They say life's a balancing act. Here’s how to walk to high beam like a pro. [TWEET]
Life’s fluidity demands a certain flexibility in both your work and personal activities, trying to schedule equal numbers of activities for each can be frustrating and seem impossible. Some jobs have set schedules and when you leave for the day, the work stays behind until the next day. However, as technology evolves and there are more opportunities to telecommute, the line between work and life blurs. Is it okay to throw a load of laundry in the wash between conference calls? What about taking 20 minutes to mow the lawn between meetings?
As more and more employees work from home full-time and everyone has 24/7 access to email, balancing work and family may not seem like an easily attainable goal. However, both workers and businesses benefit when you are able maintain that balance. So how can you juggle the demands of both worlds without causing yourself even more stress? Below are eight tips to help you get started.
Drop activities that drain your time or energy.
It’s easy to get sucked into habits that make us less efficient without us realizing it – like keeping your Facebook tab open at work so you don’t miss something “important.” Do an inventory of activities that don’t enhance your life or career – and minimize the time you spend on them.
It’s hard to say “no” especially to a supervisor or loved one, but sometimes that powerful, little word is the key to a bit more work-life balance. Will the office really collapse in on itself if you don’t chair one more committee? Can someone else help out at the school dance next weekend? Learn to use “no” judiciously and it will become a powerful tool in balancing work and family.
Rethink how you do errands and chores.
A good friend of mine who gradually worked her way into an upper management position while also “executive directing” the busy, crazy needs of her family of five reminded me that life’s too short to stress over dust bunnies. She decided that the last thing she wanted to do in her free time was to clean. So she hired a cleaning service that scrubs her house twice a month.
Are there errands that you could outsource to someone else? What about ordering your groceries online with a service like FreshDirect and Peapod by Stop & Shop or hiring a dog walker through Care.com? Check out Lifehacker's infographic on services you can use to outsource your chores.
Some people even trade services with friends. The next time you get together with your friends, brainstorm how you can help each other out, save some money and spend time doing tasks you enjoy that others might dread.
Get a move on.
Research shows that exercise helps you remain alert. Finding time to hit the gym may be hard in a jam-packed schedule, but it will ultimately help you get more things done because exercise releases endorphins, boosts energy and increases your ability to concentrate.
If the gym’s not an option, are there people in your neighborhood you could meet several mornings a week before work to go for a brisk 20-minute walk? If mornings are a no-go, how about stepping away from your desk at lunchtime to go for a stroll? Remember: it's all about work-life balance.
There will always be another client, another email or another fire that needs tending, but one important piece of advice is to say “enough” and step away. Trust that someone else can work the problem or the problem isn’t so dire that you can’t deal with it during the next business day.
Study after study shows that people desperately need more sleep, and that significant sleep deprivation affects your health and well-being. Exposure to electronics right before bed can significantly negatively impact your sleep, so try to unplug an hour before bedtime.
As an added bonus: the last thoughts you have as you drift into slumber won’t be fixating on an upcoming meeting but maybe, instead, on a recipe you want to try for dinner next week, or a long-awaited night out.
Find time for yourself.
What would you do if you had a whole day to yourself with no demands on your time? Would you binge watch every episode of The Walking Dead? Curl up with a novel? While most people don’t have the luxury of a whole day dedicated to relaxation, constantly putting off that down time and putting everyone’s needs before your own will wear you down and make it even more difficult to meet all those demands.
Pick a time - whether it’s 30 minutes to curl up with your favorite magazine after the kids are in bed or an hour-long run before work - to do something just for you. Even just a few minutes of ‘me time’ a day will help to recharge your batteries.
Build down time into your daily routine.
Most jobs have an ebb and flow of crazy times and slightly more relaxed cycles. Take advantage of those cycles when you can.
Communicate your needs.
Don’t assume your family and manager are aware of your concerns. If you need to adjust your schedule to discover a better work-life balance, then voice those needs. If that means asking your boss for permission to leave a few minutes early once a week so you can hit that yoga class on the way home, do it.
All new habits require time to build, so if you find yourself sneaking your iPhone to bed and, three hours later, you’re finally escaping the clutches of Pinterest, that’s okay. Leave your phone downstairs tomorrow night. Little steps are the key to finding that balance, so start small, and go from there.
Most of all, you know your boundaries and what works best for you, so decide what really matters, what career advice you want to follow, and prioritize.
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