10 Keys to Work/Life Balance
November 13, 2008
Today’s employers seem to want more of your time than ever. In the U.S., the average worker puts in 55 hours a week. Meanwhile, text messaging, cell phones, and Blackberries can keep you tethered to the office even when you’re technically “off-duty.”
How can you keep up with your always-on career and still find time to do what you need to do at home, spend time with your family, enjoy some kind of social life, and just plain relax?
1. Attitude is Everything
No matter how much you love your job, no matter how big a part of your life it is, ultimately you need to be able to “turn it off” and spend some time not working. This is hard for many people, because their work is an important part of who they are as people. This can be admirable, but an always-on-the-job attitude can be harmful in the long run.
2. Keep a Rational Schedule
The more you’re trying to juggle, the more important it is to make a good schedule and keep to it. Block out all your work and non-work commitments and make sure to allow plenty of downtime and non-work time.
3. Learn to Say “No”
If you’re having trouble keeping on top of everything going on in your life, it may be that you’ve committed more time than you have. Make a point of seriously considering any request that comes your way, and double-check your schedule before taking anything else on. When it’s too much, don’t be afraid to refuse.
4. Enjoy List-Free Time
Stop making lists of things to do in your off-time. When your non-work time feels like just so much more work, then stop. Drop the list for a day or two, and take things as they come.
5. Keep it Organized
There’s nothing worse than finding yourself faced with overtime or extra working days because you didn’t get enough done at work.
6. Batch it
Batching tasks can be a great way to get more done in less time. You’ll work faster and better because your mind is only on one thing, and when it’s done, you can forget it.
7. Clear Your Mind
Do whatever it takes to confine all the things you’d be liable to worry about to a trusted system where you know they’ll get taken care of, so you can spend the rest of your time without worrying.
8. Get it Wrong the First Time
Give yourself a set amount of time -- say, an hour -- to do the job, no matter how poorly. Let go of your perfectionism and just do as well as you can in the set time. You may have to go back and fix it, but you’ll be charged up by knowing the “heavy lifting” is already done.
9. Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Let the people closest to you know what’s going on in your work life when things get hectic, so they don’t feel like your lowest priority or worse, suddenly abandoned. And keep your ears open to hear what they tell you, too.
10. Be Honest With Yourself
This is the hardest one, but also the most necessary. Part of your weekly review should be to ask yourself “Am I happy with all this?” And follow up by looking at how well you’re doing of balancing everything.