5 Tips for Striking Better Work and Life Balance
If you are juggling the responsibilities of a career and family obligations, it can seem like there is no time for you to simply let loose, have fun and check off some of those bucket list items. Striking a balance between work and free time is a challenge in this busy world where demands and responsibilities seem to be ever-increasing. According to a Pew Research study, 56 percent of working moms and 50 percent of working dads report having difficulty finding balance between work and play. So you are not alone if you are feeling the stress. But what can you do to bring balance back into your life?
Make Your Priorities
Try committing to writing your priorities for the week. Before the work week begins, take a few minutes to write out your number one priority for the week — it can be work related, family related or you related. Make three columns on a piece of paper, and place your priority in the column in red ink. Now ask yourself, what is my second priority? Third? What columns do they go in? After you have listed your top five priorities, see if they are all in the same column. It might be all five of your top priorities are work-related, for example. But now you know where to focus your time as the week progresses. Use the list to remind yourself of your priorities and keep you focused. You can also add new priorities, hopefully to the other columns, as you complete your top five.
Know When to Stop
By setting your priorities, make the most of your time in the office and establish a discipline around leaving the rest for tomorrow. There’s always going to be to-do items on your work list. But while your boss might be impressed that you worked around the clock, he’ll be even more impressed that you accomplished your priorities in an eight-hour day and know how to set boundaries.
Learn to Ask for Help and How to Say No
These two go hand in hand because both are about knowing your limits. Asking for help means not being a martyr and thinking you have to do everything. In fact, others might have more time or better expertise to assist with the task. Saying no means not trying to be a hero and take on everything that comes your way. A variation of this is to also set rules. Let people know how and when you work, when you will respond to emails and what they can expect.
Schedule Your Social Life Before Work Priorities
There’s a common phrase from flight attendants that goes something like, “Don your own mask before the mask of someone else.” The same logic holds for work-life balance. Every day, make sure there is at least one thing on your calendar you are looking forward to or is something just for you. This could be a lunch out, a half hour to read a book, a walk or a board game night with your kids. Also, schedule a day to go out with your spouse or friends at the beginning of the week. Look for opportunities to incorporate work and play, such as inviting co-workers to dinner. That will help you ensure there is always social time in your calendar. The key is protecting that time and making sure work and other obligations don’t bleed into it by staying focused on your priorities.
Shift Your Career
Had enough of stress, long work weeks and commuting time? Shift your career into one where you are in charge of your time and flexibility. Freelance work, for example, is an excellent option. Check out freelance writing gigs for opportunities from copy writing to editing as well as resources on how to start building a freelance resume. If writing isn’t your thing, you can find flexible work in any career field at Flexjobs. If freelancing isn’t your thing, consider plugging into an existing business opportunity and flexing your entrepreneurial skills while also increasing your freedom. Some good choices include Amway, which has successfully helped people have meaningful careers since 1959. Another option is to consider some low-cost franchise opportunities that have proven success records.