Ways To Achieve Better Work-Life Balance
Remember playing on a seesaw when you were a kid? It isn't any fun when one child is substantially bigger than the other. Coordinating work obligations and personal time is a lot like the seesaw's teeter-totter effect. Constant stress from a never-ending workday hurts relationships, damages health and reduces your overall happiness. Finding a balance is essential if you want to keep stress at bay.
Striking a Balance
Making elbow room for fun and family time in your life isn't easy these days. Ask your friends what they know about work-life balance and you're likely to get a blank stare. Christine Carter, Ph.D., a work-life-balance coach and a senior fellow at UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, agrees that the term is hard to define.
Feeling that your work-life balance is off doesn't necessarily mean that you're working too much. "Work-life balance is an amorphous term," she says. "An imbalance means that your life lacks an element that's important to you. To find a balance, you have to first figure out what that element is."
Finding the Source
According to Dr. Carter, that nagging dissatisfaction can stem from any of a number of lacking components in your life. The best way to increase happiness is to identify the feeling you're seeking, she says. "Some people want more closeness with family, others want to feel more creative, still others want a connection they aren't getting with the way their lives are currently set up." She suggests going back through your life to identify activities that brought you the feeling you're currently seeking, then schedule time on your calendar for those activities. In other words, make them a priority.
Sticking to Business Hours
Making time for those important activities might seem challenging in a busy life. You can't wave a magic wand and add hours to a day, so getting a better balance on your life's seesaw means working as effectively and productively as possible during business hours. Here are some changes to consider.
• Make lists and prioritize your workweek assignments
• Set daily goals that are manageable and accomplish them
• Catch yourself when you're procrastinating
• Say no when you have to
• Minimize interruptions
Disconnecting at Home
Technology helps you, but it can also work against you, making it all too easy for job issues to sneak into your home life. Unplugging at home is one of the best steps toward honoring personal time. Make a conscious decision to allow yourself work-free time that’s just for you. Limit work emails and business phone calls to true emergencies when you're at home.
One good tip is to schedule email checks a few times a day rather than making it an all-day surveillance. Consider not checking your work email first thing on a Saturday or Sunday morning. You might end up spending the day responding to other people's issues rather than being proactive about your own needs.
Take Better Care of Your Body
Your mother was right — you need to take care of yourself. Even at your busiest, you need to eat. Take a few more minutes to make healthy food choices. Get to bed at a reasonable hour and keep away from electronics during the hours before bed to encourage a better night’s sleep. And consider building exercise into your day. It reduces stress and helps you to better cope with adversity.