Whether the problem is too much focus on work or too little, when your work life and your personal life feel out of balance, stress — along with its harmful effects — is the result.
The good news is that you can take control of your work-life balance — and give yourself the time to do the things that are most important to you.
Here are some ideas from researchers at the famed Mayo Clinic to help you find the balance that’s best for you:
Keep a log.
Track everything you do for one week. Include work-related and non-work-related activities. Decide what’s necessary and what satisfies you the most. Cut or delegate activities you don’t enjoy and don’t have time for. If you don’t have the authority to make certain decisions, talk to your supervisor.
Take advantage of your options.
Find out if your employer offers flex hours, a compressed workweek, job-sharing or telecommuting for your role. The flexibility may alleviate some of your stress and free up some time.
Learn to say no.
Whether it’s a co-worker asking you to spearhead an extra project or your child’s teacher asking you to manage the class play, remember that it’s OK to respectfully say no. When you quit doing the things you only do out of guilt or a false sense of obligation, you’ll make more room in your life for the activities that are meaningful to you and bring you joy.
Leave work at work.
With today’s global business mentality and the technology to connect to anyone at any time from virtually anywhere, there’s no boundary between work and home — unless you create it. Make a conscious decision to separate work time from personal time. When with your family, for instance, turn off your cell phone and put away your laptop computer.
Manage your time.
Organize household tasks efficiently. Doing one or two loads of laundry every day, rather than saving it all for your day off, and running errands in batches are good places to begin. A weekly family calendar of important dates and a daily list of to-dos will help you avoid deadline panic. If your employer offers a course in time management, sign up for it.
Limit time-consuming misunderstandings by communicating clearly and listening carefully. Take notes if necessary.
Fight the guilt.
Remember, having a family and a job is OK — for both men and women.
Set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy, such as walking, working out or listening to music. Unwind after a hectic workday by reading, practicing yoga, or taking a bath or shower.
Set aside one night each week for recreation.
Take the phone off the hook, power down the computer and turn off the TV. Discover activities you can do with your partner, family or friends, such as playing golf, fishing or canoeing. Making time for activities you enjoy will rejuvenate you.
Protect your day off.
Try to schedule some of your routine chores on workdays so that your days off are more relaxing.
Get enough sleep.
There’s nothing as stressful and potentially dangerous as working when you’re sleep-deprived. Not only is your productivity affected, but also you can make costly mistakes. You may then have to work even more hours to make up for these mistakes.
Bolster your support system.
Give yourself the gift of a trusted friend or co-worker to talk with during times of stress or hardship. Ensure you have trusted friends and relatives who can assist you when you need to work overtime or travel for your job.
Seek professional help.
Everyone needs help from time to time. If your life feels too chaotic to manage and you’re spinning your wheels worrying about it, talk with a professional, such as your doctor, a psychologist or a counselor recommended by your employee assistance program (EAP).
Remember, striking a work-life balance isn’t a one-shot deal. Creating balance in your life is a continuous process. Demands on your time change as your family, interests and work life change. Assess your situation every few months to make sure you’re keeping on track.
Balance doesn’t mean doing everything. Examine your priorities and set boundaries. Be firm in what you can and cannot do. Only you can restore harmony to your lifestyle