We constantly hear the phrase “work/life balance,” but what does that mean in today’s hectic world? For some, it signifies a few moments of quiet before the kids come home from school, and for others it only signifies the sweet moment before your eyes close and sleep takes over. Maintaining a busy schedule and staying sane at the same time can be one of the most challenging tasks we take on.
For many working adults with families, job responsibilities extend beyond the normal office hours. Taking care of children, maintaining a household, and other responsibilities can make days feel long and strenuous. During the week, there often isn’t extra time allotted to self-care and relaxation. But there are ways you can combat the extra stress!
Evaluate Your Schedule
If your week is jam-packed with meetings, events, errands, social obligations, and an endless list of to-do’s, it may be time to reevaluate. Do you need to tackle everything on your calendar this week? Does it make sense to jam all of the tasks into one Saturday morning? If you live by your calendar and to-do lists, try rearranging the list to encompass “you” time.
There are many methods for taking breaks throughout the day, and if scheduling is your thing, pencil them in! Studies show you are more productive when you focus on a task for 45-50 minutes with a ten minute break in between. If you need longer blocks of time, take longer breaks. Another way to balance out the week is to shift tasks around. Instead of running all of your errands on Saturday mornings, break them up throughout the week. Make sure to reward your extra bit of productivity with an equal amount of relaxation.
Evaluate Your Social Obligations
Spending time with friends and family can be very rewarding...or exhausting! It may be tempting to RSVP to every party, birthday, or special event, but if you pack too many occasions back to back, the fun can be trumped by stress. It’s ok to be selective about what you attend, and your newly found free block of time can be used for something more personally fulfilling. The most important part about balance is that it feels right to you.
Evaluate Your Workday
Do you ever get to work and feel like hours fly by and you haven’t accomplished anything? You may not be working as productively as you think. The constant influx of emails, phone calls, drop-in office visits, and meetings can make it difficult to find a good workflow. Try balancing the workload by dedicating specific portions of your day to communicating outward and focusing inward. Try checking email three times per day, and closing it when you’re not using it. Avoid scheduling meetings back-to-back, making sure you have time to take breaks and refocus. If you’re working on a big project, break it up into small chunks and allocate 30 minutes to each. Rotate between tasks until the project is done.
Evaluate Your Personal Wellbeing
What do you like to do for fun? What makes you feel relaxed, peaceful, or content? If you can’t remember, you need to take some time now to find what speaks to you. The key to work/life balance is finding what makes you happy and dedicating time to that. There are a number of easy ways to take time for yourself. In the same way that you map out your work and social calendars, you should take time to map out your personal calendar. Dedicating the same amount of time for your personal needs will increase your productivity, lower your stress levels, help you sleep better, and so much more.
Defining your personal balance is subjective, so find what works for you!