In the 1980s self-help books began to take over most bookshelves in bookstores and coffee tables in most homes. By the 1990s we were all self-help junkies and it became deeply ingrained in us that we have to place hard brakes between life and work. They called it life-work balance and the phrase is still thrown around today, usually to criticize how much Americans like to work.
However, who’s to say that these remedies of hard and fast boundaries are the best solution for everyone? What if you’re the open floor-plan kind of person who prefers fewer walls and more space to roam freely between the personal and the professional?
This all takes us back to another self-help definition which has become deeply embedded in our cultural history: the Type-A personality, who is the go-getter, the winner, the high-achiever. This so-called “Type A” person is usually a success but in many ways, the term has taken on negative connotations. The Type-A personality has begun to wane in terms of respectability because the stereotype has warped into one of a domineering and pushy person with hypertension.
Let’s push aside all we’ve learned about life, work and how to create barriers in between the two. Shake off these self-help definitions and look at how you can be a successful insurance sales person with fresh eyes. See what it means to integrate work with life in a way that works only for you.
Let’s say you have kids and you work at an agency and you’re a musician. It used to be that if you were balancing your work and life, you’d maybe drop off the kids, go to the agency, work for 8 hours with an hour-lunch in between and then go home, have dinner with the family before heading out for band practice or a song-writing session in the basement. Feel free to substitute playing music with going to the gym, hanging out at the local bar or watching your favorite shows. Whatever you do that gives your life pleasure and/or meaning is valid. That’s your personal life.
As you can see, in the above example, there are hard stops to when your work day ends and your life begins with very few pauses in between, aside from a lunch hour, if you even take one. During those 8 or 9 hours, you’re locked in at work. There is a barrier between the personal and professional, often making it difficult to manage doctor appointments and oil changes and whatever else sometimes needs to get done right away during office hours. Never mind working out, playing with the kid(s) or playing guitar.
The silver lining of the coronavirus has been that many thousands, if not millions, of jobs have become remote positions. This means that people have more flexibility in terms of shuffling their life and work priorities. However, with work-life integration, there are no hard stops, only soft shifts. Let’s look at how you may integrate life with work.
You wake up and check your emails and reply to the old ones. You call purchased leads immediately. You then help prepare the family for breakfast and get the kids situated for home lessons.
You find an hour to work on the song you came up with the night before. But you get right back behind the computer and call a few more insurance leads that just landed in your inbox. You have enough time to make contact with a few before you receive a live transfer call. You make a sale with the call and a follow-up appointment with another client. You celebrate with cookies with the kids, and you finish the song you were writing. After dinner, you check your email again and follow up with leads who requested a later call.
See how the second example is more fluid?
Why Would Work-Life Integration Work for Me?
For one thing, you could work on weekends, when people still prefer to take care of personal tasks. You could work fewer hours during the week and spread the rest through the weekend. Many insurance shoppers shop during the weekends, even evenings. You could even start your day later. Whatever you do, you need to buy insurance leads to meet new customers.
Not too long ago, a study went viral in which a researcher found that working before 10am is similar to torture. Whether or not that study is founded on science or fiction, the very fact that so many people identified with the supposed findings speaks to some truth. Yeah, maybe you have no special plans for the morning other than to sleep in and kill it selling policies until 7 or 8, maybe even 9pm. If you want to wake up after 10 am and can sell as many if not more policies than before, then do it!
The whole point of integrating home and work is to make your career wrap around your lifestyle, not be partitioned from it.
Make a Schedule
Most of us do not have the self-discipline to be fluid, so it’s a good idea that you create a schedule. Write down which blocks of time you’re allotting to work and which blocks of time you’re using for personal projects or errands or for basic self-care. Integrating does not mean overlapping. No, you can’t watch the latest episode of “Killing Eve” while selling life insurance. You cannot talk with a client who is angry about a claim on speakerphone while bench pressing in the garage.
Don’t keep pushing work to the weekend only to find yourself working all day and night Sunday with more work piling up for the week ahead. Integrating life and work doesn’t mean procrastinating by doing things around the house instead of the tasks you need to do to make a paycheck.
Another reason a schedule works, even if it’s a fluid and changing one, is that your partner will also know what to expect. It’s not as easy to integrate your work life with your personal life when someone else also holds you accountable for certain things too. It’s a good idea to be very communicative with the people around you so that you are all on the same page. It’ll also give you an opportunity to create certain boundaries to avoid interruptions during the busiest hours of the work day.
Most importantly, frame your schedule around when leads come in. We know that your chances of making a sale are much greater if you call a lead within the first five minutes of receiving a lead.