You may have difficulty finding a balance between your exhaustive role at work and your busy life at home. You may think that there is not enough time in the day to get everything done that you would like. No amount of extensive planning, scheduling, or organizing will make up for lost time or add more hours to our day. You need to find work-life balance in order to be happy both professionally and personally.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
There is no exact work-life balance definition. There is no perfect, one-size-fits-all balance you should strive for. The best work-life balance strategy is different for each individual based on your priorities. The trick is figuring out where your priorities lie and coming up with a way to fulfill both your personal needs as well as your professional ambitions to avoid having a work-life conflict.
Depending where you are at in your life, your work-life balance needs will vary. A student with a part-time job will have unique work-life balance requirements than a full-time working parent. Work-life balance functions on a spectrum, and it's different for everyone.
The Lies of Public Personas
True work-life balance can seem impossible to accomplish or out-of-reach. With constantly circulating information and images of people on social media, on TV, in blogs, and so on, you are bombarded with projections of perfection that, more often than not, are far from perfect.
Social media has given you the ability to create the life you want people to see, which does not always paint a complete picture of your health and well-being. Instagram has a bevy of profiles depicting the perfect mom—who has a great job, is married to a doting husband, volunteers at the local clinic, never misses a PTA meeting, and somehow still finds time to have healthy meals prepared each day and make it to the gym for a 5:00 a.m. yoga class on barely any sleep. While there are certainly people out there who are so highly productive they seem robotic, most do not have that kind of energy. But you may have become accustomed to seeing these images and comparing yourself to them.
Your goal of finding work-life balance can be affected when you start to compare yourself to an unattainable version of who you think you should be. It’s important to recognize the high standards society has and then know when to throw them out the window. You need to design your own life and refuse to let anyone else guide the direction that is right for you and your journey to happiness and success.
Find Your Work-Life Balance
How do you create that balance in your life? This process is unique to you and your priorities. With that being said, there are a few things you can try to shake up your routine in an effort to take better care of yourself and look out for your own well-being and mental health.
1. Find Your Fuel
Are you introverted or extroverted? Introverted people tend to feel that interactions with others and engaging in social activities drain them of energy. Extroverts, on the other hand, thrive in social settings and gain energy from being around people or carrying on a conversation. This personality difference is not positive or negative either way, but simply a testament to the fact that you react differently in different situations. The same can be said about finding your fuel.
Find out what it is in life that feeds you rather than depletes you. If going to a yoga class after work or having a meaningful conversation with a close friend helps to center you and bring you closer to feeling content, then make sure to incorporate these activities into your regular routine. By taking the time to understand what or who in your life makes you feel good, you will move closer to being your most productive and fulfilled self.
2. Talk It Out
Discussing your weaknesses is not fun, especially when it comes to work-related stress , but it can be a helpful practice. By sharing your struggles with other people, you can release some of the burden you place on yourself to always be on top of your game. No one can run at 100 percent all of the time. By talking to your friends, family members and co-workers, you realize that everyone has their own challenges. By discussing what work-life balance looks like for those around you, you can start to understand what is realistic and achievable for yourself
3. Be Patient with Yourself
You may have a timeline of where you expect to be by a certain age:
- Graduating college by 23
- Married by 28
- Having kids by 30
But you cannot expect to stick to your perfect timeline as life gets in the way. There is nothing you can do but roll with what life throws at you. It’s important to be patient with yourself and not let your expectations deter your progress. Life is a marathon and a work-life balance requires that you do the best you can with what you have and improving when possible. As life changes, so will you, and that means your balance will need to adjust accordingly.
4. Take a Mental Moment
In the same way that you choose to go to the gym to take care of your body, you must also do the same for your mind. When you’re running around, you forget to pause and let your mind take a breather. Always on the go from one activity to the next, your brain is constantly working. Try to give yourself a mental moment where you can be in your thoughts and allow yourself to process what is going on around you.
Taking these breaks will help you to have greater clarity and be more productive throughout the day. If you never give your brain a chance to relax, this practice may be a bit more challenging at first.
5. Live a Little
You may get so caught up in achieving your goals that you forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Life is too short to live each day consumed by only your job, which can feel like you’re just existing rather than actually living. Be sure to schedule fun into your life and make an effort to do more of what you enjoy doing outside of work. Plan a casual movie night with friends or buy tickets to see a comedy show. Incorporating activities you enjoy into the mix will help to break up the work week and achieve a greater overall work-life.
6. Stay Inspired
When you’re able to look forward to the day ahead, it is easier to approach it with positivity and enthusiasm. But what if that is not the case? Feeling a lack of passion or interest about your job can bring down your mood. When you find yourself experiencing one of those days that you cannot stop staring at the clock, try to focus on what you can do to turn it around.
Because you likely spend a lot of time at your job, you should not be wasting it waiting for 5 o’clock to roll around each day. While there may be days that you have complete job satisfaction and others that you just can’t stand the thought of spending another minute doing it, it is important to find some way to uncover inspiration. Don’t let a lull at work keep you from doing your best. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to push yourself.
7. Make the Most of Your Time
There is not enough time in the day to accomplish everything you would like to get done. And while you might not be able to change the amount of time that you have available, you can control how you use the time that you are given. This part of work-life balance ties into your personal situation and how your time could be better used.
For instance, if you happen to live 45 minutes away from your job or have to sit in rush hour traffic Monday-Friday in order to get somewhere, you could try using your commute to check a few other tasks off on your list. Treat yourself to a funny podcast with your favorite comedian to start the day or tune into the news so you’re informed on all the latest events before heading into the office. You can be more strategic when it comes to finding the time to do things in order to get the most out of your day.
8. Accept Others
Just as you would not want someone to judge you for your struggles, it’s important not to judge other people for theirs. At work, you come across all types of personalities that do not always go together as smoothly as peanut butter and jelly. Working with people who you do not see eye-to-eye with can be one of the hardest challenges to overcome. Do not give others the power of controlling how you behave at work, especially when it could wind up making you look bad in the end.
Part of accepting others for who they are and what they can achieve also allows others to do the same for us. At the end of the day, no one can do it all. Unless you’re Superman or Wonder Woman (who both still need help from time-to-time), you are not able do everything you put on your plate or that others assign you. As soon as you can feel comfortable with what you bring to the table, it will be easier to communicate that to others without engaging in confrontation.
To find your work-life balance, spend time listening to yourself. What do you want to spend time on? Who do you want to spend time with? What refreshes you? Find your inspiration and take small steps to find—and maintain—balance between your job and your personal life.
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