We juggle many roles at once. It gets very tiring. Sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day. Or like some women, you get into an Energizer Bunny mood where you can’t stop going and going. Sometimes we attune to the saying “a busy mind is a happy mind”.
The media feeds to this notion that we are not living fully or ‘happily’ unless we spend every minute of every day doing something. Commercials, television programs and movies are created to entertain us with quick words, intense drama and fast action. Most of today’s youth are said to have problems dealing with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders due to high-paced action cartoons and video games.
You could also blame the corporate world’s push to become more competitive, which translates into more working hours and overtime. Some companies state on their websites or job postings about their commitments to offer a better work-life balance, but I often wonder if they really mean it. To those companies, what they really mean is that working here will become your life.
Creating a better work-life balance at work may be difficult to do. However there are some things you can do yourself to make it better. Here are 5 things YOU can do to create a better work-life balance:
1. Have a defined line between work / home or work / leisure
This can be tricky if you work from home, but have a defined time (or barrier) between work time and play time. When you work from home, have a designated office where no one can disturb you and distractions are minimum. Better yet, shut the door to feel more of a barrier between your ‘home’ and ‘office’. Try to stay at your desk during your normal office hours, with the exception of a lunch hour of course. Don’t allow yourself to do anything else except work during your work hours (like laundry, doing dishes, etc). Anything that needs your attention in the house can wait until the end of your work day.
If for some reason you can’t work at home or you don’t have a designated office at home, visit a local coffee shop, library or anyplace else you won’t be disturbed. The same rules would apply as if you are working from home. No other activities besides work should be going on. Other activities besides work can wait until after your ‘work day’.
When you are like most people and work out of the home, then leaving work at work may be easier. It depends what your profession is of course, but do your best to administer work activities only at work in order to have a clear line between work and home. If there are times where you must bring work home with you, have a designated office so as not to be disturbed. Make appointments with yourself at home to finish work activities that must be done at home (i.e. between certain hours), so that you can retain a healthy work-life balance. If family or home life is a first priority, work should be able to be scheduled around it.
2. Do something for yourself every day
Take a least an hour each day doing something you enjoy. Preferably an activity you can do on your own like reading, crafting, cooking, listening to music, taking a walk, etc. These activities help wind you down from a long day at work. They also help define a clearer transition from the end of the work day.
3. Exercise in the morning
Yes this will add more time to your clock but a 30-60 min exercise routine really does the body and mind good. Make it a priority and it will reward in more ways than one. Your best option is start your exercise routine before work in the morning, as the routine will likely turn into a habit and will keep you energized throughout the day.
4. Eat a healthy diet
Diet can do a tremendous amount of good to your overall feeling of well-being. A proper diet would include a large variety of fruit and vegetables, while limiting intake on sugars, fats and processed foods. Maintaining a balanced diet will also keep you alert and ready to take on the day, rather then dragging along. Making changes to create a better work-life balance can be stressful, and proper diet is a major way of lessening stress.
5. Learn to relax
Most importantly, learn to relax. So many of us worry about how much we are getting done or not getting done. While it is important to be productive, there comes a time when your body and mind need to rest. Massage is a good way to relax muscles and relieve tension that may have built up in your body.
Other suggestions could be yoga classes at your gym or even a few stretches before your morning run. Better yet, besides yoga, I am a firm believer in mediation for relaxing the mind. Checkout your gym again to see if there are free classes, if not there may be local meetups or community classes that offer group meditation classes.
In addition to the suggestions above, creating a better work-life balance outside of work may not be enough. If you’re at a company that doesn’t value a proper work-life balance or you work at a place that takes advantage of your time, there are a few actions you can take without having to quit your job.
Go out to lunch.
If your work allows it, go out to eat for lunch instead of staying in. By leaving the office for a half-an-hour to an hour, you are in a way ‘giving your mind’ a break from the monotony and routine of the office. Don’t be tempted to bring work with you…that includes even thinking about work. By the time you come back from lunch, you will be fresh and ready to work again. In fact, that problem you were stumped on earlier may have come to light while you were away. You only had to clear your head to see a solution.
Speak to your supervisor.
This may be difficult but it may the only solution to creating a better work-life balance for yourself. If your boss doesn’t realize that your life outside of work is important to you, then you need to find a compromise. Consider the hours you work and the amount of work you do. Do you often find yourself piled with work at the office, which results in feeling obligated to bring work home? Are you fairly compensated for overtime work? Is overtime something you agreed upon when you were first hired? Did rules change? Did management change? All of these decisions and how you articulate your needs to your supervisor is up to you. If you are not happy with the resulting compromise or your situation at work, then consider finding another job. There are other companies out there that believe in a proper work-life balance. No job should be worth your sacrificing your personal health and well-being.