There are so many theories out there about work-life balance. Some people think that it is completely unattainable while others, like myself, live and die by it. I do realize that it is not as simple as walking out of the door at your job and leaving it all behind. As humans, we tend to replay scenarios and events of our day over and over in our heads and that is to be expected. I have never had a single working day where I got into my car and immediately let go of everything that I had just lived through for the past eight or nine hours. That’s not a practical approach. I do think that there are simple things we can do to relieve the tension of the day and walk into our homes with a fresh attitude in order to give our partners, children, pets, or even ourselves the attention and commitment that they deserve.
I used to have major stress at work. Like major. There were days where I would come home and not speak to anyone for several hours. All of the tension would be so bottled up that I would feel like I was going to explode if I engaged with my family. So I didn’t. And the only ones who really suffered in that were my loved ones. I was jeopardizing my time with them over something that was beyond my control. Over time, I noticed that small things helped like listening to soothing music on the drive home or taking a moment to play with my dog as soon as I got in from work. By far, the thing that helped me the most, though, was talking with my husband about the day that I had just had. I don’t know what it was but I just couldn’t seem to over the day until I had expressed my frustrations as well as my joys from work. So now, as soon as I get home, we take about 5 minutes each and we discuss our day. We talk through the things that happened and we each get to vent out all of the negativity. Then we start our evening fresh and with a renewed lease on life. I highly recommend you trying this if you have a partner that you can discuss things with. And even if you don’t, use your commute home to talk the day’s events over with yourself. Speak them out loud and give yourself the space to say how you really feel about what happened free of judgement from anyone. You will feel so much better and it will completely change the way that the rest of your day goes.
Equally important is spending quality time with your family and friends and doing the things that you truly enjoy. In today’s plugged in world it is all too easy for us to work from sun up to sundown without ever being truly present in the real world. This can be detrimental not only to yourself but to your relationships with those around you. It’s important that you evaluate how much time you are spending away from your family, friends, and the things that you hold dear. Once you analyze that, it becomes much easier to know if you need to cut some of that work time from your schedule to do the things that are truly important. Now I’m not saying that working isn’t important. It is. But I am saying that it is less important than quality family time. That’s a nugget of advice that no one has ever told you before, so I’ll say it again. Your family is more important than your job. You may hide behind the excuse that you are only working to take care of your family. And while that may be the case, you still have an obligation to satisfy their emotional needs as well as their financial ones. So there has to be a balance. I tend to use the 20% rule. Out of my at-home time when I am not at the office, I only allow 20% of the time to be spent discussing work, focusing on work, physically working, etc. Only 20% of my home time gets to be taken away by work. If I can’t fit it into that amount of time, it has to wait until the next day when I am back at the office. For those of you who work nontraditional hours or work from home, you can still use this rule. Block off your time so that you have dedicated work times and dedicated home times. Then don’t let your work times bleed over into your home times in excess.
Your family is more important than your job.
I realize that this all sounds very easy and very simple but when it comes down to it and you’re working on that huge project that is going to make or break your career, work-life balance will go completely out the window. And that is to be expected. Just don’t let your work overtake all of your personal time because in the end, when you’ve retired and that career is a faint memory, the ones taking care of you won’t care how hard you worked, they will care that you were there with them and truly present in those moments that mattered. I encourage you to research work-life balance and take a look at how well you are balancing work and your personal life. Do you have a strategy that is currently working for you or is this something that needs some major work? If you’ve got something that’s working for you, I’d love to hear about it. Reach out and share what’s working so that I can post it here for others to see! And if you need one on one help with balancing it all out, I will be glad to help you! Just let me know!