By Julie Morris, Life and Career Coach
It can be easy to let work take over your life, especially when you love what you do. Of course, when that happens, burnout is right around the corner. In order to live the most well-balanced life possible, it’s important to avoid letting your work consume all of your free time. Here are a few tricks you can use to achieve better work-life balance.
Use Technology Wisely
Technology enables professionals to be available 24/7. On one hand, this “always-on” mentality contributes to the ability to work remotely and accomplish important tasks without sacrificing family time by driving to the office on the weekend.
On the other hand, it contributes to deteriorating the family time professionals do have, leading to mothers and fathers talking on cell phones in the corner at birthday parties, checking emails from the park bench and more. The key to using technology wisely is to set healthy boundaries and decide when, where and how you’ll be available for professional duties.
Make Deliberate Choices
What does success mean to you? What does balance mean to you? Both success and balance look different for everyone, so defining what exactly your goals are in terms of professional success and work-life balance will enable you to make deliberate choices about work, family and your overall well-being.
For example, some professionals may choose to pass up a promotion that would move them to the other side of the country because of their desire to maintain a small-town upbringing with a quality school system for their kids. Others who value being able to be there for their children while they’re young will opt for part-time work in the first few years of their children’s lives, later re-entering the workforce on a full-time basis. Or, you might opt for a career that allows you to work remotely to gain more flexibility over your schedule. Another important, deliberate choice you can make is to get to know your coworkers. Chances are there’s someone in your company who you can team up with to tackle some of the items on your to-do list. When the two of you work together, you’ll be able to achieve goals faster.
Spend Some Time with a Four-legged Friend
When your job requires that you work long hours, it can start to feel like you spend more time in your office than anywhere else. Be sure to take breaks, but even better, spend them with a four-legged friend. Studies have shown that dogs are great for our physical and mental health. So, if you have an office dog or a dog of your own, go to a dog-friendly restaurant on your lunch break. Because dogs are such great mood boosters, many of today’s restaurants are dog-friendly. In fact, here’s a list of some of the best ones:
If taking your dog to a restaurant is out of the question, you might simply consider going to a dog park or taking him on a quick walk in your neighborhood. Time away from the office will be beneficial no matter how you spend it, but incorporating a furry friend into your break can certainly enhance those benefits.
Schedule Your Work
If you do have work arrangements that allow for remote work or schedule flexibility, one of the most important things you can do to maintain work-life balance is to schedule time for work and time for family. When you approach the work day with a “just go with it” approach, you may find that you’re spending more time on work-related tasks and missing out on key family opportunities, even though you’re working from your own home or on your own schedule. By scheduling your time deliberately, you’re more likely to stick to the schedule that you’ve set for yourself and are better able to maintain the boundaries that you’ve set between work and home.
Thanks to technology, there are more opportunities for today’s professionals to achieve better work-life balance by taking advantage of the ability to telecommute, work flexible schedules or even freelance. But these benefits alone won’t provide the balance most professionals are looking for. To take full advantage of these benefits, you must deliberately schedule your time, make careful choices and commitments, and schedule your work to separate work from home.
Ms. Morris is a life and career coach. Her website can be found at juliemorris.org.