Now more than ever, it’s difficult to separate work life and home life. With our phones in our pockets and our laptops always within reach, it is easier than ever to blur the lines between our work life and our home life. Society expects successful people to be working at all hours of the day, but the truth is we all need rest. Establishing a work life and home life balance is incredibly important to both your physical and mental health. At times it can feel like we are willingly putting ourselves behind by not working as much as we can, but it is important to realize that the quality of our work will increase when we allow ourselves to rest. And more importantly, we need that separation for self-care.
Many will argue that it’s impossible to create true work-life balance, and while there’s probably some truth to that statement, it’s very important for us to strive to balance it as much as we can. If you’re like me, I bet you’ve tried time and time again to establish and maintain work-life balance. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I can definitely help guide you on your journey to separate your work life and your home life.
Identify Your Values
The very first step in creating a work-life and home-life balance is identifying the things that you value most. What are the things in your life that are most important to you? What are the things that you absolutely cannot miss? What are the opportunities you absolutely have to take? What are the things that you absolutely love to do? Who deserves your time the most?
All of these questions can help you figure out what your values are. Identifying your values will help you make decisions that prioritize your time to doing the things that you love most. Although we understand that business success is important, we must also never forget that the things that we love should take priority in our lives. This can include family, our health, or hobbies. Making time for the things that we love is an important part of life. When we do this, we can ensure that our happiness goes beyond what we do in the workplace.
We must also understand that our work also holds an important part in our lives. When it is time for work it deserves our utmost attention and effort. Making time for the things that we love does not mean that you also have to sacrifice your career or your goals. When we balance our work and home lives, we use organization and planning to make sure that we can get the most out of both. A fulfilling career can still be possible if you learn how to manage your time and prioritize the appropriate activities at the appropriate time.
Establish Strict Work Hours
Thanks to technology, we now have access to our work wherever we are and whatever time of day it is. It is tempting, with this level of access, to fill open hours with work. You may tell yourself that you are getting ahead by working in your free time, but the work really never seems to end.
The next step in separating your work life from your home life is establishing strict work hours. Decide the times then you will begin and end work each day. Stay strict to these hours. and do not perform any work outside of them. This will allow you to immediately set boundaries with your time. Unless an emergency pops up, make a vow that that you can only work during your established work hours.
Be sure to let your colleagues and clients know your work hours and that you have set strict boundaries to keep those work hours. This will allow everyone to understand and respect your boundaries and set clear expectations on when they can expect you to get the work done.
Create and Continue a Transition Ritual
At times it can be difficult to determine when the true workday ends and your home life begins. Consider establishing a transition ritual that will help your body and mind move from work to home. This should include a change of clothes and something that you can perform every day to alert your body that you are no longer working. This is the perfect opportunity for a bath or a shower. Or, this can be 30 minutes of meditation or reading a book for pleasure. Whatever it is, it should be clear and repeatable so that you can do it every day to make the switch from your work life to your home life. This is especially important if you work from home or run your own business. Once your transition ritual is complete you no longer should be working.
Oftentimes we bring work home with us without even attempting to. Our work emails find their way directly into our phones and we often find ourselves doing work without even noticing. When we are constantly tapped into the Internet, we are presented with ideas and issues that we feel we must solve immediately. It is difficult to maintain a work-life and home-life balance if we are constantly tapped into the world of work. When we do not give ourselves a chance to disconnect, we can never truly escape the 24/7 grind of the workplace.
Consider completely disconnecting from your technology once you end your workday. Putting your phone on silent mode and storing away your laptop can help you get away from the always-present demands of the workplace. If you are able to, consider having a separate device for work and for home. Another thing to consider is that many experts suggest not using technology within a few hours of bedtime. In addition to better sleep, decreasing your usage of technology gives you more quality time with your friends and family.
Plan Early and Often
In most situations where our work life gets in the way of our home life, a lack of planning has occurred. When we take the time to plan, we can better manage our time so that our work-life does not interfere with our home life. Identifying and planning around events that cannot and should not be missed is a great way to make sure that you get to experience all the best things while still being productive at work.
Planning at the start of every month and every week is a great way to make sure that everything goes off smoothly. Consider taking the first Sunday of every month to sit down and map out everything that is happening within that month. This will allow you to schedule meetings and other work-life necessities around the must-see events of home life. It may also be beneficial to start every week with the planning session to make sure that everything is in line. Taking the time to be aware of all the things happening in our lives will help us manage time better.
Using a shared calendar or planner can be very beneficial in this type of planning. Everyone in the family can add their activities to the shared organizer so that everyone else can visually see what is going on. Weekly family meetings can be used to discuss the importance of each event and whether it should be prioritized. This time also allows you to plan family events to help you get the most out of your family time. This also allows you to share any necessary work obligations ahead of time. Setting these expectations early and often is a great way to promote healthy communication and time management within your family.
Learn to Say No
One of the most difficult things to do in your professional life can be saying no to more responsibilities. When our colleagues and bosses want us to take on more work that interferes with our lives, we must prioritize our time and choose our additional responsibilities accordingly. If these additional opportunities won’t help you directly meet your goals but will take away from your work-life balance, it is important to learn how to say no.
This can be difficult especially when we put such a priority around success. However, if we take on too much work and become overwhelmed the quality of our work will suffer. Instead of creating great work that we can be proud of we may create mediocre work just to complete the extra responsibilities. Additional business success can be extremely rewarding, but if it means that we have to sacrifice our free time or family time it may not be fully worth it. Take time to examine additional opportunities and make a choice that prioritizes balance.
Learn to Forgive Yourself
Throughout the process of balancing your work life and home life, you’re going to make some mistakes. You will plan your time and efficiently and you may even take on work that doesn’t benefit the balance. You may miss something in your family life or prioritize work over relaxation. It is important to remember that creating this balance is a journey. You’re going to make mistakes, but as long as you focus on making small changes over time, you will reach a balance that you are comfortable with. You will learn how to plan your time efficiently and prioritize the things that mean the most to you. Understanding the value of a balanced life will help motivate you in making choices that will benefit both yourself and your family for years to come.
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