One of the biggest and most stressful challenges for many people is striking a balance between their work and home lives. Intellectually, we know it’s impossible to be everywhere at once; we spout colloquialisms like, “no one’s perfect” and “you can’t be all things to all people” as if we’re trying to reinforce the idea that we’re not perfect. Yet, deep down we still cling to the belief that it’s possible to have a wildly successful career along with a truly rewarding personal life. Well, guess what? It is possible – it just doesn’t look anything like the magazine covers.
Here are 10 realistic steps to help you balance at work and home:
1. Set Realistic Goals
You know better than anyone else how much you can handle. Don’t take on more than you can manage. Set realistic daily (sometimes hourly) goals. If you miss a goal, don’t berate yourself. Instead, use it as a learning experience for future success. Don’t dwell on a missed goal. Dust yourself off, create a contingency plan, and keep moving forward.
2. Get Organized
Disorganization is an invisible barrier that holds you back from reaching your goals. Create visible to-do lists, post items on a large centrally located calendar, or use a whiteboard to track events. Do whatever it takes for you to get and stay organized. Doing little things like selecting outfits and making lunches the night before or keeping keys and backpacks in a central location saves a lot time and confusion in the morning. Try to plan ahead as much as possible so you can stay on schedule.
3. De-Clutter Your Space
While this would normally fall under getting organized, a serene physical environment is a key element to maintaining balance. Nothing interferes with schedules and creates more unneeded stress than frantic scavenger hunts for keys, jackets, shoes, and backpacks.
4. Release the Idea of Perfection
Here’s an important truth – no one is keeping score. Nobody’s passing out grades for dusting or awarding gold stars if the beds are made. If spending quality time with your family or finishing a late night report means the dishes don’t get done right after dinner, know that it’s okay. Don’t focus on the menial tasks you missed. Pay attention to what’s important and spend time with the people in your life.
5. Kiss Guilt Good-bye
Guilt is the least productive emotion you own. Nothing positive can be gained from feeling guilty about what you cannot do. Let go of it.
6. Wherever You Are, Be There
If you’re at work, don’t distract yourself with thoughts of home. When you’re at home, don’t dwell about office deadlines. Focusing your time and attention on someplace else robs you of precious time in the present.
We’ve all heard about the benefits of incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine. A few of the benefits that will help you achieve a greater work/home balance include increased energy, improved mental focus, enhanced quality of sleep, higher endurance, a healthier immune system, and greater self-esteem.
8. Take Time for Yourself
It’s difficult to take care of others and remain alert at work if you’re feeling worn-out or exhausted all of the time. Invest a few hours each week on favorite activities that recharge your body and mind.
9. Create a Support Network
Humans are social creatures. We gain comfort and strength from interaction with others. Find or create a group of supportive friends and family members to cheer you on and offer a hand when you need it the most.
10. Don’t Strive for Balance Every Day
Achieving balance day in and day out simply is not possible. This bears repeating – daily balance is not possible. There are going to be some days where you are a better employee than you are a spouse/mother/sister/friend etc. Other days you will excel in your personal life. Accept the fact that true balance ebbs and flows. Strive to achieve weekly or even monthly balance.
It is a daily struggle to blance your work and home life, but if you are committed to doing it, you will be successful.