Importance of Work-Life Balance – 8 Secrets to Make it Possible for You
A balance between work and life has become one of the most desired but also most elusive goals for everyone who works a nine to five job. The importance of work-life balance. It seems like everybody is talking about it, but rarely anyone really has the strength to achieve it.
Sorry, let me correct myself, it seems like everybody is accepting it cause it becomes the norm for most of us including myself.
According to the report, 11% of American workers say they work 50 or more hours a week, while 33% even find themselves working weekends and holidays. This means almost half of the US population is working overtime, neglecting what is truly important – their private lives.
Unfortunately, I have to say that I’ve been a member of this inglorious group for a long time. I really struggled to maintain healthy relationships with my family and friends while chasing career opportunities.
Soon enough, I realized that I’m about to reach the point of no return, so I decided to make a big change. It took me a while before I learned how to deal with it, but at least I became an expert in this field. That’s why I want to share with you eight secrets to balancing work and family life. Here they are!
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” Dolly Parton
1. Make a Decision to Change
You can discuss the subject as much as you want, but the real change starts with a firm decision. You need to be clear about your objectives, making a conscious conclusion that your current lifestyle is not sustainable in the long run.
It takes a good plan to begin with. For instance, you can set a few basic goals to test yourself and see if you are able to follow the tempo. There are a wide variety of things to consider here, but I recommend you start with the usual suspects:
- Turn off the phone: Almost 60% of workers said technology had ruined the modern day family dinner. If you keep receiving calls and messages in the evening, make a decision to silence or completely turn off your mobile device after 6 PM.
- Spend weekends with family: This is one of the work-life balance essentials. You must dedicate more time to your family members and organize joint activities. Weekends should be reserved for activities such as camping, hiking, family gatherings, movies, etc. Even if you need to clean up, you can do it together because it’s yet another way families spend time together.
- Be creative: Always keep your imagination involved. Think about interesting activities to do with your kids both indoor and outdoor.
Such objectives may seem small, but they will actually mark a big change in your life. You just need to make that much-needed first step and the rest will follow.
2. Understand Your Priorities
Struggling with the importance of work-life balance, it is obvious that you want to put a greater emphasis on your family. However, it requires a lot of thinking and patience. One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome in this process was to distinguish between important and less important stuff. I suggest you do the same, figuring out what really matters.
It means you need to understand your priorities in and out of the office. You can do it in many different ways because it depends on the number of to-do items on your list, but there are a few popular techniques to consider. In my opinion, the best solution is to divide duties into four groups:
- Urgent and important: These activities are the most important priority and you should try to solve them as soon as possible. Everything else will be addressed later.
- Important but not urgent: This is the second set of tasks you ought to complete. Although not urgent, don’t waste time because it obviously means a lot to you.
- Urgent but not important: The third group of duties includes small things that don’t really make a substantial difference in life. Try to solve them quickly, but don’t neglect more important stuff because of it.
- Not urgent and not important: Here’s where things get a lot easier. If you don’t have time to deal with such activities, don’t do it. Spend your time solving other problems instead.
3. Prioritize Flexibility
I’ve come to the very important detail in the work-life balance strategy. You need to prioritize flexibility in order to ensure a more comfortable way of living. However, it’s easy to say it but very hard to realize it because it requires some serious communication efforts from your side.
If you are looking for a new job or plan to change positions, it is critical to explain your needs to the future employer. In case you don’t want to switch jobs, you need to talk to the boss and let him/her know about your work-life philosophy.
Of course, you are not supposed to take an aggressive approach as it will probably backfire. Make it a calm and rational conversation, trying to explain your reasons for more flexibility. After that, you should ask for additional benefits that will make both your job and private life much easier.
These are never impossible demands. On the contrary, it’s enough to get permission for a few extra days off or to work remotely in case something unexpected is happening at home. It’s a reasonable demand that most superiors will accept as natural. Be ready, however, to accept a paycheck reduction in case you want additional privileges.
It may seem like too big a sacrifice at first, but you will get used to it quickly. After all, it does come with a fair share of bonus benefits, so there is no reason to be angry about it. Keep in mind that you are not alone: nearly half of American workers would forgo the corner office job and a high salary to gain more flexibility in their schedules.
4. Talk to Your Friends and Family
Since you want to improve the work-life balance, it is completely natural to keep your family and friends involved. These are the people you trust, so they will be the closest support group that helps you make it through the difficult period.
First of all, you should get them acquainted with your personal goals. Tell them about the overall strategy, most significant duties, and ways to achieve it. Friends and family can help you to follow progress, but also to remind you of the tasks you might have forgotten.
