Work-life balance. You’ve heard it a million times but have you achieved it? Work is often one of the top sources of stress. Unfortunately, in today’s world, it is increasingly the exception rather than the rule to find an individual who achieves the balance they seek consistently. There are tools, though, to keep you on track, so you don’t feel overwhelmed with life or work. The two can exist harmoniously together.
Is your life balanced?
When you think about the way you spend your days and weekends, are you satisfied with the allocation of time between work, play, time for family and friends, your ever-present To Do list, and alone time? Does it seem out of balance?
If it does, don’t stress about being stressed. That only makes the situation worse. Having the will to not stress over stress is a powerful first step toward getting your life back in balance.
Most of us equate finding balance with cutting back on tasks or assessing our time differently. While important, it’s not the only way to achieve work-life balance.
It also requires an understanding of how your mind and body connect. When you find balance internally, you’ll feel happier.
Work-life harmony or balance?
While we always talk about work-life balance, that phrase doesn’t always work. You may never find balance – since that means it’s a 50/50 split. Your job duties may still require more time than you have to put into their personal life. Or, your life may take up more of your time depending on the season of life you’re living.
Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos told Business Insider at an awards event that the “work-life” balance phrase is “debilitating” because it means there’s a “trade-off.” He teaches his employees that instead of competing against each other, the relationship is reciprocal. So, if you’re happy at home, you’re happy at work.
He likes to think of it as finding work-life harmony.
“If I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy,” said Bezos. “And if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy. You never want to be that guy — and we all have a coworker who’s that person — who, as soon as they come into a meeting, they drain all the energy out of the room…You want to come into the office and give everyone a kick in their step.”
That’s true. Happiness is contagious at home and in the office. Think about the difference a smile from a friend or coworker makes when you’re having a bad day. It’s the little things in life that sometimes have the most impact!
So, if you’re the worker who walks into work grumpy every day, start small and think of ways to turn that frown upside down. It will impact how you feel and others around you.
We know this is true because science proves it. There’s a circular mind-body connection that acts almost like dominos. We develop thoughts, feelings, and attitudes based on biological, psychological and social factors. Based on these thoughts, positive or negative, we act or don’t act. That happens at home and work.
Finally, our actions or inactions, affect our health and sense of physical and mental well-being. Everything works together in a circle, and like a domino, one emotion or action influences another.
So, if you can’t achieve that 50/50 work-life split, don’t worry. Think about how work and life work harmoniously together. When you look at it through this perspective, you’ll find happiness.
No matter which way you think of it, work-life balance or a circular domino effect where work and life play off each other, here are some tips to achieve your goals.
Work-life harmony tips
First, let’s evaluate whether you have balance in your life. Then, we’ll help you find it if it’s not there now.
Exercise #1: Evaluate
List the components that make up your life. For example, family, work, money, health, spirituality, fun/recreation, etc.
Assign a weight from 1 – 5 relative to the importance of each, where 1 = necessary and 5 = can’t live without it.
If everything is equally important, then nothing is important enough.
Now make a second column. Assign each item a number from 1-5 relative to how satisfied you are right now with its importance vs. the amount of time and energy you spend on it.
Are your scales balanced? Is something important but the commitment and time you spend on it low? Is something less important but the energy you dedicate to it high?
Exercise #2: Find ways to create balance
Now, that you’ve evaluated your life here’s a second work-life balance tip.
Select an item of high importance that you’re allocating few resources to. Do you want to make a change? Are you ready to do something about the imbalance which currently exists?
Spend 30 minutes identifying some ways you can create more balance.
Select one action. Focus on it and achieve work-life balance or harmony one step at a time!
Exercise #3: Live mindfully
Live in the present. Studies show multitasking doesn’t work. Usually, one task suffers because you can’t be fully committed to two tasks at the same time. That is even true for self-proclaimed multitasking experts! Focus on one thing at a time.
Try exercises like mindfulness to help you achieve this.
Leave work at work. Don’t check emails or stress over work tasks when you’re at home. Focus on your family and personal life.
Set your phone to “do not disturb.” On newer model iPhones, it’s as easy as swiping up and hitting the moon icon on the menu bar. It’s more powerful than silencing your phone because it turns off all notifications and phone calls. In silent mode, your phone may still vibrate or light up when you get a message or call. If you go into your settings, you have even more advanced settings to silence your phone during certain hours of the day or only from certain people.
You’re not going to get rid of all your stress quickly. It takes time. Invest time in your well-being! The Be Less Stressed guidebook takes you on a 12-month journey to manage your stress better. Using exercises and small steps, you’ll learn how to live in the present and reduce overwhelm.
When you do this, you’ll find you’re more productive and like a domino that in turn helps you feel more satisfied and fulfilled.
Exercise #4: “Me” Time
Focus on you! Exercise, eat well, get enough sleep, and engage in activities that bring you joy. It’s crucial that you’re happy and feeling fulfilled from the inside out when you’re looking for work-life harmony.
Spend some time working through these exercises.
In a few months, evaluate what changes you’ve made.
Don’t neglect “me time.” It’s important to replenish your energy and nurture your spirit. That way you can manage the work and personal stress.
Are you reaching for work-life balance or harmony and how have you been able to achieve it?
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