Art of Life/Donna Parker

Donna Parker

Can You Really Balance Your Work And Your Life?


These days, work-life balance can seem like an impossible feat. Technology makes workers accessible around the clock.  Fears of job loss incentivize longer hours. In fact. 94 percent of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more.

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Few topics have been as analyzed, glorified and dissected as work-life balance.

The quest to attain this somewhat nebulous state has dominated discourse around careers for years — especially for working parents. The experts agree: the compounding stress from the never-ending workday is damaging and can hurt relationships, health and overall happiness. If you have ever felt like work-life balance is not really possible, you may be right. However, there are a few methods to assist you with getting your balance better.

Let Go of Fear. Many people, be they entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders or managers worry that if they are not working, or seen to be working every day, they may miss out on something important. The business may fail or they may not get that promotion or something. There is always something.

But, what if you believed you were good enough, you were achieving and doing something meaningful, and that you mattered? Once you have that belief and confidence level, you can let go of the fear. You will feel more joyful, productive, and abundant and know that what you accomplished was good enough.

Limit Time Wasting Activities and People. First, identify what is most important in your life. This list will differ for everyone, so make sure it truly reflects your priorities and not someone else’s. Next, draw firm boundaries (times, places, etc.) to ensure you can devote quality time to these high-priority people and activities. From there, it will be easier to determine what needs to be trimmed from your schedule. And if you find your time being gobbled up by less constructive people, find ways to diplomatically limit these interactions. For example, it you are cornered in the morning by the office chatterbox? Politely excuse yourself. Focus on the people and activities that reward you the most.

Unplug. From telecommuting to programs that make work easier, technology has helped our lives in many ways. But it has also created expectations of constant accessibility. The work day never seems to end.

If email or internet surfing sends you into a time-wasting spiral, establish rules to keep you on task. That may mean turning off email notifications and replying in batches during limited times each day. Limit your Facebook or other internet time. “There are times when you should just shut your phone off and enjoy the moment,” says Robert Brooks, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School . Brooks says that, “notifications interrupt your off time and inject an undercurrent of stress in your system. So don’t text at your kid’s soccer game and don’t send work emails while you’re hanging out with family, Brooks advises. Make quality time true quality time.”

Exercise and meditate. Even when we are busy, we make time for the crucial things in life. We eat. We go to the bathroom. We sleep. And yet one of our most crucial needs — exercise — is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up. Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. It helps lift your mood. Dedicate a few chunks of time each week to self-care, whether it’s exercise, yoga or meditation. And if you’re really pressed for time, start small with deep breathing exercises during your commute.

Take More Rejuvenation Days. When was the last time you took some time out from work to completely rejuvenate? One of the best ways to create an environment for future high productivity and creativity is to take yourself outside of the day to day and remove yourself completely from work-related activities. By taking time out for yourself, you will gain clarity on what is most important, both now and in the future, and you will come back refreshed, energized and motivated. By taking more rejuvenation days, you are investing in yourself which naturally means you are creating more balance. If you can take this day to yourself every month or two you will start seeing immediate results on all levels of your business and life.

The Bottom Line. For most people, accepting that work-life balance simply is not 100 percent possible is the first step to feeling more grounded and in control of your life. Do not waste your energy trying to achieve something that does not exist. Instead, focus on how you can address those feelings. Some of these strategies and tips will allow you to think differently and work differently immediately, whilst others will take a little longer to implement, but will be key to your long-term success.

Creating a balance between how you think, how you work and how you spend your time is essential to your long-term health and mental wellbeing. The desire to create that change only comes from within. Hopefully these strategies and tips will set you on the right path!

And if it seems like finding that perfect balance remains elusive, the experts say that keeping some perspective can help. For millions of people, work is about being able to put food on the table. Talking about work-life balance, is a very privileged conversation and if we are reflecting, maybe we should also reflect on that.