For far too many, work life balance is merely an idea. Although we know it is a good idea, we just can’t seem to transition it to lived reality. No wonder—with so much competition to have the busiest schedule, working to achieve balance can make you feel like a slacker. Here’s some advice from Eleanor Brownn: “Self-care is not selfish, you cannot serve from an empty vessel.“ You are more than your job title. These three tips can help you achieve more balance so you can nurture the neglected parts of you and enjoy better relationships with others, too.
1. Set and honor boundaries.
There are 168 hours in every week. No matter how busy your schedule is you can plan time to do something that restores you. Some weeks you may only have an hour and others you may have a day or two. The point is to regard this time as sacred, just as you would a work appointment. Include it on your calendar and make a commitment to show up for yourself. If the very idea sends you into guilt and panic mode, remember this:
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have—you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.
From 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.
2. Evaluate your job duties.
We are all familiar with the dreaded “other duties as assigned” portion of the job description. If your daily duties include too many soul crushing tasks, it is time for a meeting with your supervisor. Ask for a few tasks that you at least like and will enjoy doing. You’ll feel glad you advocated for yourself and work will feel more bearable.
3. Pay attention.
Human beings are wired to have a negativity bias. We are much more attuned to what is going wrong than we are to what is going right. Sometimes we get stuck there and miss the good of the moment. Does this sound familiar?
- You had a bad day and hours later you still feel stressed and amped up even though you have good food, family or friends around.
- You toss and turn all night or snap at your spouse because all you can think about is what so and so said earlier.
You get the idea. The point is to remember that now is what matters. Endless worry about the past or future makes now invisible. You don’t notice sweet moments like a lovely breeze, cool, crisp sheets, a comforting cup of coffee, or the light in your loved one’s eye. You are not present or paying attention, which means you are missing an important opportunity to connect with the feeling of being ok in the moment. Even during life’s toughest times there are moments when we feel mostly ok…maybe even good. Our job is to notice. Paying attention to now can help us do this.
Achieving work life balance can help you bring your best self to every part of your life. Make the commitment. After all, “Nobody on their deathbed has ever said ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.'”—Heard from Rabbi Harold Kushner; attributed by some to Senator Paul Tsongas.