Work Life Balance

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									Work/Life Balance
How to successfully balance your work and home life
Table of Contents
Seven Successful Strategies for Work/Life Balance ...................................................................... 4
   Prioritize...................................................................................................................................... 4
   Virtual office ............................................................................................................................... 5
   Manage your day......................................................................................................................... 6
   Take time for yourself ................................................................................................................. 7
   Learn to say no ............................................................................................................................ 8
   Simplify....................................................................................................................................... 8
   Ask for help................................................................................................................................. 9
More Ways to Balance .................................................................................................................. 10
Full Circle Balance ....................................................................................................................... 12




© Copyright 2010 Docstoc Inc.                                                                                                      2
Work/Life Balance
How to successfully balance your work and home life




Deadlines. Projects. Emails. Meetings. Conference calls. More and more work and less and less
time.


Sometimes, your job can feel like it’s full time times ten. And with a more global, international
economy and never-ending advances in communication technology such as the Blackberry,
iPhone, and laptops with wireless internet access, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being at work
even when you’re away from the office.


Carpools. Family gatherings. Kid’s sporting events. Hobbies. And a little bit of sleep and time
for yourself.


Sometimes, your home life can feel like it deserves more time and attention as well. In addition,
certain family challenges such as caring for ailing parents or sick kids or financial issues can also
distract you from work.


When your work and home life are out of balance, you can feel everything from exhaustion to
depression to frustration to exasperation, so it makes a lot of sense to invest a little time and
energy in balancing this equation. The goal, then, is to find the right balance for you that leads to
good quality of life.


The math can feel a little complicated when it comes developing to an effective equation for
work/life balance. While your work and home life can tip out of balance if you’re not careful, by
using some thoughtful strategies and uncovering what’s most important to you, you can create a
happier and healthier work/life balance.




© Copyright 2010 Docstoc Inc.                                                              3
Seven Successful Strategies for Work/Life Balance


If you feel like your work life, your home life, or both are suffering, refer to the following seven
strategies for finding balance:



Prioritize


   First and foremost, take a couple hours to determine what is really, truly important to you.
   Ultimately, these are the things you should focus on because they are the things that will
   bring you happiness and satisfaction.


   On its website, WebMD recommends that you start by asking yourself: If my life could focus
   on one thing and one thing only, what would that be? Be thoughtful as you answer this
   question.


   If you could add a second thing to that list, what would that item be? And a third? Fourth?
   And, finally, a fifth?


   Your top five might include anything from your family to your health, from traveling to
   community service, from your new small business to your all-time favorite hobby.


   Take some time to develop and refine your top five list (understanding that list will change
   and evolve throughout your life as circumstances change, so you’ll need to come back to this
   exercise periodically).


   Along these same lines, start to recognize the time-wasters in your life – the endless time you
   spend on unnecessary email, the friend who only calls to complain, and the other things that
   take up too much time. Start to let go of these items that take time and don’t give much back
   as you continue to hone your priority list.




© Copyright 2010 Docstoc Inc.                                                            4
   When she had her first child last year, Chicago attorney Susan Zumph says she had to
   completely re-prioritize her life.


   “First of all, I work 40 hours a week now, instead of 50 or even 60, and that’s it,” Zumph
   said. “Secondly, I don’t watch as much tv and I only see my closest friends regularly, so that
   I can spend as much time as possible with my son and husband and still have time to eat and
   sleep. It’s not always easy, but having clear priorities definitely makes my life more
   manageable.”




Virtual office


   One of the things that makes it harder to leave work behind – advances in technology that
   make it easier and easier to check in from just about anywhere – is also one of the things that
   makes it easier to work from home.


   Working from home continues to increase in popularity; it offers employees some
   appreciated flexibility and saves both time and money spent on commuting, and it can also
   save employers money because work stations can be shared and office energy costs can be
   reduced, not to mention that employees feel more valued when they’re offered some
   flexibility in work schedules.


   Your employer can always say no, but it never hurts to ask: Consider requesting one day a
   week from home or even a schedule that allows you to go in an hour later if that means you
   can get your kids off to school and still have time to eat breakfast and read the paper in the
   morning.


   Other potential options worth considering include job-sharing with a colleague, full-time
   telecommuting, and asking for reduced work hours, perhaps going from full-time to part-time
   employment.



© Copyright 2010 Docstoc Inc.                                                           5
   Finally, if you are consistently unhappy at work and are unable to make appropriate
   adjustments or work from home, it might be time to consider looking for a new job – or a
   new career altogether.


