2 Practical Steps to Achieve Work-life Balance
Work-life balance is the balancing of the time you spend at work and the time you spend living your life. Not working too much as well as not playing too much. The work-life balance seems to be something we strive toward; every HR department says they provide it, every manager says they give it and every employee wishes they had more of it.
Work-life balance, the idea of balancing your personal and your professional life and the time to devote to each, seems to be that goal that's always just over the horizon, always just out of reach.
I'm no expert and I often struggle to create a better balance, but here are a few things that I've worked on to assist me.
The first thing that I've had to come to terms with is that the work will always be there. I'll (hopefully) always have emails, I'll (less hopefully) always have something to fix and I'll (absolutely hopefully) always have something to work on.
I've briefly touched on ways I try to manage these things here. But the overall idea is that your work, whatever it may be, will be there when you get back.
The second thing that I had to really wrap my head around was that life, in general and as it is today, will not always be here in the way we're familiar. I learned this first hand in July of 2012 when my dad suffered a massive stroke and can now barely talk or walk.
While this is one extreme example, let me share another one.
I've had to make a conscious decision to not check work-related emails while on vacation. For me, vacation is time to not think about work and to spend time with my wife. If I check my email, I'm not doing what I should be doing, and that is to be relaxing and enjoying going through life with Ashley. Life is wonderful and we should all do better to work to live, not live to work.
Here are 2 ways I've worked to improve my work-life balance.
First, think about how awesome your life is outside of work.
The beautiful weather, your cozy home, your friends and family. If you can't get excited about going home, not just the aspect of not being at work, you probably won't put any effort into going there.
Make your home somewhere you really enjoy being. Surround yourself with your hobbies and with the activities you enjoy. I enjoy movies, video games and reading, so I have big TVs, nice couches and 2 home theaters where my wife and I can enjoy spending time together while doing something we both enjoy.
Second, plan your down time.
I'm not saying you must have every Saturday scheduled with things to do, but give yourself something to look forward to.
For during the week, some great ideas that I've heard are date nights with your spouse, dinner with friends, “Girls Nights”, or going to a movie. My wife plans trips and weekend getaways; without her, I'd probably just sit at home reading and watching movies. These short trips give us both something to look forward to.
If you're life outside of work isn't appealing, you probably won't spend much time there.
As much as I try to dedicate time to personal and professional development, and have written about it on multiple occasions, I also try to ensure I'm taking time for myself and my family. So go out there and play some golf, take a scrap booking class or take your spouse out to dinner and a movie.
Question: How do you manage your work-life balance? I'd love to hear what you do, so share your tips with me in the comments below!