Creating personal work life balance is an essential skill in today's hectic environment. Avoid stress and enjoy life with this guide to creating balance.
High expectations, new technology and competitive work environments erode the boundaries that should exist between work and personal life.
If you feel your work life scale is unbalanced it may be that one area of your life is demanding most of your time and energy.
And for most of us that area is work.
Stress, frustration, anxiety, depression and burnout are some of the very real effects of poor work life balance.
Adjusting your balance and learning to enjoy many experiences in life will help you to manage and reduce the effects of these symptoms.
The concept of work life integration is often preferred to 'work life balance'. Working towards the goal of successfully integrating your work life and personal life suggests that this is a personal journey.
You create a lifestyle that works for you. There is no set formula that can be applied equally to everyone.
Some people may enjoy spending more time in their work environment. Others might say "family comes first". No-one should judge your decisions as long as your lifestyle is not contributing to increased stress.
In my experience many of us do not realize that stress may be active in our lives and we do what we can to cope. Many of the executives I work with appreciate an objective view as they are not always aware that a few changes can make a great difference to their enjoyment of life.
It's so easy to get caught up in a cycle between work and home.
We spend most of our day at work and then go home in order to eat and sleep so that we can go to work again the next day.
A psychiatrist colleague once told me that this routine is the road to burnout.
If you find that you are caught in a cycle like this then you need to take action and begin to add other interests into your life in order to create some degree of work life integration and avoid stress and burnout.
Perhaps a career change is the answer you need? Time Magazine once reported that 21% of career changes are made to improve work life balance.
More recently Time Magazine has published articles questioning if work life balance exists and noting that men are less likely to take advantage of flexible work schedules.
There are lot's of other things you should be doing to achieve work life integration before you resign and walk out of your job!
Success with work life balance allows you to manage stress and fatigue, and avoid burnout altogether. You'll also have a wider circle of supportive friends and find you're not the one missing those important family events.
One way to understand work life integration is to look after four areas of life:
This means we should concentrate on
We need all four of these for long term work life balance.
What do you need to do to integrate these areas? Here are three questions to consider:
People who enjoy a healthy integration of work and personal life meet these 5 fundamental conditions:
Well, in an ideal world someone with great work life balance would include the following in their day and week:
Now, I'm not sure about you, but if I do the math there are not enough hours in a day to do all of this!
The key is to create these ideals as intentions rather than expectations.
Make it an intention to include these in your week. You don't need to rush into this. Add them at a pace you are comfortable with.
If you are not as successful as you'd like to be, notice what stopped you achieving work life balance. Then try again, this time managing whatever blocked you before.
Achieving work life balance means we need to begin focusing on what is important to us.
You can have it all, but probably not all at once.
Here's my all-time favorite activity for deciding what's most important in your life. I call it...
Do you remember a 1991 movie called City Slickers? One scene I remember is when Curly (Jack Palance) tells Mitch (Billy Crystal) about deciding what's important in life...
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
[holds up one finger]
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don't mean shit.
Mitch: But, what is the "one thing?"
Curly: [smiles] That's what you have to find out.
If you were told to choose the one most important thing in your life to focus on, what would that be? Take a moment right now and decide what's most important to you.
When you've decided on your "one thing" add a few more priorities. After your "one thing" what else is most important in your life? And after that? Write down your top 5 priorities in life.
The secret to achieving work life balance is to focus on your
priorities and to stop doing anything that's not moving you in the right direction.
This is where life coaching and mentoring can be very useful to help you practically move toward work life balance.
Here are some ideas to help you achieve work life balance:
Achieving work life balance means you need to develop attitudes, skills and behaviours that support this in your personal life.
Here are some useful habits that are necessary to develop in the pursuit of work life balance:
Remember, work life balance cannot come from the expertise of professionals.
Real work life balance comes from your own awareness of what's right for you. You can only be happy by being you.
Each of us is different. Some don’t have any need for family. Others have little need for work. Or for money. Or whatever.
Take some time to discover what's important for you. When you know what's important to you learn to put that first. And learn to trust your awareness to continually bring it back into balance.
Work life balance is not something you do once. Make it a habit to assess your balance at regular intervals and make any adjustments that are necessary.
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