Beyond any shadow of a doubt, we live in a very career-oriented society. We spend our high school years thinking about college and then our college years finding our path to the best possible career. And once we set out on that path, we dedicate all of our time to it and it becomes extremely easy to overlook all the other things that are important to us – including work life balance.
Nowadays, it is exceptionally difficult to separate work from your free time. We have all integrated social media deep into our lives and our work deep into social media. Thus, we are in constant contact with our workplace and this has the potential to distract us from our leisure time and more importantly, from our family time.
Surviving the process of having a life outside your career requires steely determination, thorough organization and an unlimited supply of patience. The most important thing you need to remember is that achieving work life balance should be your goal, rather than your expectation because the notion is as fragile and unstable as happiness and love.
Therefore, you might feel that you have achieved this balance just for a few amazing moments before another challenge comes along. The secret is that you remain optimistic because overcoming every one of these challenges actually makes the results all that more satisfying.
Valuable Work Life Balance Tips
Unfortunately, a universal recipe for achieving work life balance does not exist. As such, it is up to us to create our personal set of guidelines so that our professional and our personal lives are able to coexist harmoniously.
We have prepared a few helpful tips to guide you in this endeavor, but it is up to you to decide which are applicable for you and to what extent. Take a look and think about how doing each of these things might enable you to turn the scales in your favor.
Separate Friends and Family Time from Work as Much as Possible
Taking a long work call or sitting at the dinner table with your eyes locked on your phone could prove to be quite disenchanting for your family and friends. There are times when your phone should stay on silent and preferably in a drawer or a pocket somewhere so that you can be fully present in the moment. And while it is perfectly understandable this is not always a possibility, your goal should be to do it as often as your career and professional obligations allow you to do it.
Leaving your work at the office is almost impossible to do in this day and age because we are connected via Skype, Messenger and WhatsApp with our coworkers at all times. So it is up to you to determine the urgency of certain tasks and decide whether or not they are worth interrupting the time you should be spending with your friends and family.
However, an even more valuable thing that you need to do is to concentrate on the people you are with and the things you are doing at the moment when you are doing them. This is also known as “being present”. Don’t spend your time at work thinking about your friends and family because you will be unproductive.
Likewise, don’t think about work while you are relaxing and while you are spending time with your loved ones. You might find yourself realizing that you have actually not been present for the entire time and that the time spent with your loved ones has managed somehow to slip through your fingers.
Stick to your Schedule
Create a schedule for your week and try to stick to it as best as possible. Including some error margins here and there might help you do that and it will also give you some space to breathe between all of your appointed tasks, meetings and errands.
Furthermore, by writing it down you will be able to easily visualize the state of your life work balance. This might help you realize certain things that you need to improve on, as well as the achievements that you have managed to accomplish up to that point.
You should expect that you would not be able to strictly follow this schedule to the letter because unpredictable situations arise whether we are ready for them or not. Try to view this as more of a guideline than a rule and remember that its main purpose is to help you stay focused throughout the day.
Don’t Make a Habit out of Postponing Your Personal Life for your Career
Being committed to your career is crucial for your professional advancement and all the effort you put in will translate into your success. But it is absolutely vital that you set some clear limits to the amount of dedication that you have for your job and that you allow yourself to breathe every once in a while.
Spending time with family and friends is actually beneficial to your career because it offers you perspective. As Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg says, “The most important career decision you’ll make is who your life partner is.”
This is actually one of the most inspiring work life balance quotes because it points out just how valuable it is to your career that you have a satisfying and soothing relationship to count on every day. So make sure you save up enough time for that because the difference it makes is enormous.
Dedicate Enough of Your Time to Your Family and Friends
Call your mom every once in a while; go out for a drink with your dad and pay attention to your spouse and kids every day. Also, make sure you see your best friends at least once every few weeks. This one is actually more of a rule than a guideline because relationships need to be preserved and this requires time and effort for your part, as well as the others.
Include all of these things in your agenda according to the free time you have. Scheduling activities with your loved ones will help you tremendously since it will give you something positive to look forward to on those tough days at work.
Save Some Time for Yourself Alone
Struggling to attain an optimum work life balance can prove to be rather overwhelming at times. And you might find yourself exhausted due to the fact that you are intertwined in a seemingly endless series of activities with all the people in your life.
This is why it is imperative that you make time for yourself as well as for everybody else. At least once a week, take an hour or two to do something that you love, something that makes you happy and relaxed. It can be taking a bath, going to the cinema, taking a cooking class or anything else that you have been waiting to do for months. As long as you get to spend some quality time with yourself every now and then, you will get the chance to recharge your batteries.
Don’t Expect Perfection – the Balance Will Always Be Fragile
As the vast majority of work life balance articles conclude, this is an ambitious goal that will require a constant effort from your part. You should expect that the balance will be tipped in favor of your career most of the time, but there will be moments when your personal life will be the priority.
Reality makes it absolutely impossible for you to achieve a perfect balance, so there is absolutely no use stressing over that. Count your blessings, be honest with yourself and do your best to allocate enough time for your career, as well as your personal life and the people that you care about.
In spite of your best intentions, there will be times when you will have to cancel some personal activities to tend to pressing matters at work. And there is nothing tragic about that, as long as you are able to set limits to it.
However, there will be times when you will finish your work earlier than scheduled and you will be able to embark on spur-of-the-moment adventures with your loved ones. Cherish these small cosmic gifts and try to make the most of your time.
Planning your time can give you perspective and it can help you be more organized. But limit your expectations to reasonable amounts, because there will be very few days that will go entirely according to the schedule you have created. Bear in mind that plans are made to be broken, so you will have to adapt to the changes and do your best with the resources you have at your disposal.
So stop stressing, take the work life balance with a grain of salt and do your best to distribute your time as best as possible. The rest will work itself out!