Do you have those awful nightmares where everything is going wrong that could possibly go wrong at your job? I’m here to let you know, you aren’t alone. Just recently I had a dream I filled out all of my timesheets incorrectly and woke up in a cold sweat. Luckily for us, there is an easy fix to this anxiety: managing a healthy work-life balance.
The concept of a work-life balance has been a popular topic recently. Time and Harvard Business Review have published articles on it in the last three months. Huffington Post has a tag on relevant articles dedicated to this topic, author Nigel Marsh presented a TED Talk about balancing work and life, even WebMD provides tips for a better work-life balance. So if this topic is so popular right now, then why do so many people still struggle to achieve this balance?
Here are my tips for successfully maintaining a work-life balance:
- Don’t take work home with you. This one may seem obvious, but it’s important. You need to create a separation between work and home. If the line between the two is blurry, then you are more likely to still be thinking about work long after the office doors close for the day. If you are part of the growing trend of people who work at home, designate a specific room or area of your house as your work space and don’t let your work leave those confines.
- Power down. Technology is great. It allows us to be connected 24/7 and has made a lot of things easier in the business world. But being plugged in all of the time can keep you from focusing on the things important to you outside of work. I’m guilty of checking my work email way too frequently on the weekends, which typically leads to thinking about what I need to get accomplished during the upcoming week and keeps me from enjoying my down time.
- Do that thing you’ve been meaning to do. Go on a hike. Ride a tandem bicycle with your friends. Heck, take a bubble bath. Sometimes we get so caught up being busy we don’t take time to do things we enjoy. Personally, to help with this I’ve created a list of things I want to do or places nearby I want to visit, including museums, hiking trails and parks. By doing this, I get the satisfaction of doing something new for myself and I get to cross things off of a list – which helps me feel productive.
- Schedule down time. Okay, so you tried to follow steps 1-3, but you still can’t seem to pull yourself away from work. I understand, you’re just that important! Your time is a commodity and everyone wants a piece of you. Your calendar is booked with more meetings than the president of the United States. Try this: schedule down time in your calendar. No, you aren’t allowed to double book this time or cancel it. This may be difficult initially, but taking time for yourself can be very beneficial to achieving a nice work-life balance.
Now you may be asking yourself, “Why is having a balanced work-life so important?” You may enjoy being busy, staying focused and working hard, and that’s perfectly fine. However, focusing your attention on life outside of work will allow you to seek inspiration elsewhere and get your creative juices flowing. You will be more energized and focused on the task at hand when you walk in to your job, allowing you to work more efficiently.