The term work-life balance is often used to describe workers who have figured it all out – who don’t appear too stressed at work or frazzled at home. In reality, work-life balance is different for each person and often differs depending on demands of your job. It’s hard to compare work-life balance between a working mom and a young college graduate. The best advice is to figure out your needs and assess your goals. Here are three steps that I think are crucial to help you in your work-life balance journey:
This article by Forbes.com notes that the first step in achieving work-life balance is prioritizing what is important to you. “If you want balance–and not everybody does–you have to force yourself to edit yourself personally and professionally,” says Jody Greenstone Miller, an author and chief executive of Business Talent Group, a supplier of high-end business talent for consulting and project-based roles. I agree that prioritizing is crucial. Since everyone has different priorities, it’s important to make a list or an inventory of what you value. For example, if you want to be attentive each night at dinner, you know that turning off your cell phone and computer during meal times is a high priority. The best way to decisively make a list is to determine what is necessary for you to have a good, productive day and prioritize accordingly.
Secondly, you must be willing to communicate effectively with those in your life (personally and professionally). If your time demands are being pulled in a million directions, you will not be giving sufficient attention to any one person or project. If you would like the flexibility to telecommute or leave early to go to a parent-teacher conference, you must tell your supervisor. Voicing your concerns doesn’t make you appear weak. However, a short-fused, cranky co-worker often goes unnoticed. If you are currently not achieving work-life balance, evaluate how you communicate. More often than not, we feel we are communicating our needs but we are not doing so in an effective manner. Figure out what you need and ask for it.
Lastly, to successfully achieve work-life balance, you must do what you love. Whether it’s your career or a hobby, being passionate about what you are doing makes a great deal of difference. Many people say they don’t realize how much or how hard they work because they truly love their work. These people are having fun at work instead of suffering through the days. If you are not in a career you enjoy, your work-life balance will most likely seem off. If you can’t escape your job due to the economy, add some fun to your non-work hours. You could take a class you enjoy, participate in a book club, or even read a favorite blog at the same time each day. It may seem small, but adding little moments of happiness to each day will make a big difference. If you feel that you are working too hard, it’s time to add more fun to your after-work life. Though the term work-life balance may seem elusive, each one of us can achieve it by proactively deciding how to live our lives.
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