Striking a healthy work-life balance is a difficult challenge even in the best of times, but it is all the more daunting and necessary in times of economic stagnation and uncertainty.
The Great Recession, with its subsequent cuts and layoffs, has left many employees working longer hours and working harder than ever before. Worried about their jobs, the workers are willing to prove that they are an indispensable part of the team.
In addition to the pressure, today’s portable electronic devices have obliterated the line between work and home. Gone are the days when leaving the office or the shop meant leaving our job behind. Employees are available to their supervisors , coworkers and customers around the clock.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance requires managing our professional and personal life in a sustainable way that keeps our energy flowing, our minds and bodies healthy, and our whole self happy and content.
It means paying due attention to all the things that enrich and fulfill us, including work and career, health and fitness, family and relationships, spirituality, community service, hobbies and passions, intellectual stimulation, rest and recreation.
Track Your Time
Analyzing your present situation is the first step towards achieving a balanced life. Keep a time log of everything you do for a week, including work-related and personal activities. This data will serve as an eye-opener, helping you understand how you use — and where you lose — your time.
Set Specific Goals
Take your list of priorities and turn them into concrete and measurable targets. Block time on your schedule of activities just like you would for an important meeting or a doctor’s appointment.
Set fair and realistic limits on what you will and will not do at home and at work.
Clearly communicate these boundaries to your supervisor, your coworkers, your partner and your family. For example, you may commit not to work late on certain days unless there is a crisis. In addition, set aside a time at home during which you will not check or respond to work related emails or voicemails.
Take Care of Your Health
Your health should always be your number one priority. If you are not physically , mentally and emotionally in good shape, both your working life and your personal life will suffer. Take care of yourself by eating healthy meals (especially breakfast), exercising at least three times a week, and sleeping at least seven hours a night. While you may not think you have time to add exercise and extra sleep to your jam-packed schedule, these practices relieve stress , increase energy levels , increase stamina, improve mental clarity, enhance your immune system, and make you a happier, more engaged, and more productive person. Additionally, refrain from the excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to relieve stress. These substances only tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause even more problems.
Nurture Your Family/Relationships
Relationships with family , friends, and loved ones are by far the biggest source of inner satisfaction. If your job or career is damaging to your personal relationship, both areas will ultimately suffer. Sure, there’ll be days when you’re going to have to work overtime. When these days become the rule, not the exception, the issue becomes problematic. By making your personal relationships a priority, your productivity and work efficiency will actually increase.
Make Time for You
As much as work , health, and relationships are at the top of your life, it is also important to schedule time for your own renewal. Indulge in a little pleasure every day. Take at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted “you time.” It’s going to make wonders for your well-being, and your relationship and your career will benefit as well. Connect to your spiritual source. Belief in God, or higher power, may be a deep well from which to draw inspiration, guidance, and strength. Setting aside a weekly rest day can be helpful, too.