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.
What do you think about a $250,000 annual income? Is it worth it to bust butt earn and keep that job if you like it 60% of the time and sacrifice the balance?
I think many people would answer that differently. To me, you need to be able to enjoy all aspects of your life and have the time to do so. If you spend every week working 12 hour days just to get a big paycheck that you have no time to spend and enjoy than to me it isn’t worth it. That salary would be great but only in the context of having a balanced life. I personally wouldn’t feel fulfilled if my life was only composed of a job I was good at and liked. Family, friends, a mate, travel, etc. are also very important to me.
Developing the organization of your day,week and month is important to find balance. If you don’t stick to it…. well, the old habits will sneak in on ya!
So true. Believe me I know. I actually used to lead quite an unbalanced life. I almost had a breakdown. Since making an effort to schedule things and be realistic, I have been doing much better.
Nice post and good suggestions. With the arrival of our daughter twenty months ago, my wife and I have got into the habit of eating dinner at the dinner table. That’s a nice time to relax with the family and chat about the day with no distractions. We’re also making a more conscious effort to schedule time with friends.
Glad to hear. It is easy to let good habits like this go by the wayside when big life change happens. I am glad to hear you have made an effort to keep them up.
My hubby and I also make an effort to have dinner together every day after work. I think it keeps us grounded and connected after a day apart. I plan on keeping this up when we have kids.
Eating together as a family (without a tv going!) is a way to build stability into our lives. Studies show that kids who eat with the family 4-5 times a week do better in school. We all need that touchstone.
So many people put their current lives on hold while they work non-stop towards a goal. When they reach the goal they don’t know what to do other than set a new goal. Real happiness comes in the journey and learning to build balance in our lives brings that happiness.
Well said Maggie. Yes, the journey is most important.
As far as eating together, this is something my hubby and I do every day. I think it is important to keep that connection to one another without any distraction.
I recently reduced my hours by turning down a big project. Actually I asked for the flexibility to work from home at night, knowing they’d say no. It has done wonders for my stress and my family life.
That’s great. Any way you can find that can reduce stress is great. People underestimate the damage stress can do. They just think it is part of life and no point in trying to get rid of it.
It is easy to get caught up on one activity ignoring others. Becomes a bad habit if not checked!
Balance is key to happiness.
Agreed although it seems easier said than done.
I so needed to read something like this! Thank you! I have worked almost non-stop now for several months – long hours and all – and find that my life is loosing its taste. There isn’t much joy and laughter in it. Time for restoring the balance, I think. Oh, and research shows that it doens;t matter whether we like what we do or not, we get ill if we work over 40 hours a week.
Tell that to the employers who expect a minimum of 60 hours a week. Whatever happened to the 40-hour work week? And now people look down on unions. There should be a balance between the rights of employers and employees, but I don’t think we’ll see it in this economy.
True. Employers need to be on board. I think it is coming slowly but it will take time. Eventually they will realize balanced employers are more productive and cheaper employees. There is a lot less sick time used when someone is well and balanced.
Glad this was helpful. Finding balance is actually my goal for 2012. So far I have been off to a good start. Hope you too can start feeling more balanced and get your work under control.
It’s not easy to go against the grain. The corporation always want you to work more every year. Do more with less and other BS slogans have been gaining momentum over the past few years. Anyway, we all have to find what works for us.
You are right. It isn’t easy and it will require a change in culture for many places. However, it is not impossible. We can make changes. Remember we are in control of our lives, not anyone else.
Great post Miss T. This is hard to do at times, but I think you outline some great tips to employ in order to make sure that it isn’t a habit. I agree there is a lot you can do to keep things on track. Cheers!
I think the first step is realization that we are off balance. From there we can actually make change.
if I plan my days and weeks, I will have to sacrifice the family time just for planning purpose. When I reduce work time, I will lose on earning more and growing higher.
You shouldn’t look at it so negative. There are things you can do to find more balance in your life. Start small with a few things. You only get one life remember. You mind as well make the best of it. There is always a way.
For years I worked 14-16 hours a day & barely saw my wife & kids. It’s sad a medical emergency is what it took to get me to stop, look around & realize I was making bad decisions.
I’ve spent more time with them in the last 3 years than I did for the 8 or 9 before that. I found ways to make more money without spending so much time doing it.
That is great to hear. I am so glad you have had a chance to make a change instead of it being too late. It always seems clarity comes with disaster. I guess that phrase ” I saw my life flashed before my eyes ” has more weight than people realize.
Wonderful post! Money isn’t everything. Also thanks for the reminder to spend time with family. I have to admit, after a long day at work, I go straight to the blog. Need to remember to spend quality time with the Mrs. Thanks!
Glad to hear the Mrs. will be a priority. It’s important for the longevity of your relationship. Plus life is meant to be enjoyed in all aspects.