Achieving Work/Life Balance
Achieving work life balance – purposeful design of a meaningful life
“Pick a couple things that are really, really important to you. Let some other things go that maybe aren’t as important in your life. You can design a life that is valuable and meaningful for you and your family.” ~Gretchen Mall, sales bombshell.
The first step to work life balance is to determine what, in your life, do you find valuable? If your answer is “work,” take a step back. This is about balancing work with the rest of your life. Start by identifying what parts of your life are most important to you. Next, move on to things you want in life that you don’t yet have. What steps could you take, this week, this month, this year, to achieve that goal? Thinking about it is good, but writing it down is better. This is a time to reflect on what you really want – today and in the future.
Next, identify areas of your life that take time, but are not very important to you. Are you attending a book club that no longer brings you joy and fulfillment? Do you teach a class that is no longer worth your time and effort (extra money be damned!). This, too, should be written down.
Let go of your perfectionism
If you want to change your life, you’re going to have to do some changing. As a preliminary matter, accept that change is messy. Things aren’t going to be perfect while you shift gears. You are going to have to try new methods and you will make some mistakes. Be patient with yourself as you move through this process.
Identify things in your life that you can’t eliminate but can delegate, and then delegate them. For example, can you afford to hire a housecleaning service once a week? How about assigning your kid the task of doing the laundry? Order your groceries online, and save yourself a trip to the store. Surely you don’t need to do absolutely everything you are currently doing. Identify at least one thing to delegate. Baby steps.
Identify and reduce time sucks
Keep a time diary for a week. You may be surprised at how much time you spend on the internet, cooking, or commuting. Once you’ve identified the things that take the most time, take active steps to reduce or eliminate them. Too much time cruising the web? Set a timer and limit your screen time. Commute too long? Can you adjust your hours for an earlier or later start? Can you participate in a car pool or take public transportation so you can tackle email or pursue your passion during the ride?
Manage your time
Hand in hand with identifying and reducing time sucks, managing your time is critical to your own self care. There are many things in life that can expand to fill the time available. This can be true for lunches with friends, phone calls with family, or even attempting to sort out the junk drawer. Determine how much time you want to spend on any given task, and limit yourself to that time.
Learn to say no
You can’t be all things to all people. Bearing in mind your new priorities, your schedule of commitments, especially the commitments you have made to yourself in pursuit of your new work life balance, say “no” to commitments that are inconsistent with your goals.
Ask for help
Delegating is when you simply assign a task to someone else. Asking for help can be a bit more humbling. However, if there is a situation a friend or family member could help out with, asking is a far more efficient way of getting help than merely hoping and wishing they would offer.
Consider a staycation
In a continued quest for self care, consider a staycation. Take some valuable time off at work and just stay home (and off your work email account!). You could take a week off at once, or consider something a bit more radical. What if you took the third Tuesday of every month off? Just for you. You might be amazed at the rejuvenating effect this can have on your outlook.
Schedule time for yourself
Scheduling time for yourself is a critical part of self care. If you don’t schedule it, you may very well look up at the end of each day, finding you haven’t taken time for yourself. If you write it in your planner, and make a commitment to keep the time, you are more likely to succeed.
Design your life
Designing a life that is meaningful and valuable to you and your family requires deliberate thought a determined action. Taking baby steps to change your life can have a cumulative effect over time. What’s your dream life? Map it out and go get it!