What is work/life balance? After many years in the workforce, I still am not sure that there is one complete answer to that question. It turns out the definition is somewhat ambiguous, because it’s a question that we each have to ask and answer for ourselves.
It is my theory that we generally understand what work/life balance is and its importance because when we don’t have it – we experience stress and unpleasant side effects.
Find your balance
So, is work/life balance finding more time for family and friends, an exercise routine, or spiritual and creative expression? Yes, no doubt. Is it working hard so you can play hard, or take that extended, exotic vacation each year? Possibly. For some, it may even be about being able to take your earned vacation around an ever-demanding schedule. The point is, others can’t define what work/life balance is for you. Taking time out to thoughtfully consider the meaning, and determining what it represents in your world is the first step to creating a sense of balance, and over time, actually achieving it.
Reading related articles can assist in your initial self-reflection and then you can begin journaling. Writing down where your time goes or whatever it is you’d like to carve time out for is an important step forward. Seeing the distribution of how your time is spent throughout the workweek allows you to determine where you can potentially re-arrange your schedule.
Prioritize and schedule
Think of it like creating a financial budget: once you’ve evaluated and identified where you’re allowing a greater pull in one area at the expense of another, you can then begin to make decisions about where you are ready to trim back. Choose specific days or time slots for your new activities and then begin to physically schedule them so you create a structure for the new activities you wish to incorporate. Actually scheduling on your calendar will help you change the flow of your day.
However, don’t limit your calendar to Monday through Friday in the beginning when you’re working to eliminate schedule “creep.” You may think of weekends as free time, but when duty calls, that trip to the museum or morning yoga/spin class can suddenly be put on the back burner.
Take advantage of your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if you have access to that resource. These programs provide support by offering a variety of tools to help manage the demands of professional and personal life. Your overall health and wellness can depend on striking a balance and recognizing when work or personal demands are absorbing an inordinate amount of your time and you need assistance re-balancing.
Set a mid-year resolution
What about a mid-year resolution? Define what work/life balance means for you. Consider the physical, emotional and intellectual aspects, and as you begin your journey in pursuit of a greater sense of balance, strike up conversations with others to become an advocate for the Quest for Work/Life Balance. You’ll likely be supporting others in their own journey!