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Work-Life Balance: How to the Make the Best of Both Worlds
Do you wish there was more time in the day to get everything done? We can’t add hours to the day, but we can maximize our time to find a balance between work and home. The most valuable resources these days don’t include money, gold or oil – as it’s time! Time, unlike most things, cannot be created, saved, or repurposed. So, how do we make the most of our time at work and at home and find balance? Here are work-life balance tips to consider:
Let it go. Take a lesson from a kid’s movie, Frozen and “let it go.” Stress is a fickle beast waiting to catch you off guard at the least opportune moment. In the rush to get everything done at work and at home, we often find it hard to find a balance between the two. When we have a balance between career and family, there is less stress, more pride, and increased production. Sounds like a win-win, right? Well, if stress wins, it can deplete concentration, make us irritable and depressed which in turn affects our personal and professional relationships. Best thing to do: let go of the things you cannot control and concentrate on the things you can.
Be realistic. According to executive coach Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, it is difficult to keep the habit of perfection ongoing. Striving for constant perfection can be exhausting and stressful. Instead, she recommends striving for excellence, not perfection, to avoid burn out. The pursuit of perfection doesn’t propel people to success but instead can be detrimental to one’s mental health. If you acknowledge that life gets complicated and things don’t always work out the way you want, it becomes easier to change course when necessary.
Give yourself a break. Even at our busiest moment, we take the necessary time to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom. But we don’t always take time to clear our head. There is a connection between deep relaxation and perfect concentration. Described as the zone where thoughts are clear and awareness is heightened, this type of balance eliminates the pressure of time with the stillness in movement. Apps like Calm and Headspace offer guided meditations to improve focus, reduce stress, and induce sleep.
Learn to say no. It all starts with being honest about how you feel. Forget the guilt or long explanations why, just say no when it feels right. Pleasing others is a great courtesy to them but can also lead to self-resentment moving forward. Some people find it difficult to say no to anything, then find themselves overwhelmed and overbooked. A simple “no” can build confidence to control your time on your terms. Another way to think about it, when you say no, it gives someone else a chance to step up. If you need a little practice saying no, this video may help.
Unplug and reconnect. Sounds easy, but it’s harder than it looks for workers who connect to their jobs using a smartphone or computer. For remote employees, it feels like work goes everywhere they do. Being available constantly may seem productive, but in reality, the opposite is true. Research suggests that constant distractions of email, social media, and texting may lower your IQ. Constant notifications can make it difficult to concentrate, which then results in poor quality at work and with family. The best way to unplug is to schedule it as part of your day. For example, designate the dinner hour as device free. Use the time to connect with family without interruptions. Put down the cell phone. Turn off the computer. Power down the tablet. Spend the hour with your family, cook dinner, or just relax and reconnect with life.
Review your habits. Without a good work-life balance, health issues can arise. Take a look at your life and ask the question, “What can I do to improve balance in my life?” Think about the activities that cause you to stress now and how you can reduce or eliminate them. If you run the risk of burning the candle at both ends, it’s time to reexamine commitments and lessen the load. Find out where you stand in the work-life balance and take a quiz designed by Dr. Joanie Connell, psychologist. Find out if you have a healthy work-life balance or if your job or personal life is taking control. When you have a good fit with work and life demands, balance is achieved.
Set rules. Rely on intuition to grasp what is important and ignore the rest. With a generational shift occurring, 81 percent of Millennials want to establish their own work patterns and schedule. Rule number one: drop the 24/7 on-call mentality, and close the store. Establish your own open and closed hours if necessary to find a balance between work and home. Before ignoring the boss’s calls after hours, discuss scheduling with them and determine a reasonable response time to after-hours requests. Even the most dedicated employee can have a priority shift in the event of a personal crisis. A strong support network is critical both at work and at home. In the pursuit of a rich professional and personal life, it comes down to where to concentrate the effort and the rules you’ve established to get there.
Time doesn’t stand still and wait for us to catch up. A strong work and home life balance require continuous tweaks as family, interests, and priorities change. A career is important, but your family is too. The work and home life balance is a delicate exchange of time for focus on what’s important.
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