Obtaining work-life balance has never been more difficult.
“Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” As nice a sentiment as this seemingly age-old pearl is, it is possible for even those who work in their dream jobs to need to separate themselves from their careers every so often. Establishing and maintaining a carefully calculated equilibrium in how you spend your time and focus is the key to being able to dedicate the best version of yourself to the professional world as well as friends and family members. The development and maintenance of your work-life balance is not only an important ingredient in your happiness, but also your psychological, mental, and spiritual health. In this piece, we’ll look at some very simple ways to help build and keep a positive work-life balance by means of careful separation.
1. Separate Your Life Into Catagories For Work-Life Balance
Many say that having a good work-life balance is a priority, but few have taken steps towards consciously establishing a work-life balance plan for their lives. One good step is to take some time to write down your life’s goals in a prioritized and organized fashion. In one place, write out and define your goals for your personal life. These can range from simply being a good friend or parent to goals about learning a new language or even your goals for developing and maintaining positive skills or character traits. In another place, write out your goals for your career, your time on the job, and how you can improve in your field. Once you’ve listed these, you can begin to prioritize these and build a detailed work-life balance plan to stick to. Here are some quick tips for developing your work-life balance plan.
– Before you make any plan, gauge how you’re presently spending your day. You can write down the beginning and end times for what you naturally do during the day, input it on a daily agenda, or use a task-tracking application to do so. After a few days, you should get a fairly decent picture of what tasks fill the majority of your day and determine whether or not they should continue to do so.
– Don’t hesitate to add tasks related to interpersonal relationships or personal development. They probably mean more to you than work-related tasks, so treat them with that level of importance.
– Structure your daily life with time-blocking — the practice of budgeting your day towards specific tasks. Time-blocking makes the most of your time by maximizing focused work and reducing inefficient multitasking.
– First plot your personal life. It’s all too easy to forget to make time for your personal life when attempting to fashion a highly productive work schedule.
2. Separate Yourself From Work-Like Balance Compromisers By Saying “No”
As humans, we’re conditioned to want to be liked. Others understand this and will take advantage of our need for acclaim by using up our time and energy for their own efforts. Before accepting new responsibilities upon yourself, take some time to quantify those responsibilities into blocks of time. If it would seem to push existing important blocks of time out of the way, don’t hesitate to say “no” to the request. While this sounds cruel and selfish, keep in mind that the right time to say “no” is when the request does not meet your own work-life balance goals. Part of your work-life balance goals may very well be to “take on new responsibilities” or “commit an act of selflessness” — which, their request may fit perfectly. Still, like making a budget for your money, if the time and energy required for their request are not in your work-life balance budget, you simply can’t afford to say “yes.”
3. Separate Your Work-Life Balance Plan From Unrealistic Goals
A good work-life balance plan should make your life a bit more efficient, it is ultimately an organizational tool. If your garage is completely cluttered, simply organizing the garage does not rationalize bringing in new items to keep in your garage. While it’s nice to have lofty goals for your time on and off the clock, keep in mind that there is only so much of you to go around and only so many hours in the day. If you over-schedule your day, you run the risk of being defeated by your own aspirations. Maintaining a plan for work-life balance is best if you start incredibly realistic, possibly even underestimating your own abilities. Add to it as you become more focused, efficient, and dedicated to finishing what you’ve started.
4. Separate Your Work Space From Your Private Space
Many romanticize the idea of telecommuting from home because of the ability to work from a laptop on their couch in their pajamas. As most long-time telecommuters can attest, doing so not only kills their own mental focus (as we associate PJs with mental downtime and leisure) and also removes the award factor from hanging out at home in your pajamas. While maintaining a good work-life balance for telecommuters is essential in the form of a “home office” dedicated to working, office dwellers should also be careful to keep their desks and workplaces as devoid of distractions from their personal life as possible. Keeping your workplace kempt not only leads to increased workplace efficiency, but a tidy desk can also unknowingly promote generosity and even healthier eating habits.