Secondly, you should seek advice from your closest. They know you very well, so don’t be afraid of asking for their opinions. For instance, your spouse could give you a few suggestions related to leisure time and parenting. On the other hand, a friend from college could probably give you advice about productivity and how to become more focused.
Use all these suggestions to make substantial work-life improvements. Most of all, enjoy the privilege of family support and make it your source of inspiration in this long lasting process.
5. Find Time For Yourself
If you want to spend more quality time with your family, you must pay attention to your own needs first. Your spouse and kids will notice when you are too exhausted to hang out with them, so make sure to avoid work burnout.
Once again, this is easier said than done. But it’s not impossible!
Begin with small things. For example, you need to stop skipping that office break. Go out for a short walk, grab a bite, and come back to work completely fresh. You are not wasting time, but rather saving it because you’ll become more productive.
Besides that, you should exercise at least two or three times a week. It doesn’t have to be a professional training session – it’s enough to go jogging for about 30 minutes or even attend yoga classes. Do whatever makes you feel healthier and more comfortable.
Another tip is to save some time for yourself once the kids fall asleep. Use this period of the day to read, watch TV, or do anything else that helps you relax.
6. Take Advantage of Technology
Although most people suffer from technology overuse and consider it to be among the top causes of work-life imbalance, it really doesn’t have to be like that. As a matter of fact, I learned that technology could help me detect unhealthy habits and improve the quality of life in general.
You are probably wondering now: How is this possible? Well, the answer is simple: You just need to utilize the right tools to make your daily routine better. In my experience, the following tools can make the biggest impact:
- Time Tune: This app will help you to determine your current work-life time split. It gives you precise metrics related to your daily habits and time management, so you can fix the pain points.
- Break Free: It’s a tool that monitors your browsing habits to warn you about questionable choices. For instance, you might be spending too much time on Twitter, and Break Free will suggest you focus on other, more important things.
- Pacifica: Work-life imbalance makes us all stressed out. Pacifica offers you relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety and chill out.
- Cozi: I mentioned the importance of prioritization already. Cozi is the right tool for task management, putting together all of your plans, tasks, shopping lists, etc.
- Weekly Planner: It’s another time management app that let you schedule and exercise weekly activities without forgetting crucial things.
7. Remember That Work-Life Balance Is Hard To Achieve
Sooner or later, you will have to face the harsh reality and admit the importance of work-life balance, though it’s hard to achieve but not impossible. You better prepare for it before you start balancing between the two components or you might end up feeling disappointed after a while.
As much as you keep trying, you won’t always be able to walk the thin line that establishes a perfect equilibrium of life events. Sometimes you will have to work overtime to complete the most essential business projects. Such things really demand more effort from your side, so the family will have to suffer for a little while.
Another example: your child is not feeling well and you need to take him/her to the hospital. In such circumstances, you will lose a lot of office time and you’ll have to make it up sometime soon.
These are all small but unpredicted events that occasionally distort the harmony of work-life balance. But you need to keep in mind one thing – this process is a marathon, not a sprint. The only thing that really matters is to establish a sustainable lifestyle in the long run. As soon as you do it, you will be alright with the occasional surprises both privately and professionally.
8. Monitor Your Progress
With everything you’ve seen so far, I guess you are ready to launch the new phase of your work-life balance adventure. The only thing left to note here is that you need to be careful and monitor your progress regularly.
Remember the first tactic, decision making, and goal setting? Well, you should keep that in mind and analyze the achievements from time to time. Did you really stop using a mobile phone after work? Did you start spending weekends with your friends and family? Did you achieve all those objectives that took you hours of brainstorming?
If yes, you are on the right track and just need to continue that way. But if the answer is no, then you need to reconsider your entire strategy to see what’s wrong with it. Perhaps you are too optimistic and bite off more than you can chew? Maybe you need to take things slowly and reduce the number of goals?
Whatever it may be, make sure to adjust your work-life planning. Determine smaller but more achievable goals that you can fulfill sooner. Only when you see they’re within your reach, move on to the more difficult objectives.
The Importance of Work-Life Balance – Yes, it’s Possible, Only if You Work for it
Balancing between work and private life is getting increasingly difficult. Everybody wants to earn enough money to make a decent living, but they also want to spend quality time with their family. This is, unfortunately, extremely difficult to achieve these days. I faced the same problem but didn’t want to let it ruin my family relations.
After a long period of tryouts and introspection, I finally found the way out. In this post, I shared with you eight secrets to balancing work and family life. Feel free to give these tips a try, and let me know in comments how it worked out for you. Good luck!