Maintaining Work-life Balance in Starting a New Job
The stress of transitioning to a new position doesn't end after your first week at a new job. Your first three to six months are a proving ground, where you're getting to know the culture, your new assignments, and most of all your new colleagues. While you're working to make a solid first impression, you may struggle to juggle your work and home lives, but there are ways to start a new job without back-seating family. Doing so simply takes some prioritization.
Set boundaries from day one
First impressions are easily made but hard to change, which is why you want to establish your work boundaries from the start. You might be tempted to be the "perfect" employee who is always available and quick to respond to emails and instant messages on nights and weekends, but in the long run, that can backfire. It's hard to change your behavior once you've set a pattern, so set boundaries from day one. For instance, if you plan to devote your evenings fully to your spouse and children, start doing so from the beginning. If you don't intend to always respond to emails from the sidelines of a soccer game, don't do so initially just because you're a new employee.
Be professionally transparent
While it's important to keep personal drama out of the workplace, you also don't need to hide your family situation. Let your supervisors and coworkers know about the important people in life—your partner, your children, your aging parents whom you support. Today's employers are more committed to supporting the "whole person," and by letting your new team know about the responsibilities you have in your life, you'll have more buy-in when conflicts and commitments arise.
Set work-from-home boundaries
It's safe to say many of us have gotten into some bad remote work habits during the COVID-19 pandemic. It's been too easy to let work bleed into home, especially for those of us who weren't working from home previously and didn't have an established workspace or remote work habits. Starting a new position that offers the flexibility of remote work is an excellent time to change course. Make sure you have a dedicated workspace, preferably one you can shut the door on or transition quickly to living space when the workday is over. Treat remote workdays like any other day: Establish a routine of getting up, getting dressed, and "commuting" to your workspace by a specific time, even if your "commute" simply involves a stop at the kitchen coffee machine. Then, when business hours are over, wind down your workday and turn off your computer.
Delegate if you're in the position to do so
When you're learning the ropes of a new job and trying to impress a new supervisor, it can also be tempting to take on additional responsibilities. But if you have a team reporting to you, you should delegate to that team. This is a win-win situation: Not only does it give you a chance to see how your team members perform, but it also gives them a chance to impress their new boss. It's the only way you will build trust with one another—and it helps keep your to-do list from eating into your nights and weekends.
Don't dismiss mindfulness as the latest mental health trend. Staying in the present moment can have tremendous value for ensuring work-life balance. Think about how much energy you expend on thinking about the office outside of work hours. Is this thinking productive, or is it distracting you from being present with your family and friends? Building your mindfulness muscle by starting a meditation practice will help you stay present—not ruminating on the past or worrying about the future—at both work and home.
After a few months, you and your family will be in a routine with your new position. With some hard work and discipline upfront, you can make sure it's a routine that meets your work and family needs.