5. Gaining a Work-Life Balance By Separating Email
We’ve all been there — it’s 8:30 pm on a weeknight and you’re enjoying some time with your friends or even your children before bedtime. You pull out your mobile device and see that your work email inbox notification is shining out to you from the home screen. Try as hard as you want, it’s very difficult to fight the FOMO (fear of missing out). You check your email to see a vague message from your boss that just says, “When you get in tomorrow, come see me in my office. There’s something we need to discuss.” Your throat goes dry while your palms sweat. Are you getting fired? Are you getting promoted? Are you getting transferred? Does she just want to learn your trick for how to best get a mustard stain out of a shirt? There’s no way of knowing and your night is ruined. Though you’re supposed to be catching up with friends over drinks, your mind is held hostage by that email message. According to a poll conducted by Workplace Options, a wellbeing solutions company, around 59% of Americans check their work email outside of working hours. What is the solution to maintaining any kind of work-life balance when email is always at your fingertips? Make it more difficult to check your email while not at work.
You may think you’re saving time by making it easier to check your work email from a mobile device, tablet, or home computer. However, the easier you make it for yourself to check your work email, the more frequently you will — and the less well off you’ll be for it. According to the same study by Work Place Solutions, about 30% of work email we check is not urgent or even important. That means simply it can wait for the workday…so leave it there. Remove work email applications from your home-life devices and deport them from personal email applications such as Gmail and Outlook. Even for browser-based email applications, remove username and password autofill capability. You won’t remove your ability to access work email from home, but you’ll definitely make it less likely that you actually will seek it out. It will be there in case of emergency, but statistically speaking, your work email can probably wait till the workday. Afterall, when was the last time you heard anyone say, “In case of emergency, email me”?
If it is an organizational policy for someone to reply to emails outside of working hours, arrange a schedule with colleagues to take turns being “on duty.” Find out which times work best for each of you. When it’s your night or weekend off, disable that email functionality from your devices.
6. Gain Work-Life Balance by Separating Work and Life Applications
For many of us, there is little rhyme or reason to the placement of apps on our phones or programs on our computer desktops other than by the frequency of use. While this is an efficient use of space, it can be an incredibly inefficient use of focus. By bundling together work-related applications into their own folders or screens and then keeping those areas tucked out of site while off work can help you to resist the urge to “get a little work done” when you’ve already planned to stay away from work. The reverse is also true for productivity-killer applications such as social media and games. Keep time-wasters away from your main home screen. Hide the worst offenders several pages away from your home screen or work-related applications. Ideally, your home screen should be a fairly neutral zone of applications you may use all day, yet still do not demand much of your attention.
7. Separate Yourself Entirely With Technology Sabbaths For Better Work-Life Balance
As much as we strive to be completely free of our work life away from the office or beyond office hours, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures — it may be time for a technology sabbath. In order to loosen the entangled knots we find wrapped around large sections of our home life due to technology, a techno-fast, so to speak, can be tremendously liberating and relaxing. One day a week, preferably on a weekend or whenever you can arrange to be without distractions, try placing your mobile devices, tablets, and computers in a drawer. While you may initially feel symptoms some would associate with withdrawal and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), the point is to truly take your mind off work. Spend some device-free time with your family. Dive into that book you’ve been meaning to pick up. Catch up with a friend. If you feel that this may be too drastic, start small. Feel what it’s like to turn the data feature off of your mobile device. (Do you remember what it was like before our phones could connect to the internet? You can experience that simplicity again every so often with a simple change in your settings.) The point is that taking a break from any communicative technology that may connect you back to work can exponentially enhance your work-life balance. Of course, before shutting yourself off from the world, inform the necessary colleagues and possibly customers of your intention and how to reach you for a true emergency. This is not only nice for them, but it will help put your mind at ease.
8. Separate Time From Your Schedule To Maintain Your Work-Life Balance Plan
Like a car needs maintenance to make sure it runs efficiently and in the right direction, your work-life balance needs regularly scheduled maintenance. Once you have experimented a bit to find different methods of maintaining your work-life balance, maintaining your maintenance is also required. By simply blocking out a recurring time on your calendar to work on enhancing your work-life balance, you’ll increase the likelihood of your plan’s success. With each work-life balance maintenance session, gauge the effectiveness of each technique and schedule the plans for any necessary changes. While many positive habits will form, don’t marry any techniques that have outlived their usefulness. Always be gauging the effectiveness of your work-life maintenance plan and begin to experience the benefits of a work-life balance and an overall homeostasis.
If you’re on the hunt for a job that allows for a great work-life balance, feel free to speak with the career professionals from OakTree Staffing & Training.