Keeping a healthy balance between work and personal time is an ever-growing problem in today’s world of instant access, smartphone technology, and the demands of a constant stream of email or text messages. We receive pressure from so many angles that allocating sufficient time for all our responsibilities is a challenge. Do you find it difficult to shut off from work? Are you unable to keep your mind off your professional responsibilities while attempting to spend quality time with family and friends? If so, consider the following insights and strategies in your effort to strike a balance between work and home obligations.
- Apply Effort and Awareness: You must consciously acknowledge that activities with friends and family are a priority. To do this, you must be honest about your feelings not only with yourself, but also with the people you care for. This may require having an in-depth conversation with a loved one or a simple reaching-out to a friend, but letting them know you value your time with them is an important, affirming step on the path to balance.
- Prioritize Your Values: Whether you love your job or not, your work life is an obligation, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Your job—your career—is something you are committed to and obliged to do if you expect to be able to pay the bills. Personal time, on the other hand, is yours to dole out as you see fit. But that is not to say you don’t have personal priorities as well.
Keep a list of what you’d like to accomplish, the goals you’d like to achieve. Handwrite it to make it more valuable and personal, and include the names of those you’d like to be involved and a general timeframe for completing each.
If it helps, assign a small incentive for completing goals. Of course, some of these things may be rewards unto themselves (think “vacation to the Caribbean”), but feel free to earn something sweet for the more mundane tasks. What matters most is that you value your personal goals, and then reward yourself when you accomplish them.
- Be Flexible: This goes both ways. For example, you may have an important project for work that cannot be postponed and that requires you to spend extra time at your job. Or you may have a child’s dance recital that cannot be rescheduled and which requires you to leave work early. In both instances, control over the situation is not in your hands, and you must accept there will be times when you can control only so much. What you can control, however, is how you react to the situation. Do not feel guilty if you have to revise your goals (either professional or personal) if the stressors of day-to-day life get in the way.
Your job is here to stay. But when you acknowledge the value of, and prioritize time for, your personal life, you are well on the way to the first step in finding adequate balance between your work and personal self. By setting specific goals, remaining flexible and understanding of your limits, you can reach that balance.