Family, friends, work, exercise, extracurriculars... it all adds up and it's a tricky process keeping it all in balance. I just returned from a three-day work training session and the final topic we covered was work-life balance, or as they liked to call it "work-life integration." I'm glad they left it for last, because it was left fresh in my mind to ponder for the 6+ hours it took me to make it home.
Why is work-life balance important ?
When it comes to nutritional and mental health and just overall well-being, balance is huge! In my weight management counseling, there are many people who's biggest issue is simply setting limits in their professional lives to take care of themselves. The same deal goes towards setting limits in their family life. In my eyes, taking care of yourself first isn't selfish (within reason), it's a means of sustainability and long-term health.
When if comes to work-life balance, there are three "categories" of people:
Okay, knowing what category you're in is definitely useful. But, what I found to be most helpful from our session was the Action Plan for achieving greater balance. Here are key questions to ask yourself (along with my answers and comments):
(1) Determine what REALLY matters! What are your priorities?
Write them down and place somewhere you will see them every day! Religious faith, Husband/family/dog/friends and health/fitness are my top three.
(2) Identify "time wasters" and drop unnecessary activities.
This could be extra jobs, distractions, excessive use of devices, unnecessary meetings/commitments, etc Write down everything you "do." Are there any surprises? My response for biggest life time waster was cleaning (especially washing dishes!), which I know is why the hubby bought me this for our anniversary:
(3) Protect your private time. Set limits and people will respect them.
So true! Learning to say "no" has been hard, but people do respect when you turn something down (most times). It's also important to set limits for yourself! Give yourself a certain time frame to complete a task and then MOVE ON. Especially important to remember for us perfectionists!
(4) Accept help: delegate!
We live in a world that is constantly asking more for less, but there are only 24 hours in a day! Delegate those things that aren't your strengths or that you just don't like doing. Or, if that's not an option, recruit help in doing it together. Things I would like to delegate: cleaning, laundry, bills...(see number 2). Sometimes delegation costs $$, decide if it's worth it for the extra time and peace of mind.
(5) Plan fun & relaxation.
Use your vacation time, invest in hobbies and extracurriculars that make you happy (not the unnecessary ones!). I work hard to keep up with my areas of "fun" even when life is chaotic, because it helps me to be more focused and present otherwise and it's an important aspect of my mental health.
(6) Be emotionally present.
We live in a world of distraction (I know this all too well!). Doing too much is one form of distraction, but technology definitely presents a whole different obstacle! Turn off the phone, computer, etc (yes, I need to do this too!) and be 100% present with whatever you are doing. Not only will you be more effective, but your work/activities might just be more rewarding too! A few friends shared this article on FB a few days ago and it's the first thing I thought regarding this. Laying Aside the Weight of Fragmented Focus, also a great article. Stop and smell the roses...slow down and enjoy the little things in life!
(7) My addition: Count your blessings, not problems!
Something I've been working on lately. It's SO easy to get caught up in what's going wrong (or just not right), but there's also so much to be thankful for! Keep a list of blessings, praises or things you are grateful for and it's sure to help put it all in perspective. Again, post it somewhere visible!
Work hard, play harder... and do what you love!!
Running is obviously a huge aspect of my work-life balance, but it's definitely important to be kept that in check too! Sometime next week, I'll talk a little about Run-Life Balance :)
It's hard to always keep work and life in balance, but the key is having the perceived feeling of control over one's life and one's work...Do you what you need to make that a reality!
Now your turn! What can you do to achieve greater work-life balance??
*Disclaimer: Information regarding Work-Life Balance adapted from Sodexo Get-Live Training. I am also not claiming to be an expert at the whole balance thing! It's something we all struggle with :)
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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