Are you having trouble balancing work and life?
We all want better balance in our lives, but many of us struggle in achieving and then maintaining it. People tend to get stuck in a rut. They know that how they are living is not working for them, but find change difficult.
There are also increasing demands on our time and the benefits of email and mobile phones are countered with the costs of making it hard to have a life outside of work. Working very hard is also need-satisfying at some level. There is something very seductive about being consumed, almost obsessed, by a work-related project. Some people struggle in even knowing what makes them happy. Lastly, work-life balance is not something you achieve and then never have to worry about again. It is something you need to constantly monitor and work at over time.
To move in the direction of creating more balance in your life, you first need to know what type of thinking is going to motivate you to take action. Is it the benefits of change – feeling happier and enjoying life more? Or is it more the thought of avoiding the costs of living your life out-of-balance for too long – strained relationships, feeling stressed and dissatisfied, or possible health problems? Write down what is motivating for you and then regularly remind yourself why you need to take action.
Women especially are better at knowing what makes other people happy than thinking about their own needs. Although their family’s happiness is closely associated with their own, people also have their own individual needs. So, my second key is to give some serious thought to what it is that will help you to feel happier. Do you need to re-connect with friends, reconnect with a hobby or passion, or have more fun in your life? Perhaps you need to give yourself a regular break from responsibilities, or act to improve your health? We are all different. You are the one who is best placed to identify what will help you to feel more satisfied with your life.
My third key, which will help you to make change, is to set some personal goals and schedule time to achieve them. Our goals might be as simple as to start up an exercise program 3 mornings each week or to speak with your partner for 20 minutes each night after the children have gone to bed. Have these activities either in the front of your mind or schedule time for them in your diary. Unless you can make more time in your day, you will need to start giving priority to those things that are important. I also encourage people to schedule their down time. You might have it very clear in your mind about how your schedule works. I know, for instance, that four mornings a week, I will be cycling. But many people find it helps to schedule their work, responsibilities, and down-time in a diary. Google calendar is a great tool for scheduling where you can use different colours to indicate different activities.
Number four on my list is knowing what helps you to get out of work-mode. For some, it is switching off their mobile phone or computer. For others, it is getting out of their work clothes and having a shower. Some find they need something that engages their attention, such as their children or a hobby to break out of work-focused thinking.
Lastly, my fifth key is celebrating your progress over time and refining your plan. It helps to involve others who will be supportive of what you are wanting to achieve. We can also use those who are supportive around us to celebrate our progress and refine our work-life balance plan over time. When you hold yourself accountable to others, it also helps to keep you on track. You may have to negotiate with your workplace or your partner so they understand and are supportive of what you are doing. Change for you often involves change for your partner, especially when you have responsibilities for children. This is when you might offer a trade. My wife supports me in going cycling. In return, I help out more with the children when I am home and support her in having a night out with her girlfriends once a month.
Life, I think, is a precious thing, too important to be consumed primarily by work. Although we can all sacrifice our needs at times, when we do so for too long a period, we can become miserable, unwell, and less resilient. The place to start is knowing what will motivate us to take action. It was Disraeli who said, ‘Although action does not always produce happiness, there is no happiness without action’.
Editor’s Note: This post is by guest writer, Ken Warren, an expert on People Management Skills and Human Behaviour. With his engaging, interactive and positive presentations, Ken has shown thousands how to improve team performance, provide great customer service, and enhance staff resiliency. Check out all his FREE resources at www.positivepeoplesolutions.com.au