Work/life balance is a common plea of overworked and overwhelmed employees.
Your organization may recognize that addressing this critical need will attract and retain healthier, happier employees and increase productivity and profits. While flexible work hours, telecommute options and nearby childcare can help, it’s up to each of us to evaluate what balance means and take action to improve that balance.
Perfect balance will never exist and chasing after it only contributes to the frustration and dissatisfaction we sometimes feel. Instead, it’s the small, conscious choices we can make each day that lead to less stress and more success.
Before we can begin to strive for more balance, we should decide why we want it. What would you do if you had more time, energy and other resources? Knowing the why will keep you motivated as you make changes and develop new habits.
Then, identify and prioritize what you’re balancing, such as career, family, home, relationships, finances, health, spirituality, personal development and fun. Are you nurturing each of these areas in a typical day, week or month? What needs more attention? What might you do differently to get better results?
Here are three strategies for discovering the why and what of better balance.
Get on purpose.
Why are you here and how does your work and life support that? What are you most passionate about? What brings you joy? When you know your life purpose, you’ll increase your confidence, feel more fulfilled and make better decisions about where to spend your time and energy.
To improve your work/life balance, define your life purpose by considering what motivates you, your values and your natural gifts. Write your life purpose statement down, post it somewhere you’ll see every day and refer to it often for guidance.
Create the space.
Clutter distracts and confuses us. It drains our energy and keeps us from doing what matters most. While most of us think of physical clutter, like a messy office and overstuffed closet, there’s also technical clutter, like your over-reliance on your cell phone and too much time on the Internet, and emotional clutter, like regrets and toxic people in your life.
Try this: Make a list of all your ongoing commitments, from your professional and personal memberships to committees on which you serve that are not directly related to your job responsibilities. Rank them on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of importance and consider resigning from anything less than a 7. By cleaning out the clutter of unnecessary obligations — as well as other forms of clutter — you’ll think clearer, have more energy, and be open to helpful opportunities, people and ideas.
Manage your energy.
Even more important than time management is how you manage your energy. Making empowering changes and maintaining healthy habits take vitality and commitment. When you’re not strong, you will tend to slip back into your old routine. That’s why it’s so important to make conscious choices every day.
Start with the basics, including eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, being physically active and getting enough sleep. Then, go deeper by choosing to associate with people who live healthy, balanced lives; enjoying a hobby; and finding time to relax and recharge when you need it.
What’s your strategy for better balance?