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Work life balance is achieved when you feel fulfillment both at work and outside of work with little conflict between the management of both worlds.
Traditionally this conversation has been singled on mothers, but it is important for men, singles, couples, and those with or without children.
If you have a job then this topic is important.Work life balance is something we should all strive for.
Work life balance is something we should all strive for.
There are some simple intentional steps to get you there.
How to Achieve Work Life Balance
Start with the Job Search
Begin by looking for a job that promotes work-life balance.
A company’s policies and practices will be the first sign.
Before accepting the position familiarize yourself with the benefits packet.
Does it include flexible work hours, leave/time off, education assistance, housing assistance, child and elder care, vision, dental, telecommuting, etc?
Will your personal needs be met or is there a hole that you will need to fill?
Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SLOP) published Work-Life Balance, a part of their White Paper Series, as a resource for management and companies to know how to create a healthy work-life balanced environment for their employees.
As you read the paper highlight the priorities that would bring balance to your life.
These are the individual benefits and policies you should be actively looking for in your next place of employment.
By knowing what your needs are and the ability of the company to meet them will set you up early on in achieving and maintaining this balance.
Why is having the correct benefit packet and a flexible workplace towards your out of work lifestyle important?
The following is from the 2016 National Study of Employers.
“We (The National Study of the Changing Workforce) find that employees in more effective and flexible workplaces are more likely than other employees to have:
- greater engagement in their jobs;
- higher levels of job satisfaction;
- stronger intentions to remain with their employers;
- less negative and stressful spillover from job to home;
- less negative spillover from home to the job;
- better mental health.”
The National Study of Employers comes out with new data every year.
It is a collaborative effort between Society for Human Resource Management, Families and Work Institute, and When Work Works.
Together they have crunched the numbers to find statistics of policies and which industries are performing better in creating a healthier workplace.
Know what it is you are looking for and the likelihood of the company at which you are campaigning providing it.
Pay Attention at Home
Learn to live outside of the confinements of your job title.
You are so much more than the title on your resume or your office door.
Set boundaries on your home time. When you are home, be home.
Learn to be present. Whether you live alone, have roommates, or 6 kids, guard your personal time.
Work is not the only place to find fulfillment.
In fact, if that is the only place you are looking you will be sorely disappointed.
Cultivate hobbies and community.
Find a place of worship to connect with others or a community center. Get out and volunteer.
Give back generously to the world you live in.
Seek out moments to spend with loved ones letting them know their value.
Find a mentor, be a mentor.
Pay attention to the people around you, what they love, their passions and interests.
Pursue those things with them.
How to Maintain Work Life Balance
When work life balance is not maintained, burnout in one or more areas is right around the corner.
The best way to prevent burnout and to find fulfillment at work and in life is by purposely making time for the people and the activities you care the most for.
No one can do and be everywhere 100% of the time.
You will have to decide what is the most important to you.
By prioritizing aspects of your personal and professional life, before it’s decision time, you will be better equipped to focus on the things that are most important to you.
Knowing your priorities will alleviate you from feeling guilty.
You’ll learn how to say “no” and be direct.
There will be no more last-minute cupcake sales for the PTA or a late business dinner at work that derails you from what’s most important.
If you have never spent time prioritizing before it can be daunting.
Here is a quick check list to get you started.
- Make a list of everything that needs to be done.
- Highlight the ones that are urgent (deadlines quickly approaching) and underline the ones that are important. How many items on your list are not underlined or highlighted? Can these be eliminated from today’s tasks and dealt with at another time?
- For everything that is important, rank them by value.
- If you still aren’t sure what should come first, start with the hardest item on the list and work down to the simplest.
You are the common link between all of your worlds.
You are the only one who knows all of the moving parts.
Be sure to communicate these to those around you.
If you are in need of time off to take care of personal matters inform your boss.
She can’t read your thoughts and will not know that you are unnecessarily sacrificing in order to meet her expectations.
If you have a big project at work and will be working late, let your significant others know in advance.
While tunnel vision may get the task at hand completed efficiently, it can destroy the relationships around us.
Make sure you are communicating clearly.
There is a 7 Cs checklist you can use to make sure that everyone who needs to know is being told all they need to know.
Mindtools.com goes into a complete description of each C with both good and bad examples of each.
The better you communicate between the two worlds of work and life, the more balanced both will be.
Ask for Help
It is a lie to think you can maintain a successful career, a household, a social life, and your hobbies on your own.
