Mastering the Work/Life Balance
How often do you automatically respond with, “I have been so busy” when someone asks how you’re doing? In today’s modern world, we have the ability to carry work in the palm of our hand making it all too easy to remain in a seemingly never-ending work mode. On top of that, the pandemic has the world creating multifunctional work/living spaces within our home, making it more difficult for us to achieve the work/life balance. As a result, it feels like if we take even a moment to ourselves, we may fall behind on our work, causing this vicious cycle of high levels of stress, lack of sleep, and a series of health concerns. As a result, our mood and attitude begin to shift, which affects the way we interact with our clients, friends, and family. It seems like we are so used to feeling busy all the time, that it’s difficult to realize when we have lost our balance. It becomes uncomfortable to even think about what we would do in a quiet space without our phones, kids, work, or plans. However, don’t fret, we have some solutions that will help you regain your balance, your focus on yourself, your personal connections and reshape your relationship with work.
Giving yourself some personal time can pay off in a big way. The easiest and most rewarding thing you can do for yourself is to allocate time for exercise. I challenge you, during your next lunch break or day off, to go for a walk, ride a bike or go to the gym, even if it’s only for 20-30 minutes. Carleton University states, “exercising increases the number of endorphins that are released into your brain and increases productivity.” By simply designating time, if that’s early in the morning before the kids are awake, on your lunch break, or whenever is most convenient for you, you are improving your intentions for the day, elevating your energy and focus levels to get more work done, and sharpening your memory, according to the research done by Carleton University. Make sure to hold yourself accountable though! You could set a timer to go off the same time every day or get a family member or friend to be your accountability partner.
Remember, work will be there when you return, and the world will not burn down the one hour you are away.
Now on the other hand, if you have an active job, maybe just find a quiet space and read a book or listen to a podcast, without looking at your emails or social media. I bet you are telling yourself, ‘easier said than done’, as any moment we are put in a position where there isn’t any stimulation, we automatically start browsing through your phones. Remember, work will be there when you return, and the world will not burn down the one hour you are away. So, if you are on your lunch break and need to, let your team know to just leave a message for when you return, to guarantee you aren’t interrupted. Once you have settled into your space, start to notice the simple things you wouldn’t have during the hustle and bustle, like the chirping of birds, people interacting with each other, or enjoying the simple moment to take a deep breath. By giving yourself time to recharge, you are allowing your mind and body to recover from all the constant stimulation, and as a result, you will notice a difference in your overall mood and energy, so you can begin to manage your relationships.
Learning how to prioritize your time can mean a world of difference when it comes to your work/life balance. My biggest advice is to leave work at work! It is so easy to still be caught up with the day’s stresses and, naturally, you will want to vent to your spouse or family or even work some more once you get home but understand the consequences that come from this. By bringing this energy home, you aren’t allowing your body or mind to wind down and separate from the workday but more importantly, you are dumping this energy on your family as well. Instead, try catching up with them and enjoying the short time you have before bed. As I always say, you can never buy back time, no matter how much money you make. So, I recommend that you designate a day during the week for family game nights, watch a movie after dinner, call an old friend, or make plans for the upcoming weekend to keep your mind off work. To better prioritize your personal time, I suggest using an app such as TimeTree or sharing your calendars via whatever system you use, that way you can share each other’s schedules, which helps you stay organized so you can look forward to enjoyable moments and not overbook yourself. This way you are balancing your ability to give it your all during the day but manage to unplug from work to enjoy the connections and memories you create with those that are close to you. This will be extremely rewarding in the end, as you grow closer to your spouse, family, or friends but also giving you the energy to take on whatever challenges you may face at work the next day.
As I always say, you can never buy back time, no matter how much money you make.
By implementing a work smarter vs harder approach, you will start to see significant improvements in your work life. One of the best practices, especially if you have a desk job, is to have a healthy morning routine or ritual when you come into the office. Don’t just sit down and go straight into your emails, potentially receiving negative responses right at 9 am and starting off in a negative headspace. Instead, get yourself a cup of coffee and say good morning to your team, whatever it takes to get you in the right headspace for the day. When you return to your desk, just close your eyes for a few seconds, take a deep breath, and set an intention for the day. This helps your body and mind to wake up gradually and get yourself in the right mindset to tackle your day. Also, set a timer every 45-90 minutes to get up from your chair and walk around; or even stretch! This way you get the blood pumping through your body, which can help make you feel more energized during those afternoon crashes. Another important practice is using your resources and delegating. Don’t take on more than you can handle and never be afraid to ask for help. Overloading your plate can cause high levels of stress and anxiety, which can cause you to get less work done. By understanding your limits and knowing how to allocate tasks based on your team’s strengths, you will not only lower your levels of stress but create efficiency and loyalty in the workplace.
By shifting your focus, you will begin to experience a more balanced lifestyle. It’s essential to give yourself time to recover from a long week, this way you can regain your energy to be present in your personal life and with family and friends. By staying organized, either by creating checklists, setting reminders, or sharing your schedule, you can get what you truly need to get done for that day and still have the energy to come home and relax or spend some quality time with those close to you. Take it from the great Dolly Parton, “Never get so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life.”
This article was written by Megan Lord-Harvey with Greystar, as a part of the XCEL Committee's goal to provide regular, educational, posts for TAA's blog.