THEORIES OF SUCCESSFULL WORK-LIFE INTEGRATION
Do not confuse having a career with having a life. – Hilary Clinton
Striking a healthy work-life balance is a difficult challenge even in the best of times, but it is more daunting and necessary during times of economic stagnation and uncertainty.
The Great Recession, with its subsequent cutbacks and layoffs, has left many employees putting in longer hours and working harder than ever. Worried for their jobs, workers are intent on proving they are an indispensable part of the team.
Steps to a Work-Life Balance
Achieving a healthy work-life balance requires managing our professional and personal life in sustainable ways that keep our energy flowing, our minds and bodies healthy and our whole selves happy and content.
It means giving 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.
To get there:
1. Track Your Time
Analyzing your present situation is the first step in achieving a balanced life. Keep a time log of everything you do for one week, including work-related and personal activities. This data will serve as an eye-opener, which will help you understand how you are using -- and where you are losing -- your time.
2. Determine Your Priorities
Spend some time seriously reflecting on what is most important to you, and make a list of your top priorities at work and home. Then analyze your time audit by asking yourself these key questions: What do I need to start doing? Stop doing? Continue doing? Do more of? Do less of? Do it differently?
3. Set Specific Goals
Take your list of priorities and turn them into concrete and measurable goals. Block time into your schedule for activities just like you would for an important meeting or a doctor's appointment.
4. Schedule Scrupulously
Successful people plan their work and then work their plan. You have one life, so have one date planner. Whether paper or electronic, this is the vehicle by which you turn your priorities and goals into reality. Set aside 10 to 20 minutes at the beginning of each day (or the night before) to plan your tasks and activities for the day and evening ahead.
5. Leave Work at Work
Develop a mental on-off switch between work and home. It helps to establish a transitional activity between the two realms. This might consist of listening to music or recorded books during your evening commute, exercising at the fitness center, running errands, or keeping personal appointments. Scheduling such activities immediately following your normal work hours also prevents you from spending that extra twenty minutes at the office which then turns into several hours.
6. Work Smarter Not Harder
Using time more efficiently is an important skill that everyone from the receptionist to the CEO can learn. Adopting the right combination of time-management practices can cut stress and save you up to an hour a day. This can include the use of technology to become more organized, grouping emails and voice messages, avoiding procrastination, and learning to say "no."
12. Know When to Ask for Help
If you are overwhelmed at work, and it is causing undue stress do not suffer in silence. Shed the Superwoman/Superman image and explain your situation to your boss or supervisor. Similarly, if a balanced life continues to elude you, or you are experiencing chronic stress, talk with a professional -- a counselor, mental health worker, or clergyperson.
The process of achieving a healthy work-life balance is like becoming a professional athlete or training for a triathlon. It takes a concerted effort to get in shape and a continued effort to stay that way. But those who commit themselves to this quest reap enormous health and quality-of-life benefits.
It is possible to have a successful professional career and a fulfilling personal life. Take control of your work. Be proactive with your time. Get a (balanced) life.