It is no secret that life in the modern professional workforce requires serious dedication. However, what can be a big secret is how successful professionals manage to balance the stress and responsibility of their work life, with the inevitable stress and responsibility of their home life.
Therefore, revealed here are 10 secrets to help committed professionals get closer to achieving a sustainable balance between their career and their personal life. While some of these points may seem too simple and obvious to be valuable secrets – that is when we realize that we already hold the key to taking control of our lives – we just have to realize how to turn it.
1 – Balance
In order to balance our work and our life commitments, we need to think of them as two sides of the same coin. Instead of seeing our work and home as two parts of our lives competing for attention and priority, we should look at them as parts of our life which coexist. This will help us start to manage the juggling act.
2 – Make Time to Avoid Interruptions
While we’d all like to be left to work or read in peace all of the time, it’s just not possible and we could easily drive ourselves mad trying. Instead, carving out portions of our day where we know we need to be super productive, shutting the door and turning off our phones helps to keep us on track during critical moments.
Blocking out these times on a calendar, turning off the phone and pronouncing ourselves unavailable helps keep any distractions away.
3 – Acknowledge Your Accomplishments
As we take on more and more in our lives – more responsibility in our careers, purchasing a home, getting married, starting a family – then simply being expected to manage it all, and manage it well can be quite overhwhelming. However, we need to stop and reassess our expectations of ourselves and look instead at what we have accomplished at the end of each day and focusing on that, rather than obsessing about the things we didn’t get done.
4 – Stop Rushing
This is not only a way for us to ‘stop and smell the roses’ in our lives, but also to reduce our stress levels. For example, by scheduling more time than we anticipate we’ll need between each meeting we will be covered in case of a long running meeting or bad traffic; also not making plans for every night of the week or every weekend so that we have some real time to spend with our family and alone helps reduces our stress levels, keep us calm and in control.
5 – Stop Procrastinating
No matter how busy or important we are, all of us procrastinate. We may procrastinate to put off doing tasks we don’t want to do, or we’re just so overwhelmed by everything we have to do, we can’t face it and so we focus on cleaning out every drawer of our desks.
Instead, learning how to better manage our time by being organized, and setting realistic goals. Not only will we feel good about ourselves for achieving our goals, we will stay on track with the tasks and projects we need to complete.
6 – Say No
It is easy at the time to say yes to managing that new client, to volunteering for four car pool days and start planning a new extension on the house. However, when we stop and look at all the little things we’ve agreed to in the course of a day or a week, then we can see just how easy it can be to become over committed. Therefore, in order to balance our work and home life we need to be doing less in each area, and learning to say no to simplify our lives and make it easier to balance.
7 – Priorities
We often feel most unbalanced when we don’t have the opportunity to do the things we really want to be doing, or when we feel like we’re not achieving anything – we could be spending eight hours at work and eight hours at home with our family every day, but if we’re not getting what we want done in either area of our lives, we’ll feel unbalanced.
Therefore, we need to focus ourselves on the important goals we have and working to achieving them. When we have a list of priorities to achieve and we set about crossing each one off our list, we will feel immense satisfaction which will also lead to feeling balanced.
8 – Perspective
Asking a partner or a family member to help out when you need an extra pair of hands or an extra taxi run made is not a sign of failure. Just as we work with a team of administration, communication, technology (and more) people at work, our job at home shouldn’t all fall on a single set of shoulders either.
As we step back and gain perspective we can see what is really important, what we should be concerned about, and what we can let go. For example, we don’t need to be stressed that the breakfast dishes are in the sink when we leave for work and if we don’t get around to the vacuuming that week our family will understand, or they’ll help out.
If our family isn’t able to help out, we shouldn’t be afraid to get some hired help. Finding a babysitter or a day care centre who can help with the kids and looking for a cleaner who can come once a week and keep the house in order for us will go a long way to helping stay on top of things.
As we’re stepping back from the craziness of our lives, we must remember to look after ourselves too. Making appointments to go to the gym or for a run every week, and of course keeping those focus times blocked out just for ourselves.
9 – Negotiate Flexibility
An important person to seek support and advice from when balancing our work and home lives is our employer. Taking the time to explain to our boss that we are feeling unbalanced and that we want to find ways to change that within our role can be very beneficial. That negotiation might include adding more staff to the team to help with a project, or negotiating a shared work situation where we work fewer days each week, and sharing the position with someone else who wants to work part time too. Or perhaps negotiating to work some days from home and use teleconferencing software works well for some people too.
10 – Find an Understanding Employer
Even if you approach an employer with detailed and researched proposals for flexible working arrangements, they may still not be interested in accommodating your requests. However, before we decide to just continue battling on, there are other options. For example, we could look for another job, with a company which cares about its employees’ needs and would find your skills and knowledge invaluable.
More and more companies are focusing on building and retaining a balanced workforce, and committed professionals have a good chance of finding a company with balanced values, and one which will value your holistic approach to life. Many more companies are also becoming more open to accommodating flexible working arrangements. So if your current employed is dead against it, perhaps you can find another who isn’t so opposed to the idea.
In the modern professional workplace where productivity expectations are ever increasing, it can be all too easy to get carried away with work and tip the scales away from your family or home life. However, this can have serious implications not only on family life, relationships and our physical as well as emotional health. In order to keep up a sustainable work life balance we need to frequently review and check in with ourselves.
Whilst taking the time to enjoy and care for our family and stay healthy, one should also be prepared for the unexpected. If you have a family that relies on your regular income you might want to consider life insurance too. This will help give both yourself and your family peace of mind that no matter what unexpected snag life throws you, your family will not need to endure any additional unnecessary financial stress as a result.