In the wake of smartphones, iPads, and notebooks, the line between work and personal life has become extremely distorted. A considerable amount of people work in positions that permit telecommuting... working away from the office. While this functions as an incentive for many, it can also pose a significant downfall – many neglect to establish a healthy balance between work and play. You’ve seen it yourself. People checking their work e-mail at family dinner, typing a report while on an island vacation, or dipping off to join a quick video conference while at a cousin’s wedding!
Although there is no perfect way to combat this issue, there are a few feasible steps you can take if you are concerned about finding a reasonable work-life balance that creates an all-encompassing enjoyable life.
1. Realize that it’s impossible to be everywhere and do everything, every time. It’s all about prioritizing. When a social event or work demand arises distinguish what you find most essential. Keep your responsibilities and values in mind. If you worked late a majority of last week and missed out on dinner with your family, this week may be a perfect time to give yourself a break to take part in that quality time. Don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty about whatever choice you make, you deserve a successful career and a happy life!
2. Schedule and stick to it! Imagine trying to bake cookies with no ingredients – impossible right?! This is similar to how busy work/life days feel when there is no agenda or schedule in place. Granted, things do come up without prior knowledge. However, when there are schedules in place people are more likely to be productive, and less sidetracked and drained by a chaotic and unplanned day. Schedules also allow for flexibility, because you will know ahead of time what deserves urgency and what does not.
3. Manage work by making your expectations known. No this doesn’t mean to boss your boss or coworkers – but be clear about your goals and expectations for your work day. If you work on a team and there are sensitive deadlines to be met, at the start of your day mention that you will be leaving by 5:00pm and request that your coworkers meet with you before if they need your assistance. When this approach is executed enough, it will become a known routine – which makes you and others more likely to honor it.
4. Operation Shut Down. This technique will help you manage your use of technology AND increase your effort to take care of yourself. Devote a block of time each day to do things that cater to you personally, emotionally and physically. Whether it be alone time, a hobby, or nurturing your personal relationships. Try to also incorporate adequate amounts of sleep, healthy eating and exercise. Shut down your laptop, silence your phone and dedicate your energy and attention to what enhances your well-being. After all, being personally healthy is a great way to improve your performance professionally.
Separating work demands and personal life is exceptionally necessary. Taking a break from a hectic workweek is valuable to your mental and physical health, as it supports you in managing your stress levels, and allows you time to create work-life congruence!
Your happy balance emerges when your effort to live life becomes just as important as making a living!
Written by Brianna Colbert, MA, LLPC.