These days, work-life balance can seem like an impossible achievement. Experts agree: the increasing stress from the never-ending workday is damaging. It can hurt relationships, health and overall happiness.
Work-life balance means something different to every individual. Here are six health and career tips to help you find the balance that's right for you.
1. Learn to Say "It's Good ENOUGH"
Overachievers can tend to develop perfectionist tendencies at a young age, when they have very few responsibilities. Think about it, when your demands are school, hobbies and maybe after-school chores, it's easier to maintain a perfectionist mindset. As we grow up, life gets more complex as we add an expanding career along with family pressures. You are increasing your responsibilities, making perfectionism even harder to obtain. If that habit is left unchecked, it can become destructive. According to Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, author of "The Office Survival Guide," the key to avoid burning out is to let go of perfectionism, strive not for perfection, but for excellence.
2. Exercise and Meditate
Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It increases endorphins and helps lift your mood. Try dedicating a few chunks of time each week to self-care, whether it's exercise, yoga or meditation. And if you're really pressed for time, start small with deep breathing exercises during your commute, a quick five-minute meditation session morning and night, or replacing drinking alcohol with a healthier form of stress reduction. Keep in mind this is also about balance and should include self-care so that your body, mind and soul are being refreshed.
3. Accept That There is No 'Perfect' Work-Life Balance
Do you want to "have your cake and eat it too?" Expecting to be able to get in an extremely productive day at work and leave early to spend quality time with friends and family may seem ideal. However, this is far from realistic.
Striving for the perfect schedule can be unattainable. Instead, strive for a realistic one. Some days, you might focus more on work, while other days you might have more time and energy to pursue your hobbies or spend time with your loved ones. Balance is achieved over time, not each day. It is important to remain fluid and allow yourself to be open to redirecting and assessing your needs on any day is key in finding balance.
4. Find a Job You Love
Do you "live to work" or "work to live?" Work is absolutely a societal norm, but sometimes your career can be restricting. This is especially true if you hate what you do. You can read all the self-help you want, but you aren't going to be happy, plain and simple. There's no need to love every single aspect of your job, but it needs to be exciting enough to get you out of bed.
If your job is draining you, and you are finding it difficult to do the things you love outside of work, something is wrong. You may be working in a toxic environment, for a toxic person, or doing a job that you truly don't love. If this is the case, it is time to find a new job. Be honest with yourself and take a moment to evaluate what's important to you, money, status, more time with friends and family. Make a conscientious effort to surround yourself with mentors and individuals who are supportive of your goals and are genuinely excited and happy about their job, trust me, it rubs off!
5. Set Boundaries and Work Hours
Set boundaries for yourself to avoid burnout. When you leave the office, avoid thinking about upcoming projects or answering company emails. (Easier said than done!)
Notify colleagues and your manager about boundaries beyond which you cannot be accessible because you are engaged in personal activities. This will help to ensure that they understand and respect your workplace limits and expectations.
6. Set Goals and Priorities
Set achievable goals by implementing time-management strategies, analyzing your to-do list, and cutting out tasks that have little to no value.
Pay attention to when you are most productive at work and block that time off for your most important work-related activities. Avoid checking your emails and phone every few minutes, as those are major time-wasting tasks that derail your attention and productivity. Structuring your day can increase productivity at work, which can result in more free time to relax outside of work.
I promised 6 steps but I have one more. TAKE YOUR VACATION! You earned it, take it! You can thank me with a well-rested smile.
Written by: Ilka Solomon, Account Executive - Government & SMERF