In this final part of our work-life balance series, we offer a checklist that you can use to unlock the key elements in developing a work-life balance strategy. With practice and focus you will be on your way to a happier, healthier and more productive personal and professional life.
The wish for all workers is to find a profession or means of deriving an income that is inclusive of our more existential passions and beliefs; unfortunately, most of us aren’t so lucky and work becomes a means to an end. The following strategies are nothing new or mysterious. Indeed, how they might solve the conundrum of work-life balance depends on the needs and psychological makeup of each person.
Recognize the role of work
Work plays a significant part in life. It can provide material and spiritual sustenance. It can define your self-image and your position in society. But work can also become a burden and depleting factor in the enjoyment of our lives. The fact is, most of us may be surprised that a wide variety of work can provide enjoyment and fulfillment in our lives. Often, once weight is given to the life-balance of a profession, economics can take a back seat to helping us find contentment in our daily lives.
Don't be afraid to unplug
Becoming overly immersed in our jobs can become a diversion from what really is important to us. Most companies don’t want employees to become burned out and unproductive. All of us have different burnout levels and that can correlate closely with our abilities and interests. Before letting work overcome your life, analyze if the job is right for you or if all you need is a break to re-charge your energy and interest. Don’t be afraid to admit when you are not having work-life balance and resolve to find a solution.
Create to a daily routine and make time for yourself
To gain a work-life balance you need a plan. To start, you must reflect on your mental clarity, emotional capacity, relationships and creativity and what is important to you. Once you know how to keep yourself “in balance,” develop a plan to integrate your personal needs with your work demands. If you like to exercise, plan a schedule that will allow you to integrate your work-out schedule with your daily job responsibilities. If you like to paint or read, get up early. If you want more time with the family, allocate specific times and activities devoted to family. Whatever you decide, try to develop a routine that can provide enough exposure to the life balancing activities that can help balance the work activities.
Take your vacation
Re-creation is recreation. Take a break from your normal work routine. If you think that taking your vacation is a sign of your dedication or lack thereof, you are placing your work-life ahead of your personal-life. If there are subtle pressures to place your life second to that of the needs of the company, you place yourself in jeopardy of being seen as a weak slave of the company and may be treated as such. In the end, never fall in love with a corporation or a job as they both can disappear.
Make yourself a valuable employee
If you are viewed as an important part of the company and a reliable employee, it is much easier to negotiate a work-life balance. Once a successful compromise has been achieved, you must make sure that your performance and value to the company does not diminish. This is not just about you but about other employees that might also have work-life balance issues.
Know what you need in your life
It’s sad but true that many-if not most of us do not really know what is important to ourselves. Many buy into the work ethic of our forefathers while others prefer to place less emphasis on the expectations of others. The goal is for you to define what work-life balance means to you. If you choose to not confront this important self-assessment, then you may well have abdicated the ability to shape your own life. When all is said and done, we are all responsible for our own happiness.
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