You cannot do it all. If you begin to feel overwhelmed then you need to ask for assistance.
Here are a few ways to free up your time to spend it on what matters most to you.
- If you have roommates or live with family have a sit-down meeting and designate chores. Don’t feel like you have to manage everything. Let your loved ones know that you need help and are feeling overwhelmed.
- Hire a cleaning service. If you are feeling overwhelmed at home and can’t keep up, having someone come out just once a month or every other week will help free up your time and alleviate stress.
- Resource work projects out. If they are piling up and you can’t keep up, consider hiring someone for the smaller jobs. Resourcing smaller jobs out will allow you to put all your effort and energy into the big one.
- Order your groceries online, have them delivered or use the curbside pickup.
- Get creative and begin thinking of ways to streamline your home chores. Meal Plan and fill your freezer with pre-made food. Have a laundry service tackle the mounds of dirty clothes. Hire a yard service or the kid down the street to mow your grass and clip your hedges.
- Merge some of your worlds together. Have friends join you in your hobbies or socialize with coworkers and introduce them to your family and friends.
- If life becomes overwhelming, a sick child or parent needs you for caregiving, ask your employer about telecommuting.
By eliminating chores, you will find margins in your day to be with the people you love, to recharge, and to pursue hobbies and activities you haven’t been able to get to in a while.
Be transparent and honest about your struggles.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to make the world think you’ve got it all together.
You are the only one your fooling. We already know you don’t, because we don’t.
How Exercise, Diet, and Rest Effect Work Life Balance?
Stress in our daily lives is unavoidable.
Even with the tips above of finding the perfect career, paying attention at home, prioritizing, and asking for help, you will find that if you don’t take care of your physical body that you will not be living a fully satisfying balanced life.
The Mayo Clinic claims that “exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever.”
It will improve your overall mood and performance.
Harvard Health encourages exercise to combat anxiety and depression, increase relaxation, and dissipate stress.
Both the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health encourage the increased movement of any kind to achieve a more balanced healthy life.
Aerobics, yoga, meditation, and walks are all beneficial.
By creating a daily routine of exercise, you are preparing your body to take on the day’s challenges and stresses.
Even 10 minutes of exercise a day will make you feel healthier and more alert.
You can fit in small routines around the house, at work, while waiting for an appointment, or anywhere.
The point is to increase movement.
Over time the little things you do will add up to make a big difference.
In addition, to exercise the foods we eat directly affect our emotions and energy level.
When we are tired at work and outside of work there isn’t time to do what we love.
Choosing to eat healthy food impacts your mood, your energy, and your productivity.
10 Best Food to Eat for Stress shares how each of the listed foods interacts with our body creating an improved mental and emotional state.
It goes on to explain why sugary, starchy foods are the worst choices and the negative impact they have on already stressed out moods.
While exercise and diet play important roles in a holistic work life balance we cannot forget the importance of rest.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Problem.
30% of adults reported an average of 6 hours of sleep or less per day.
Adults need 7 – 8 hours to be at our best.
A lack of sleep leads to difficulty in concentration, memory, interest in hobbies, and in our performance at work.
It makes us grumpy with our loved ones and short tempered with our co-workers.
Sleep deprivation can also cause weight gain and has been linked to hypertension, irregular heartbeat, and alters immune function.
Vacation is an important part of rest. You need time to get away and recharge.
Don’t allow your vacation days to just slip away, use them.
Use them even if it is to stay home in your pajamas for a week and catch up on some much-needed sleep, some good books, and a little Netflix binging.
We all need down time. Allow yourself to take it.
Achieving Work Life Balance Must be Holistic
Time is best kept when we lose track of it.
When we are enjoying each and every moment, whether it’s at work or with loved ones, we are experiencing balance.
Balance is achieved in the knowledge that you are a complex creation.
Your body needs care. Your mind needs cultivation.
Work can bring deep fulfillment when we are pursuing what we enjoy but it cannot fulfill all of our needs.
When one aspect of our life is out of alignment, it has an immediate effect on all other places.
When our bodies are unhealthy, we do not have the energy or the emotional stamina to deal with the challenges at work.
When work is not satisfying, we bring frustrations and exhaustion into our home.
When we are tired and stressed, we tend to make poor health choices.
To achieve a full work life balance, we must pay attention to all the corners of our life.
We must be self-aware to identify the underlying cause so that we treat the issue and not the symptom.