All too often these days our work takes precedence over anything else in our lives. The effort to succeed professionally becomes a singular focus, which means everything personal in your life may be ignored. The good news is that it does not have to be this way. You can balance the professional and the personal without losing your mind or sacrificing your goals. There is no promise you can have it all, but at the very least you should be able to balance everything and be fulfilled in your life. Follow the steps below to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Asking for Help
Let’s be perfectly clear. You cannot do everything by yourself. No one person can take on entire work projects and a personal life and remain healthy and stress-free.
Never be afraid to ask for help. You should accept help whenever possible and appreciate the assistance another body or bodies can provide. Whether you have a team or are on a team at work, encourage all of them to do the same. Teams should be balanced in a way that everyone has support.
Do not be fearful of asking for help at home either. No matter if it’s putting kids to bed or asking a neighbor for help walking the dog – the overarching idea here should be clear. You will never find a healthy work-life balance if you try and take on every task/project/errand yourself.
Unplug After Hours
Modern technology is often a blessing as much as it is a curse. By allowing us to be “always on” through email, chat and text with our colleagues makes it very difficult to leave work behind. Having access to Facebook and Twitter can make it equally difficult to disconnect from your personal habits.
It’s incredibly important that you take the time to unplug, be it from work or your personal life. Set yourself a time and decide that at that time, seven days a week, you are done checking your phone. Make time to read and catch up on your favorite movies, but put the phone, tablet and computer down. This may be a good way to set up family nights, play a board game and just spend time with one another.
This could also be a good time to join that cooking class you’ve been meaning to sign up for. Allow your mind and body time to disconnect from the world and just relax.
Learning to Say No
As important as it is to ask for help, it’s equally important to say no. You cannot establish a healthy work-life balance if you try and take on every challenge. You need to be the one who decides who you will spend time with, what work you want to do and how you want to do it. Having self respect for your worth and your time is important to finding a healthy work-life balance.
It’s scary, and sometimes saying no will not be easy, but it’s critical that you do. Saying no will allow you to focus on the important things. If someone asks you to stay late for work, have the courage to say no. If someone asks if you can volunteer at your child’s school for the day, have the courage to say no. It’s okay.
Take Regular Breaks
Unplugging after hours is important, but so is taking time during the day to give your brain a rest. No one should go through an entire eight-hour workday without a break. Walk to the kitchen or coffee room and stretch your legs. Take a break and run a personal errand. Get lunch, pick up your dry cleaning or head to a coffee shop. Each one of these breaks will allow your mind the freedom to think about other things and not just work. Studies have shown that individuals who take a lunch break or shorter breaks throughout the day are much happier than those who do not.
Set Up a Schedule
Take a step back each morning and make a list of all the things you need to do. These to-do list items can be work or personal. Prioritize what needs to be finished first. Is your inbox overflowing? Tackle that first thing. By setting a schedule, you will feel more productive and, by the end of the day, more accomplished. You will feel more motivated and focused, and you’ll be at a place in your mind where you can go and unplug.
These scheduled items don’t even have to be for the same day. Set up a 30, 60 or 90-day schedule so you know what larger projects you want to tackle. Every item you cross off will feel like a win, and each time you move on to the next project, you’ll feel a little more relaxed. The more wins you have, the easier it will be to unplug and relax.
Do One Thing a Day
It’s too easy to get sucked into our daily routines and stay in them all day. Take time every day to do something just for you. Make it a point to set this time aside every day, at least during every workday, and do not miss it. The happiness you will find with each successive day will spill over into the rest of your life and mindset. Go to a spa, the gym, or a yoga class and allow yourself some spiritual, mental and physical time to rejuvenate.
At the end of the day, accept that there is no easy way to finding a healthy work-life balance. Instead, you will need to focus and, in some cases, change your priority. In the end, finding what works best for you will help you feel better every morning. You will no longer get up each day dreading the next eight, ten or twelve hours. Instead, you’ll be ready to take on the world, one day at a time.