6 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance
By Joyce Weiss, author of “Full Speed Ahead” and “Take the Ride of Your Life!”
The demands on your time seem to never ease up. You need more quality time with the kids, your eight hour work days have become ten hour days, and you have fallen victim to the “Superwoman syndrome” of trying to do everything yourself. Something has to give. What (or who) is it going to be?
Working moms aren’t the only ones who have too many demands of their time. All women are struggling to make time for themselves, maintain their friendships, and keep the spark in their love life. Some may want more time to pursue their favorite hobby, further their education, or care for their aging parents; others may want to be able to go to their kid’s soccer game, be able to work flexible hours, or job-share with another co-worker to spend more time with their family. The priorities and needs are different for everyone. Determine what you need to be happier and more productive and then follow these 6 tips to achieve better balance in your life.
Tip One: Search out a flexible employer.
Job flexibility is the number one desired corporate benefit. If your company gives new meaning to the word “rigid,” you may need to start looking elsewhere; flexible employers do exist. Pay attention when you read the paper. You will occasionally see articles profiling companies that are particularly family-friendly or rated by their employees as the best place to work in your area. These companies are a great place to start your job search.
Tip Two: Ask and you shall receive (maybe).
If you desire to have a more flexible work arrangement, whether it’s flex time, job sharing, or working a shortened workweek, try asking for it. But make sure you’ve done your homework. For example, if you’re a really productive person, highlight this strength to your manager. This is not a time to be modest. Show her that you are worthy of this special consideration, and ask for the flexibility you desire. Be prepared to give your boss the details of how this new arrangement will work so your boss knows you’ve thought it through.
Tip Three: Form a work-life balance committee.
Form a committee, or employee group, whose mission is to survey co-workers to determine what their needs are. The next step is to present your case to management and ask if your company will incorporate some changes. Gently inform your leaders that creating a flexible environment will be a benefit to the company because their employees will be happier, more creative, and loyal.
Tip Four: Schedule your “me” time.
If it’s important to you to do a thirty-minute workout three times a week, mark it with permanent marker on your calendar. Don’t let anything bump it off your schedule. It is just as important to schedule time for yourself, your kids, and your mate as it is to schedule the important business lunch. There will always be some “more important” work projects that compete for your personal time. Realize that your personal commitments are just as important as your professional ones.
Tip Five: Realize a temporary lack of balance is acceptable.
At different times in your life, you may find that your life is out-of-balance. Sometimes it’s worth it, like when you go back to school to further your career, or put your career on the back burner to care for a young child or a sick parent. You have to ask yourself if the benefit is bigger than the drawback of your life being out of balance. If it is, then realize it’s okay, because you have an important, temporary priority. In time, you can shift back to a better balance with a new sense of accomplishment.
Tip Six: Recognize the signs of burnout.
When life remains out of balance for an extended period of time, you can start to suffer from burnout. Realize that burnout isn’t always bad though; it can also be a signal for change. Ask yourself some of the following questions: Are you as tired when you wake up as you were when you went to bed? Do minor problems seem major? Do the little pleasures of life fail to satisfy you? Is your productivity waning? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, you need to make some changes and refresh yourself. It could be something as simple as taking a weekend vacation, or as major as switching employers or changing careers. Once you are able to recognize burnout, you will be able to put your life back in balance.
Reap the rewards of a balanced life today! Your happiness at work affects every other aspect of your life. If your work environment is miserable, you will come home stressed and everyone around you will suffer. If you have a supportive work environment that allows you to accomplish both your personal and professional goals, your personal relationships will benefit. So, determine what your personal and professional needs are and then decide if your workplace is meeting your needs. If it’s not a match, then take action.
Review the above six tips and make the necessary changes with yourself and your workplace. When all the puzzle pieces of life fit together, you will be a better friend, a better parent, and a better employee.
Joyce Weiss shows leaders easy ways to boost the bottom line. Be Direct with Respectâ„¢ is a fresh approach to increase morale. She is the author of Full Speed Ahead: Become Driven by Change and Take the Ride of Your Life! Joyce has been quoted in USA TODAY, INC, Chicago Tribune, Selling Power, and other national magazines.