For most people, juggling the demands of career and personal life is an ongoing challenge. With so many demands on your time from work to family obligations, it can be difficult to strike a balance. The goal is to make time for the activities that are the most important to you so you can live a happy life.
Here are some ideas to help you find the balance that's best for you:
Keep a log. Track everything you do for one week. Include work-related and non-work-related activities. Decide what's necessary and what satisfies you the most. Cut or delegate activities you don't enjoy and don't have time for. If you don't have the authority to make certain decisions, talk with your family on a personal level or professionally to your supervisor at work.
Take advantage of your options. Find out if your employer offers flex hours, a compressed workweek, job-sharing or telecommuting for your role. The flexibility may alleviate some of your stress and free up some time. Sometimes the options have been there all along but never explored.
Learn to say no. Whether it's a co-worker asking you to spearhead an extra project or your child's teacher asking you to manage the class play, remember that it's OK to respectfully say no. When you quit doing the things you only do out of guilt or a false sense of obligation, you'll make more room in your life for the activities that are meaningful to you and bring you joy.
Leave work at work. With today's global business mentality and the technology to connect to anyone at any time from virtually anywhere, there's no boundary between work and home unless you create it. Make a conscious decision to separate work time from personal time. When with your family for instance, turn off your cell phone and put away your laptop computer.
Manage your time. Organize household tasks efficiently. Doing one or two loads of laundry every day, rather than saving it all for your day off, and running errands in batches are good places to begin. A weekly family calendar of important dates and a daily list of to-dos will help you avoid deadline panic. If your employer offers a course in time management, sign up for it.
Communicate clearly. Limit time-consuming misunderstandings by communicating clearly and listening carefully. Listening to others is very important in the communication process and will help you to understand each situation better. Take the necessary steps to get your thoughts and feelings shared and respected by others.
Fight the guilt. Remember, having a family and a job is OK for both men and women. Making the right choices with a clear conscious will become critical to your success in both areas. Instead of feeling bad, take action by making your life better and more rewarding.
Nurture yourself. Set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy, such as walking, working out or listening to music. Unwind after a hectic workday by reading, meditating, practicing yoga or taking a nap. Just spend some time winding down in a peaceful environment.
Set aside one night each week for recreation. Take the phone off the hook, power down the computer and turn off the TV. Discover activities you can do with your partner, family or friends that are fun. Making time for activities you enjoy will rejuvenate you and will bring more joy into your life.
Protect your day off. Try to schedule some of your routine chores on workdays so that your days off are more relaxing. Don’t let everything pile up until that one day. Each day accomplish something small and it will make your chores less stressful.
Get enough sleep. There's nothing as stressful and potentially dangerous as working when you're sleep-deprived. Not only is your productivity affected, but also you can make costly mistakes. Get 8 hours of sleep so you are fully rested and can start your day refreshed. Your family and co workers will benefit as well from your energized self!
Bolster your support system. Make sure you release your energy by talking to a trusted friend or co-worker during times of stress or hardship. Ensure you have trusted friends, neighbors and relatives who can assist you when you need a favor when you have to work overtime or travel for your job. Having a support system alleviates the pressure of having to take care of everything yourself.
Seek professional help. Everyone needs help from time to time. If your life feels too chaotic to manage and you're spinning your wheels worrying about it, talk with a professional coach to give you the support you need to achieve your goals. If you're experiencing high levels of stress because of marital, financial, chemical dependency or legal problems, a professional can provide you with specialized resources to get you help in those areas.
Remember, striking a work-life balance isn't a one-shot deal. Creating balance in your life is a continuous process. Demands on your time change as your family, interests and work life change. Assess your situation every few months to make sure you're keeping on track. Balance doesn't mean doing everything. Examine your priorities and set boundaries. Be firm in what you can and cannot do. Only you can change your situation and restore harmony to your lifestyle.
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