Work-life balance is something we could all examine more closely. If you’re like me, then you know your life could use a little more balance. When I think about what I do for work and what I do for myself, I picture an uneven scale tipped toward work with all the projects and tasks spilling over the side. The meager portion on the other side of the scale is a tiny pile of all the life things I feel I have time for after I finish my work. The problem is, I never seem to finish the work, something new always adds to the pile and I don’t get a chance to do anything in my life pile, which makes me feel guilty about neglecting my family and friends. On the other hand, when I do get to do something in the life pile, I feel guilty about taking the time away from work and I don’t enjoy what I’m doing as much. So, how can this scale be put back in balance?
- Step back and look at the big picture
Look for all its wonderful facets of your life with. Think about your family, relationships with friends, hobbies, memories, activities you love, things you want to do, whatever makes you happy and thankful to be alive. What do you prize most that makes your life worth living? Try not to let thoughts about work crowd in but instead stay focused on you. Explore and acknowledge those areas in your life that deep down you know are lacking so you can commit yourself to improving them.
- Give up the guilt
Now that you’ve looked at the big picture you should have a better understanding of your priorities in life. Work is still a major priority but so is taking time for yourself, your family and friends. Before looking at the big picture, there will be feelings of guilt associated both with working too much and taking personal time, but now that you’ve identified what is important to you, you can begin to let go of those guilt feelings.
- Set limits
In order to help remove the feelings of guilt and some of your stress, set limits on how long you will spend on work during your day by scheduling breaks. When you try to slog through and ‘just get it done’, you get tired and become less productive. Taking a break will help to refresh and relax you and leave you in a better state to continue working. Check out what Harvard Business Review says about breaks.
- Give yourself a cut off time
Choose a time of day that you will stop working and stick to it. When 5 pm or 6pm comes around, go home and spend some time doing something for you. If you work a lot at home or take work home, set a limit on how long you will spend doing it so you can take time out for things you enjoy doing.
We’ve talked about this in previous blogs, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to get away from your computer and phone. In today’s world we can be reached on our smart phones at anytime and anywhere we happen to be. Turn it off at a certain time each evening and make sure to leave it in another room on silent during suppertime with your family.
Try taking one step at a time with each of the above suggestions and you will be well on your way to balancing your life.