Creating a balance between work and home is a tall order. Late nights on the job don't mix with your child's soccer season. Extra work over the holidays doesn't bode well for family traditions. It's a tough, but popular, ambition to have--reaching equilibrium between your professional and personal identities. And it can be done with some planning and forward thinking.
Your best bet? Set specific goals to achieve both at home and at work. Create 2 lists of objectives and put them side-by-side. Now it's time to see how you can achieve items on both lists without driving yourself crazy.
Understanding the conflict
Maybe you want to earn a promotion in the next six months at work, and at home you want to eat dinner with your family at least 4 nights during the week. Your first instinct may be to panic and think, How can I stay late to do extra work and make a good impression with my boss if I need to be home by 6:00 to eat dinner?
Thinking about these types of conflicts is the first step in achieving work/life balance. Scan through your two lists and see what items on your work list will really be tough because of items on your home list, and vice versa. Now you have goals as well as conditions under which they must be achieved.
Yes, it seems a tougher situation now. But in reality, you just have a better understanding of what you have to work with.
Thinking outside of the box
Once you know where the biggest conflicts are occurring, you can start working on the answers. Now you deal with the stress before it ever happens, and have time to think of alternative solutions. The easiest answer won't always work, so think of another one.
In the example above, staying late at work isn't an option more than one night a week, but maybe you can take a shorter lunch break and complete extra tasks during that half hour you just added to your day.
The planning stages of achieving balance require a lot of alternatives and options. If what you are doing right now isn't working, then it's time to get creative and think of another opportunity!
Taking the time to achieve your balance
There may always be issues that are tough to handle in the balance between personal and professional responsibilities, and they will most certainly not be the easiest issues to work through.
Creating a crystal clear picture of the facts--and your own personal wishes--makes the journey a whole lot easier. A few moments of reflection, a pen and a piece of paper and some creative strategies for success can make all the difference in the long run.