   And if you do start working from home, you also have the complication of having to guard
   your time there as well. When your office is just a few feet from the kitchen and the living
   well, it’s easier to stay at work late at night and to check in on the weekends. Give yourself
   clear boundaries and time expectations if you work at home.




Manage your day


   How effective and efficient are you with your time? Do you spend most of your day at the
   office focused on your critical tasks or do you gossip with your colleagues each morning
   over coffee, take a long lunch, email friends, and then find yourself frantic at the end of the
   day?


   Each morning, make a list of the two or three (not 10 or 12, because that’s simply not
   reasonable) items that you need to accomplish that day and then dig in right away. Learn to
   focus on results.


   Then, take the word procrastination out of your vocabulary and out of your day; set realistic
   goals and deadlines for yourself and then make yourself accountable for accomplishing more
   in a little less time, if possible. You might find that you can accomplish in 30 hours what you
   used to spend 50 hours on.


   Likewise, you should also manage your time outside of work – make sure you parcel off time
   that cannot be taken over by email, work calls, or never-ending projects. Include a little time
   for family, friends, exercise, volunteering, and the other things that are most important to
   you.



© Copyright 2010 Docstoc Inc.                                                           6
Take time for yourself


   This item is so important and so easy to overlook. In essence, if you don’t take enough time
   for yourself and for the things that really matter to you, you won’t be much good to anyone
   else.


   Everyone knows what it’s like to fall into this trap – you’re busy at work, busy with the kids,
   and increasingly overwhelmed with a growing list of demands, so you stop going to the gym,
   stop getting together with your girlfriends or the guys, stop slowing down to appreciate the
   small things, and then suddenly, you’re so tired you can’t think straight or you get sick and
   have to spend a week in bed.


   Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night and eat a balanced and healthy diet – when
   you eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein and skip the candy,
   soda, and potato chips, you will feel better and have more energy for your busy day. And try
   to include some regular exercise – even if it’s a short but brisk walk or fitness class over your
   lunch break or a yoga DVD three or four nights a week before you go to bed. Exercise
   reduces stress, helps you sleep, keeps your heart healthy, and can give you a genuine feeling
   of accomplishment and personal value.


   Finally, even if you have to schedule it, have some fun! Make sure you do the things that
   make you happy and help you feel balanced and fulfilled. Whether this is gardening, the
   movies, a weekend away, or building a new bookcase for your basement, make yourself a
   priority. You might also consider scheduling an occasional “mental health day” for yourself
   so you’re sure to have ample time to just relax and do what you want to do for 24 straight
   hours.


   “Sometimes it’s tough to get going extra early, but every Thursday morning, I wake up an
   hour earlier than usual and take a 45-minute ice skating lesson at my local rink,” Zumph



© Copyright 2010 Docstoc Inc.                                                           7
   added. “I absolutely love it, it’s a good workout, and it brings a smile to my face that lasts all
   day.”




Learn to say no


   This one, then, can be tough for many people who’ve spent their lives learning how to say
   yes, but you can do it nicely.


   Learn to say no to your colleagues (and that includes your boss), your family members, your
   neighbors, and your friends when you recognize that you’ve taken on too much. They will
   respect you more for saying no nicely than for saying yes and not being able to follow
   through well.


   Say no when you’re over-tired or overwhelmed. Say no when your to-do list is already too
   long. Say no when you feel like your health is being adversely affected. Say no when you
   need to.


   This also harkens back to prioritizing – when you know what’s most important to you, it’s
   easier to say no to the things that aren’t. Learn to let go of unnecessary things, tasks, and to-
   do’s.




Simplify


   Just like strategy number five, learn to say no, step six asks you to let go a little bit as you
   focus on simplifying.


   Look at your list of priorities again and determine what else you’re doing or scheduling or
   acquiring that you can let go of.


© Copyright 2010 Docstoc Inc.                                                              8
   As you simplify, perhaps you will decide to stop serving on three different committees at
   your daughter’s school and simply choose the one you enjoy most and that makes the biggest
   impact. Perhaps you will also stop watching so much tv every night so that you can spend
   some quality family time and still have time to get organized for the next day. Perhaps you
   will ask your manger if you can work three full days instead of five half days to save time on
   commuting.


   Other ways to simplify can include using an online bill payment system that most banks offer
   (you can have bills automatically debited from your account each month), cutting back on the
   number of magazines you subscribe to at work and home, cleaning out and organizing your
   office and closets a couple times a year to pare back and let go of the unnecessary stuff, and
   also preparing larger meals that you can then put in the freezer or use as leftovers during the
   week.


