Ah, the dreaded question of striking the perfect work-life balance. Many struggle with it, few have solved the riddle. A recent article would suggest we still have a long way to go: according to ABC, last year more than 25 million Americans (roughly 20.5 percent of the total workforce) reported having worked a minimum of 49 hours per week, the equivalent of nearly 10 hours a day. It would seem work-life balance is a long way off.
Despite this news, the importance of this crucial life balance cannot be understated.
The ability to strike the right mix of hard work and life enjoyment can affect your health, happiness and the work in question. However, let’s face it, with so many priorities competing for your time and energy, how can you ever achieve it? Some argue it is possible, that with a few simple habits, it’s not as hard to achieve:
Stop multitasking - With only so many hours in a day, effective time management is essential to achieving balance, which requires you to prioritize and focus directly on the task at hand. Set goals each day, and then minimize any distractions to achieving them. Be present for any current task, and once it’s completed, go to the next one. Spreading your attention only delays completion, which turns your day into a never-ending juggling act.
Be selective with your time - It’s easy to fall into the trap of overcommitting. From committees to causes and that one extra project, the reality is you can become stretched thin in a matter of minutes. Be clear on those critical must-haves (bother personal and professional) and say no to anything that derails the balance needed to achieve those essential items. Regularly review your commitments and adjust as necessary to keep the balance in check.
Use technology to your advantage – From task list technology to rule-based apps that help your smartphone act as an assistant, utilizing time-saving technology is just a smart way to operate. You pay a lot for your devices. Make them work harder for you.
Look for perks – Many workplaces offer perks that make achieving work-life balance easier. From nap rooms, meditation and yoga classes, flexible schedules and remote office capabilities, many companies recognize that work-life balance is part and parcel of today's employment value proposition.
Take time off - I have heard far too often that people are going to take their first proper vacation soon. That’s not the way to do it. Downtime is necessary to recharge, refresh, and spend quality time in solitude and with others. There will always be something important happening at work. The reality is that others can handle things while you are away, and you’ll be better equipped and refreshed to deal with the next big challenge when you return. So don’t skimp on vacation time.
Don’t minimize the importance of a personal life – In surveys with dying patients, hospitals have recorded regrets of those who are leaving us. One of the greatest regrets is working too much and not spending more time with loved ones. The years of your life should be less important than the life of your years. Focus on striking a balance of having the life you want along with the means to make it happen. Both are necessary, both are utterly essential for true happiness.
Take it from someone who has previously fallen into the trap of letting work take over my life. Work-life balance is possible if you follow a few simple habits. Happiness and equilibrium are essential. Find yours now.