It can be easy to get so caught up with the fast pace of a challenging career that your life gets out of balance. Trust me, I have been there. When this happens, you find that your life isn’t as rewarding and satisfying as it once was. Luckily, it is possible to restore the balance of work, friends and family so that you can enjoy life once again. Here are 5 strategies I found helpful in finding balance.
Be honest with yourself
Many people say that the reason they are working so hard is because of their family but if it means that there is limited quality time spent with the family, more is lost than is gained. Spend some quiet moments of reflection to discover the real reasons you work long hours and to re-set your priorities. Your family would probably prefer to have you around more often than the things your salary buys.
Do you want to continue to work long hours or develop meaningful relationships with family and friends?
Find ways to reduce working hours
On the surface, this may seem an impossible task. However, many workaholics have just got into the habit of working long hours, taking work home, working weekends etc. Take the time to consider how you could be more productive at work, what tasks you can delegate, where best practice can be implemented and so on. Train others to do your job when you are absent. Make changes gradually and tell your family what you are doing.
Plan your day and week
You will find it hard to make any changes if you don’t have a workable plan. In your weekly plan, block out time for family, friends and recreational activities. You will notice increased productivity and less stress at work when you have more time out.
Try these planning tips:
- Have a day planner. Everything should be in your planner – meetings, appointments, birthdays, special events so you don’t miss anything important. You will be surprised how an effective planner can improve your time management in all areas. I like Remember the Milk but whatever will work for you is fine.
- Prepare a to-do list for the next day before you leave work each evening.
- Work out when you are most productive and do the important work at that peak time.
- Avoid interruptions and distractions when you are working at your peak time.
- Block a time for phone calls and emails. Don’t take calls as they come in, unless they are urgent. Return calls and emails during the time you have allocated.
- Leave work at the same time each day to fit in friend or family time.
- Block in time for family and friends and refuse to work at these times.
- Arrive at work early to get a jump start on the day.
- Avoid taking work home at night and limit the amount you have to do on weekends.
Keep family time free
When you have blocked in family time into your planner, make sure you are there for your family. Don’t take phone calls, check emails, write reports etc. Even if friends call, gently let them know that you are with the family and then call them back later. It is up to you to set the boundaries to make sure family time is quality time without interruptions.
Be present with your family. Don’t allow your mind to drift to work issues. Be with them in body and mind; kids especially quickly get when you are not really ‘there’.
Allocate time for friends and recreation
Just like family time, time for friends and relaxation has to be planned. Keep in touch personally, not just via Facebook. Invite friends over for a family barbeque on the weekend, go on family picnics or hikes with another family, catch up with friends for a drink after work or for a quick lunch.
You need downtime from work and the support and sharing with friends and family but it won’t happen unless you plan it. Use these strategies to balance your life and enjoy the benefits of spending quality time with the people who bring meaning to your existence.
So, has balancing life been a challenge for you? What kinds of things have you done to find better balance? Please share.