Most of us struggle to find balance in our professional and personal lives. The struggle to find balance can hurt relationships, health and happiness. The demands from both our personal and professional lives can make finding balance seem like an impossible goal. So, what is the goal of work-life balance? If you ask several people, you are likely to receive several different answers. In my experiences, I have learned that most people want at least 2 things from both their personal and professional lives: achievement and enjoyment. However, most people struggle to obtain either of the aforementioned goals. Some of us may find ourselves working 60-70 hours per week and not feel a sense of achievement or enjoyment. When this occurs we must stop and ask ourselves “Why?” What are you hoping to accomplish as a result of working long hours? Are you keeping your end in mind? When we struggle to connect with our “why” in relation to work, our personal lives will suffer; thus making it difficult to find balance in both facets of our lives.
Work-life balance does not require us to find an equal balance such as scheduling an equal number of hours for our work and personal activities. Work-life balance is the proper prioritizing between career and lifestyle (health, pleasure, family, and spirituality/religion). This balance will vary over-time. The right balance looks different for each individual. The right balance today may change tomorrow. The right balance when you are single may change when you marry and have children. Remember we are not striving for perfection, but searching for the tools to combine a sense of achievement and enjoyment in our careers and personal lives.
The following tips can help you juggle the demands of your career and personal life:
- Leave work at work: We devote over 1/3 of our lives to work. The time we invest into work also includes preparation for work, the commute to and from work as well as time spent ruminating on the work day long after work is complete. In fact, most of us probably spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our families. If you find yourself feeling emotionally and/or physically drained from over-working, look for ways to re-arrange your work schedule, do not take work home (if you work from home, designate an area from work and use it only for work), schedule time off.
- Rest and Recuperation (R&R): I used to subscribe to the sayings, “I’ll sleep when I die” or “No one ever died from lack of sleep.” While we may not actually die from being “sleepy,” our bodies need adequate rest to heal and recuperate. Just as our smartphones, laptops and iPads need recharged; so do we! Do not wait until your battery is in jeopardy of dying. If you are working, do not wait for your boss to suggest that you take time off. You are in charge of your self-care, take the time off and do not feel guilty. If you are an entrepreneur, it is okay to take a day off to take care of yourself. Remember, you are no good to anyone else if you are drained. Is it fair to your customers to experience the “burned out version of you?” Don’t they deserve you at your best?
- Let go of perfectionism: Most perfectionist tendencies are developed during the school age years when the demands of life are limited to hobbies, school and maybe a part-time job. As we grow older and gain more responsibilities, life becomes more complicated making perfectionism impossible to maintain. If this habit is left un-checked, it can lead to burn-out and become destructive. Remember, striving for perfection is an unrealistic goal but striving to do the best you can with what you have is attainable.
- Exercise/Meditation: When our schedule gets full, exercise is usually the first to get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. We make time for many other important things to our health such as eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom. Exercise is just as important to our heath and has other benefits such as excellent stress reducer and “anti-depressant” (release of endorphins). Taking into account that time plays a huge role in whether most people choose to incorporate exercise into their schedule; you can take the stairs instead of the elevator, park a few blocks away and walk to your destination or take a walk during half of your lunch break. Other self-care practices can include yoga, quick breathing sessions in the morning and before bedtime. Remember, we only have one body to live in and we must treat it as such.
- Limit distractions: This can include activities and people. Social media can be one of the best marketing tools and one of the biggest distractions. If you find yourself spending countless hours browsing social media networking sites yet tasks fall incomplete; it may be time to monitor the time you spend on these sites. Are the people in your life assets or liabilities? Do the people in your life drain you? Take the time to reflect on your top 3 distractions and ways you can limit those distractions.
- What changes can you make today? As creatures of habit, we are comfortable in our daily routines. It takes great discipline to maintain a daily routine. However, it is quite difficult to recognize when the routine is no longer effective and change is needed. If your current routine is adding stress; how can you lighten the load? Do you consistently over-book your days? What tasks can you delegate or outsource? Sometimes, a minor tweak in our routines can be the change we need to help us find more balance in our lives.
Improving work-life balance is one of the most challenging tasks faced by many. When making any changes it is imperative that we start small, celebrate the small successes and continue to build.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with finding work-life balance contact us at email@example.com.