Often, our work can seemingly take precedent over everything else in our lives. Our desire to succeed professionally can leave us forgetting about our own well-being.
However, finding a harmonious work-life balance is critical to improving not only our physical, emotional and mental health, but also our career health.
Seriously. How many browser tabs do you have open right now? Multitasking makes you think you’re getting more done, but it reduces productivity by as much as 40%.
Instead, break each project into time-bound tasks, and spend focused amounts of time completing each element. Prioritize the tasks that require input from others for completion so that you can finish your portion of the project and hand it off to the next worker. Parallelizing work (where multiple work streams happen at the same time by different people) is an efficient use of time, but trying to do it all yourself is a recipe for disaster.
Create a timeline of your activities. Specific computer programs can help with this, or you can customize your own Excel spreadsheet or Word table. Put dates across the top and activities down the side. Break each task into components. Include family commitments such as holidays, birthday parties, etc. so you don’t forget that you are unavailable for work on those days.
Even when we’re busy, we make time for the crucial things in life. We eat. We go to the bathroom. We sleep. And yet one of our most crucial needs, exercise, is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up. Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. It helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by also putting you in a meditative state. So, what are you waiting for?
Be honest with colleagues or your boss when you feel you’re in a bind. Chances are, you’re not alone. But don’t just complain, suggest practical alternatives. Looking at a situation from someone else’s viewpoint can also reduce your stress. In a tense situation, either rethink your strategy or stand your ground, calmly and rationally. Make allowances for other opinions, and compromise. Retreat before you lose control and allow time for all involved to cool off. You’ll be better equipped to handle the problem constructively later.
The same technology that makes it so easy for workers to do their jobs flexibly can also burn us out if we use them 24/7. By all means, make yourself available, especially if you’ve earned the right to “flex” your hours, but recognize the need for personal time, too.
Of course, all of these new habits take time to build and practice to maintain. But if you’re trying to change a certain script in your life, start small and experience some success. Build from there. Start now your new way of living.