Yes, You Can Have Success In Both Your Career and Personal Life:
Working full-time can be stressful. On top of that you have family, a spouse, children, friends, exercise, and/or a second job (if you are an overachiever, or if you truly need the money). How is there enough time to remain sane with all of these responsibilities and things vying for your attention??
It may seem as though there is never enough time. Not enough time to do the things you truly want to do. Not enough time to do all of the mundane tasks that you really have to do. So how do you enjoy the moments you have when you are always thinking about the next thing that has to be done?
First things first, stop always focusing on the next thing that has to be done. How can you enjoy anything if you are stressing about the next thing? I know that you love accomplishing things and checking things off of your to-do list, but are you ever truly present in these moments? Are you present for your life?
This brings me to the first way to enact balance in your life:
1. Take A Break:
Maybe this is counter-intuitive to the go-getter frame of mind you are used to being in. But it is so necessary. You cannot find time to refocus and balance without taking time to reflect.
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Ways To Take A Break:
Take a stay-cation from work. If your job provides you with paid-time off, please take advantage of it. This is a necessity for not only your mental health, but for reducing burn-out within a job.
Now in regards to how you choose to spend that time, it is entirely up to you. Try to decrease responsibilities as much as possible during this time. If your kids are in school during the day- great! Use this time to relax. If your significant other works from home, let them do their work and schedule time together during the evening or downtime from work. If you have a roommate, let them know you want to be disturbed as little as possible so you can de-stress.
Next, decide what will really be a recharge for you. For me, sometimes it is really enjoyable to lay down on the couch and watch daytime TV. Try not to feel guilty about this time spent just relaxing because this time is so important!
Maybe after that time spent vegging out you want to do something active, go for a walk or hike. Or maybe not, you can read a book or do something creative. The point is to use this time to do things for yourself and that you truly enjoy. A helpful frame of reference can be to do things that you used to enjoy as a child.
Keep checking in with yourself during this time off (even if it is only a day or an hour). Once you are bored or tired of doing one thing, move onto something else! Or even better, just do nothing!
I read a great book last year discussing the importance of “mind wandering” in order to be happier, more creative, and more productive. The book is called Bored and Brilliant and I highly recommend it!
If you are struggling to find ways to spend your time, check out my post on self-care tips.
My Break Is Over, Now What?
Now to continue into the real-life routine of getting that work-life balance. Stop living for the next step. This will only leave you rushing through the present moment and leave you drained.
If you constantly find yourself working for the weekend, waiting for your lunch break, counting down the hours until 5PM… you are living for the next step. If you are constantly thinking about the next promotion, next job, next career change… you are living for the next step.
Don’t get me wrong, striving for goals is awesome and necessary. It is when we lose sight of the present moment that this next step has consumed our lives.
If you are at this point, I ask you two questions:
1. Are you happy with your current job or personal circumstances? If not, then it is time to re-evaluate and decide if you should make a change.
2. Are you ever in the present moment, or is this a thought pattern that you have in all areas of your life? Typically, people who are more anxiety-prone can have this pattern of thinking and it is important to be aware of and seek support if needed through counseling and/or self-help resources.
2. Keep Your Boundaries:
A balance cannot exist if your work life is constantly bleeding over into time spent with your children or significant other, or if your personal responsibilities are clouding your work. It is important to set boundaries and stick to them. This is especially important so that your clients/customers, coworkers, subordinates, and potentially supervisors don’t have the expectation that you will be responding to their emails at 8PM on a Saturday night.
People will expect from you what you give them. Therefore, if you tend to respond at odd hours and make yourself available at all hours, then there will be the unspoken expectation that this is how you will respond on a regular basis.
Now obviously there can be exceptions if you have to be on-call for your job or it is part of your job description to be available. Use your judgment when it comes to setting realistic boundaries for your position.
In addition, be sure to set expectations with family members about your availability when you are at work. If you can only take calls during your lunch break, let your family know so they can have reasonable expectations.
3. Value Time Spent With Those You Care About:
Be intentional with the time you spend with family and friends. Carve out time where you can be fully present for those that you care about, and not be distracted with the deadline or project you have coming up at work.
Sometimes you need to have an outlet in order to be able to do that. If you need to vent to your partner when you get home from work then use that as a way of letting off steam, and then move on to other topics. Maybe a way of winding down can be journaling, calling a friend on your drive home (hands free of course), or meditating.
After you have gotten out your work frustrations (or delights) then focus on having quality time with the people you love. Maybe that consists of once weekly dinners with your parents, Friday date night, or Saturday morning play time with your children.
4. Stay Focused At Work:
This may be a no-brainer, but it is easy to get distracted by all of the technology we have at hand nowadays. Take at least one break during the day at work to spend checking in with family and checking your personal email. This will free you up to truly focus on the important work tasks you have to tackle.
It can help to have a coworker or superior to keep you accountable. Try asking them to let you know if they notice you distracted by your personal phone. Take a walk to the bathroom or touch base with a coworker if you notice yourself being easily distracted.
Take advantage of the times that you know you are most productive (maybe first thing in the morning). Use this time to do the tasks that are most difficult or that you dislike the most. These tasks take the most willpower, so they will be easier to get done during these times.
5. Don't Be So Hard On Yourself:
Sometimes you need to be realistic and accept that you cannot have it all. Maybe there truly isn’t enough time to work full-time, have a family, exercise for an hour each day, take trumpet lessons, and hang out with friends once a week.
It is important to accept this fact and restructure your life so that you are not stressing yourself out by squeezing too many things in. Be kind to yourself, you are only one person and there are only so many hours in a day.
Once you realize what you can truly devote to and do it well, you will feel much more satisfied. You can have it all if you realize that sometimes having it all means taking some things off of your plate.
In summary, it is important to be intentional with your time and focus when you are trying to have a positive work-life balance. You have to be realistic, accept time limitations, and focus on what you are doing in the moment.
I know that you can accomplish this and I want to hear your feedback in the comments below. Were these tips helpful? Are there any additional tips that have helped you maintain a positive work-life balance?
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