time for your off-work time. In the construction industry, we expect our field staff to plan their work effectively in order to eliminate down time and to reduce rework. The exact same applies to anyone else. Plan your work so that it is done in the right priority, and at the right time of day. By this I mean, prioritize your tasks so that you know what must be accomplished and in what order. Then, plan the activities to correlate complexity of the task with your energy level. Said differently, plan to do the most difficult tasks you have to do during the time of day that you have the highest energy. Plan the easiest items at the time of day where you are at a low energy point. As elementary as this sounds, it flies in the face of what we want to do as human beings. We want to do the easy items when we are energetic and feeling good.  However, if we do that, then the difficult things take exponentially longer to do, if they get completed at all. 
  5. Celebrate successes at work AND at home. We tend to point out the negative in our work lives in construction very quickly, but are very slow to recognize success. Take the time to ensure that you celebrate your work accomplishments, remembering that success is a journey. Additionally, make sure that you take the time to celebrate the wins in your home life as well. Goal setting is an amazing way to identify and make actionable goals centered around personal, relational, spiritual, physical, material and financial targets. Take those three to five-year goals and break them down into items you must accomplish each year, then take those yearly goals and break them down into items you must do monthly or weekly. Find a mentor you truly respect to discuss these with and have them hold you accountable for results. 

Understand that work life balance looks different to each and every person, and it changes continually.  That said, ensure that you are spending time on what matters to you. Many executive coaching clients have expressed the common regret of losing touch with their families during the building of their careers. Be efficient, plan well, prioritize and work on what matters. And, by all means, stop and smell the roses once in awhile to celebrate your accomplishments. Your career is what you do to provide for your life. Your career is not your entire life. The great news is that you control exactly what this looks like. 

Stephane McShane is the instructor for Winnipeg Construction Association’s Project Management Skills Academy. As a Director at Maxim Consulting Group, Mrs. McShane works with construction related firms of all sizes to evaluate business practices and assist with management challenges. With a large depth of experience working in the construction industry, Stephane is keenly aware of the business and, most specifically, operational challenges that firms face. Her areas of expertise include: Leadership development, executive coaching, organizational assessments, strategic planning, project execution, business development, productivity improvement and training programs. Mrs. McShane is an internationally recognized speaker, mentor, author and teacher. Her ability to motivate, inspire and create confidence among work groups is extremely rare and very effective.

Read more of Stephane’s insights on her blog at

Learn more about Maxim Consulting Group at

This article originally appeared in the Vol. 1 issue of Build Manitoba magazine, available at