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How to maintain a balance when you work with your family

When you’re running a company, maintaining a healthy work-life balance sometimes feels impossible. Your job dominates all facets of your life. Working in the office and working at home become one in the same.

For some, this is fine. But most of us need personal space — we need defined family time. Without it, all aspects of your life begin to suffer — your work, your family, and your personal happiness.

When I was younger, I had no problem maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I had friends outside the office and time to invest in my personal development.

But when I first became vice chairman of Aditya — a company of more than 5,000 employees that serves over 70,000 students — I couldn’t avoid bringing my work home with me.

A big part of that is because Aditya is a family business, so everyone in my family is an employee. We also all live together. It seemed that for a long time, our dining room table doubled as our at-home boardroom.

For me, this lifestyle wasn’t sustainable. I needed some kind of separation. So I made some changes.

Here’s what I do now to maintain a sense of work-life balance that molds with my family’s unique schedule.

1.  I schedule daily “me time”

You need time during the day to do things that sustain you personally.

When I started at Aditya, “me time” was something I did not prioritize at all. My day would start at 4:30 a.m. and end at 11 p.m. Even when I got home, more work would always be waiting for me right there on that dining room table.

I began to lose my sense of self and my personal identity as Krishna, the human being. That’s because I wasn’t investing any time in myself. I’d stopped doing the things I love to do, like reading or riding my bike. I spent no time reflecting, meditating, or otherwise preserving my health.

So I started blocking out an hour each day to spend time doing things that I loved. Sometimes I would read, code, or call up a couple of friends. Other times I would hop on my bike and go for a ride.

There are limits to how much time you can spend doing these things, sure. But you can always make some time. You need to. Not only does this sort of self-investment make you happier — it makes you a better leader, too.

2.  I maintain a sense of professionalism at work

You need to be meticulous in setting and maintaining the boundaries that separate personal time from family time, and family time from work time.

If your family members are also your colleagues, it’s important when you’re at work that you treat them as such.

At Aditya, I report ultimately to my father. When I talk to him in the office, I try to act as professionally as possible. I approach him not as a son talking to his dad, but as a professional working with another professional.

I encourage my family members to treat the time we spend together at work with the same appreciation. For instance, when my wife and I need to talk at the office, we try to schedule time on each other’s calendars, just as we would when scheduling meetings with other employees.

My wife can still walk into my office whenever she needs to. But we’ve both learned the importance of not making this a routine practice. Maintaining a culture of professionalism at the office goes a long way toward ensuring that you can relax more completely at home.

3. I set personal goals

Most of us set goals to help us follow through on commitments and achieve things in our professional lives. We identify a promotion we want to receive or a project we want to complete, and we set goals that help us do that.

Fewer people do this in their personal lives. But if you have things you want to personally accomplish — whether that’s spending more meaningful time with your family or reading more books — there’s no reason to not set personal goals, too.

These goals don’t have to be crazy or stressful. They can be as simple as committing to reading one book each month, or committing to spending one night out with your wife each week.

Ever since I started doing this, I’ve not only felt happier and more sustained — I’ve become more efficient in my work, too.

Ultimately, maintaining a sensible and healthy work-life balance comes down to being purposeful.

It looks different for everyone, but once you identify a system and a schedule that works for you, commit to it, and prioritize keeping your array of spaces separate.

Both your career and your family will be healthier for it.

Deepak Reddy is Vice Chairman at Aditya Educational Institutions.

This column was originally published on Quora.

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