   Let go of clutter in your life, at home and work, and refocus on the simple pleasures in your
   life.




Ask for help


   Never be afraid to ask for help, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed or depressed. Many
   companies have employee assistance programs that offer free help and advice on both work
   and personal issues. You can also turn to friends or colleagues who seem to have successfully
   navigated work/home life balance and ask them what their strategies for successful balance
   are.


   In addition, you can talk to your manager and tell him or her that you’re overwhelmed at
   work and ask for additional assistance on specific projects or responsibilities. Try to do this
   before you get so far behind that you’ll never catch up and project confidence, rather than


© Copyright 2010 Docstoc Inc.                                                           9
   whininess, as you make your request. Remind your manager of your key accomplishments as
   well.


   Finally, you should ask for help at home, too – maybe the kids start tackling the laundry or
   maybe you get a babysitter every Saturday night. Maybe you ask your spouse or partner to
   better share responsibilities or maybe you consider a monthly cleaning service to lighten your
   load. Other options include asking for help from your relatives, hiring a dog walker, using a
   grocery delivery service, or finding a neighborhood kid who can mow and rake your lawn or
   help with other household chores.


   Asking for help can be a great decision.




More Ways to Balance


   In addition to these seven successful work/life balance strategies, keep the following tips and
   ideas in mind:


© Copyright 2010 Docstoc Inc.                                                          10
         Neither work or home is the enemy. Sometimes, however, we are our own worst
          enemies as we take on too much and create unnecessary stress and havoc. Remember
          this when you’re feeling a little stressed and inclined to take that aggression out on
          the closest person.


         Continue to hone and enhance your skills. Jump at every training or educational
          opportunity that you’re offered through work or your community – not only will you
          improve your current skills and develop some new ones, but you might also discover
          more ways to be efficient and effective and you might even find a new career
          opportunity.


         Sometimes, just taking 10 really deep, really slow conscious breaths can make a big
          difference. Even better, try sitting still in a quiet place and meditating for just five or
          10 minutes every day, focusing on your breath and letting everything else go as you
          tune in to your inhale and exhale.


         Slow down a little! People tend to make more mistakes when they’re rushing
          frantically from task to task, from event to event, from work to home, and from the
          grocery store to the bank. Take the time to do things well the first time and to notice
          the small joys in life, whether it’s the first sign of spring, a happy child, a great cup of
          coffee, or an hour all to yourself.


         Guard your personal time. After you’ve established some regular time for yourself,
          remind yourself that this is your time and beware of family and work slowly taking
          over.


         Consider either a personal coach or a career coach who can give you customized tips
          and advice and also act as your personal cheerleader as you make sometimes-difficult
          decisions about both your career and personal life. Even a couple sessions with a
          coach can make a difference.


© Copyright 2010 Docstoc Inc.                                                             11
         Worry less about what other people think and more about how you feel. This simple
          (but sometimes challenging) step can make a tremendous amount of difference in
          your life!


         You can also check out books or books on CD about work/life balance at your local
          library or bookstore. Search online for more articles and resources as you work on
          balance in your life.


         Trust yourself. Learn to really listen to your gut instincts when they’re telling you to
          let go of or change something. You are always your own best teacher.


         Celebrate your successes, whether small or large, at work or at home, and to also
          celebrate the successes of those around you. Take time to appreciate yourself and
          others.


         Finally, reevaluate regularly. Your priorities will change. Your needs will change.
          Your schedule will change. Even your family and your job will change. Every six
          months or so, take another hour or two to sit down and reevaluate where you’re at
          with work/life balance and where you want to be. Don’t be afraid to make changes as
          they’re needed.




Full Circle Balance


   If you spend too much time at work, you will miss out on an enjoyable and satisfying
   personal life. On the flip side, if you spend too much time stressed out at home, your job can
   suffer. The goal, then, is to find that happy medium where everything is in balance, at least
   most of the time.



© Copyright 2010 Docstoc Inc.                                                           12
   Take regular time for yourself and for your top priorities as you walk this personal balance
   beam. And remember, balance isn’t a static thing – it will change from day to day and year to
   year.


   If you feel like your life is in balance most of the time, then congratulations on a tremendous
   accomplishment.


   “Work and life balance isn’t easy, but after a year, I finally feel like I have a pretty good
   handle on it,” Chicago resident Zumph added. “I enjoy my family time and feel productive at
   work. I have a little time for my favorite hobbies and favorites friends, and I feel pretty lucky
   and pretty balanced.”


   The key, of course, is balance.




© Copyright 2010 Docstoc Inc.                                                            13
								
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