For many of us, the start of a new year is an opportunity to make some changes in our lives - to do things differently, start fresh. We review our past year and think about what went right, what went wrong, what we might like to change. Sometimes we are happy about the way last year turned out and sometimes we are not. Sometimes we are left feeling like we wish our lives were more in balance - that work and life outside of work were more evenly matched. And we vow that this will be the year we achieve that goal.
Work is a large part of our lives, so it is especially important to put work into a manageable perspective and contain work-related activities in a way that enables us to meet the other demands and challenges of life. If work drains you, there is little energy to deal with what awaits you outside of work. Therefore, it is important to reduce the stress and energy work consumes on a daily basis.
Share with your boss your desire to have more of a work-life balance, emphasizing that doing so will allow you to perform at your optimal level at work. Depending on the type of work you do, you may be able to telecommute, work flexible hours, even job share. You might propose more reasonable workplace expectations. You might also consider asking for help as needed, grouping activities so they are more manageable and you work more efficiently, or discussing turning off the technology that links you to work after you leave the workplace.
For many, finding the right balance can be an elusive goal. Although it is easy for your life to whirl out of balance, it takes a lot of conscious effort to get your life back into balance. If you have vowed to make 2014 the year you take back control, there are some things you can do to emerge victorious.
First, and most important, make a commitment to find a better balance.
Identify what occupies your time. Then, take a look at the activities you enjoy and those you don't. What leaves you exhausted and overwhelmed? What leaves you energized and engaged? What tasks are non-negotiable? Be global. Include work and personal activities. Don’t overlook daily tasks.
What in your life do you wish was different? Write down what your perfect balance would be if you could create it.
Look at your lists. Review the list of what you don’t enjoy and what leaves you exhausted.
What is on your list that you absolutely must continue whether you enjoy it or not? Be sure your reasons for continuing are solid and not based on excuses.
Set priorities. What are your top five priorities? Identify some strategies you can employ to make those priority activities more manageable.
Figure out the obstacles that come between you and the balance you seek. Then identify small, concrete steps you can take daily to reduce or alleviate them.
Develop a plan to manage your time. Reduce or eliminate activities that aren’t necessary, especially if they deplete your energy and use up time that can be better spent elsewhere.
Set boundaries. The word no is your friend. Learn to say no to unrealistic demands.
Give yourself permission to schedule and enjoy daily downtime to clear your mind, engage in a meaningful activity, or just be. Respect your private time and ask others to do so as well.
Develop a support system at work and at home. Don’t be afraid to share your goals and ask others for help.
Work-life balance is fluid. Therefore, it’s important to evaluate your balance on a regular basis. If you start to feel like you are spinning out of control, stop, think, regroup, and revise your activities. No one works well in a state of being overwhelmed and frenzied. Work-life balance is achievable. What a great goal for 2014!