If you are like many working people, it can seem like a constant juggling act to balance the demands of your work life and your home life. Your career is important to you, and you want to give your job 100 percent every day, but your personal life — family, friends, free time — is also a significant priority that you don’t want to neglect.
So how do you have it all without getting burnt out in the process? Focus your time and energy by making small, conscious decisions to improve your work-life balance.
1. Set hours (and try to stick to them).
Hardworking people in all different fields — from CEOs to self-employed entrepreneurs — can get caught in the trap of working too much and leaving little time for anything else. Do you find yourself checking your BlackBerry during dinner with friends or staying up late to work on reports after your kids go to bed? The hard truth is that there is almost always more work to be done, but you aren’t going to finish it all by slaving around the clock. Set reasonable hours and limits for yourself, and try to hold yourself accountable for them . For example, set a goal that you will leave the office in time for dinner with your family every night, and only allow yourself 45 minutes of “homework.”
2. Make time for activities that bring you happiness.
How many times have you heard a friend or colleague say, “I used to love hiking (or playing golf, knitting, traveling, etc.), but I just don’t have time anymore”? Don’t wait until you retire to do the leisure activities that make you happy. Even if you have an extremely hectic schedule, set aside small blocks of time for relaxation and rejuvenation. Get up early so you have time to go jogging before work; leave the office early once a week so you can make it to your daughter’s soccer game; plan a Saturday trip to go fishing with friends. Recognize that finding a better work-life balance will make you more productive and energized when you are at work.
3. Cut the fat.
Take a hard look at how you spend your time. What activities don’t contribute much to your work or personal life? For example, do you procrastinate at work by spending too much time on social networking sites or online shopping? At home, do you watch hours of television you’re not that interested in? If you find yourself wasting too much time on activities that don’t enrich your life, gradually begin to cut back on them and using that time for more worthwhile pursuits. If you limit your social networking time to 15 minutes a day at work, you can focus on the project you need to finish and get out of the office on time. If you watch just one TV show a night, you can have more time to read and spend time with friends or family.
4. Sleep more.
This is a simple one that far too many people neglect. Get a full night’s rest, and remember that sleep will improve your overall health and personal effectiveness.
5. Lead by example.
Show your colleagues and employees that having a better work-life balance is a priority for you. Take a lunch break away from your desk, leave the office at a reasonable hour, talk about what you like to do in your free time (emphasizing that you actually have some free time!). Lead by your own positive example, and create a culture that values a balanced lifestyle.
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