Achieving a work-life balance has always been an issue for those of us that work full time. We dedicate our lives to advancing our careers while trying to find an optimal balance with our personal life. If you find it hard to juggle the demands of your job with the demands of your personal life, you are not alone. More and more people are experiencing difficulties in achieving work-life balance, which significantly impacts job performance and job satisfaction as a whole. In order for you to be productive at work, you have to actively pursue a work-life balance rather than just expecting it to happen. Here are some strategies to help you keep your work life and your personal life in balance.
- Establish a timeline for your day that allocates part of your time to work commitments and part of your time to your life outside of work. If you want to achieve a work-life balance, one of the first things you need to do is carve out your day before it happens. Equate your day to a piece of pie (either visually or literally—I recommend lemon pie!). Slice a piece of pie that would be equal to your work day since that is most likely going to be the largest piece. Then start slicing a piece for sleep, exercise, time with your spouse/family, or any other commitments you have. Once you are done slicing the pie, take a look and see what is left. If you have some pie left, then you are right where you should be in terms of time management and well on your way to achieving a successful work-life balance. If there is no pie left, that is a clear indication that you are overbooking your days and need to revisit your time management strategy. From an overall perspective in either case, further examine exactly how much time you do spend working. Is that slice of pie that you designated for work too large? How does that make you feel? The next challenge is to try to make the work slice of pie smaller while increasing the personal life slices of pie to help you achieve a better work-life balance.
- Work for a company that recognizes the value in having its employees achieve a work-life balance. When your work life is out of balance with your personal life, your stress level will significantly increase. When you are stressed out, your job performance suffers. Some companies recognize this and remain dedicated to helping its employees achieve a work-life balance. Meeting employees’ needs is more important than it ever was in the past. Companies are now offering benefits that are highly valued by employees like paid time off, flexible hours, telecommuting, job sharing, and wellness programs. In an effort to emphasize the value in having a work-life balance, companies are building this concept into their HR strategy. They know employees need to have a healthy balance between work life and personal life in order to be the most productive at work while subsequently increasing their job satisfaction.
- Build much-needed downtime into your daily routine. This gives you the opportunity to set work aside and concentrate on something that helps to nurture your soul. Pick up a book and read something fun to take your focus off work. Play games on your iPad to help lighten the intensity of your brainwaves a bit. Go out to dinner with your spouse/family or meet a friend for a shopping excursion. Find out what relaxes you and do that as much as possible. If you put as much effort into your downtime as you do your work time, you will be pleased with its outcome.
- Create an opportunity to exercise every single day. This is very important because it gives you the opportunity to nurture yourself physically and mentally. Along with the exercise, make sure you eat a proper diet. Don’t skip meals or eat fast food because it is easier at the moment. When you are active, it does wonders for rejuvenating your outlook when it comes to work and your personal life. Once your perception changes, your work-life balance will have more equity.
- Be cognizant of the consequences you suffer by having an imbalance between your work life and your personal life. You might be wondering what consequences could you possibly suffer from working too much. The payoff for you is that you get promotions quicker, become invaluable to your company, or even make more money—how is that bad? Well, the overall impacts it has on your physical health or your psychological mindset is tremendous! You can easily experience fatigue or be too tired to perform at your best during work hours when your work-life balance is off. You also lose valuable time with your family and friends. You don’t have the opportunity to nurture your personal relationships or actively participate in your personal life simply because you chose to put work first. Everyone has something come up at work that takes them away from their family or friends at times, but the key is to not let this be a regular occurrence. As long as you are aware that there are negative effects when you work too much and don’t make your personal life a priority too, that is half the battle. The other half of the battle is remaining committed to achieving a work-life balance by formulating a strategy that helps you attain your goal to balance your work life and your personal life.
- Learn to say no. Out of all of the steps you need to take to achieve a work-life balance, this is the hardest one by far. One of the biggest motivators for taking on too much is feeling guilty if you don’t do something or feeling a sense of obligation to do something. When you say no, you have to be okay with it. You have to give yourself permission to say no to things like taking on an extra project, seeking out opportunities for overtime, or even organizing a family event. Once you recognize that you can respectfully say no to things, you will become more proficient and more at ease with saying no. In the end, you will see that you have more time to actually do the things that are meaningful to you and make you happy.
Achieving a work-life balance is something that we all struggle with due to the demands that life in general places on us. We tend to juggle a lot at once and often find it hard to fit everything in. Since you spend most of your day at work, it becomes an even bigger challenge to balance your work commitments with your personal life.
The key is to recognize that you have to actively pursue work-life balance. You need to set goals for yourself, create timelines for your day, build downtime into your schedule, and even learn to say no when something just won’t fit into your schedule. If you make a commitment to yourself that you want to achieve a work-life balance, it is easily attainable once you put your mind to it.
So the next time you see a pie in a dessert case or on the table at a friend’s house, use it as a reminder to check-in with yourself. Evaluate how you are really doing when it comes to slicing that pie and achieving a work-life balance. You will find that the slice of pie tastes a whole lot better when you are actually enjoying the right slice!