It’s fairly obvious that while work/life balance is a goal everyone wants to achieve, it’s unlikely that anyone reaches it all of the time. There are deadlines that must be met, stresses at work and at home, and, most likely the balance is sometimes a tenuous one--like you’re standing on one foot. You’re still upright, but not as steady as when both feet are on the ground.
Some aspects of work/life balance come from HR and company benefits--but others are in employees’ hands. Here are some suggestions for taking responsibility for your own work/life balance. They’ll help you stay healthy, happy, and avoid burnout.
It sounds almost too simple, but making a daily schedule with room on it for activities you enjoy, work breaks, and exercise, will help keep you on track. Even during high-stress weeks, you can find a few minutes for a walk, a break with a friend, or lunch out of the office.
If you have kids, and they have hobbies, join them as often as you can on evenings and weekends. You’ll learn something new about their passions, and there’s nothing quite as wonderful as the grin you get when you’re sharing something they love with them. Even helping with homework will bring you closer together.
Get up an hour earlier every day. It won’t be easy, but the benefit is huge. Do just about anything you want with this extra time--it belongs to you. Longing to write a novel? You can get in some sentences in this time. Want to improve your abs? Good time for a quick workout. Just feel like taking a long bath? Go right ahead.
Some people block out time every day in their work calendars just for themselves--maybe to go to a yoga or meditation session, or just to have some quiet reading or walking or contemplative time. It’s all too tempting to use this time to catch up on your to-do list--but don’t. This is your time. You’ll come back to the list with more energy, and maybe with better ideas.
Find yourself with an unexpected hour in your day or after work? Don’t feel that you have to find something to do with it. Of course, if dinner with a friend is what you want to do, don’t stop yourself--but maybe just a walk around the block or doing nothing at all will fill up your happy space.
If you can, plan to take a class or visit a friend during the week. It gives you something to look forward to, and breaks up the week, too.
Join a monthly book club or plan another regular activity--like maybe a Zumba class (if that would be fun for you.) This keeps your mind or body active and alert. You’ll feel more alive and less tied to your desk.
Get organized. Unless you’re a brain surgeon, you can probably get your work done during a regular workday. Stay focused, and stand up and leave after you’ve put in your time.
Even if your company culture calls for long hours, you should find ways to be as productive as possible so that you can have at least one day a week that you’re not burning the midnight oil at your desk.
And if you start telling people that you need to leave at a certain time, after awhile they’ll get used to it. (And will maybe follow your lead.)
Don’t submit to the temptation to skip your earned time off. You need it to relax and refresh. It may be tempting to check in, but try not to. Take this time to rediscover yourself (and your family, if they’re part of your picture.)
Enjoy your weekends too. Try to empty your mind of work issues and live your life.
Here’s where your HR department may be valuable. Find out what policies (or request them) your company has for flextime, so you can go to those concerts and games and recitals that take place during or after school time.
Many companies these days recognize the value of family time as part of their recruitment and retention strategies, and offer options so that you can take occasional hours off for important activities.
Even if you have to take vacation time for those precious kids’ activities--do it. These times only come around once. When you return to the office with a big smile, you’ll feel great--and you’ll be sending an important message about priorities.
Family time includes parents, too. If you have aging parents who would light up at the thought of having lunch with you, make it possible. They won’t be around forever, and you won’t regret the time you spent with them.
Make time to get off your devices completely. It’s a 24/7 world, as we all know, but unless you have a job where it’s really necessary to be on call all the time, try turning your devices off for a couple of hours a day. Some people do this during the dinner hour, others leave them in another room (muted) overnight. You’re likely to find some peace--and that very little of importance happens that requires your immediate attention.
Looking for more ideas on how to make your work/life balance, well, more balanced? Take a look at our blog, Top 10 Instagram Accounts to Jumpstart Your Health and Happiness. You’ll get a load of ideas about making work, and life, a happy pairing.
There’s also our blog, 10 Ways to Get Fit at Your Desk, for those days when you just can’t get away--but you can still take action.
But no matter what your situation, keep alert for ways to stay productive and also keep that balance. It’s possible--we promise!