Striking the right balance between the energy you dedicate to work versus how you spend your free time can be a challenge. Businesses today communicate more and more via text and email, causing many of us to feel obliged to be available at all hours. These stresses are then compounded by guilt about spending time away from the family and the inevitable burn-out that comes from not taking enough “me-time.”
Finding an appropriate work/life balance will be different for everyone. However, in order to keep your emotional wellness intact, it’s important to determine how and when to focus your energy. Luckily, there are a few concrete steps you can take today. Try these today to achieve home and work harmony, before you burn out.
Visualize the life you want to live
Rather than stumbling through life on autopilot, start making every moment work for you. By envisioning your ideal life, you take an important first step in achieving it. First, write down what you do during the day–weekdays and weekends–down to the smallest detail. Note the things that bring you joy. Maybe it’s breakfast with the kids every morning, or that solo beach walk on Sunday afternoons. Now create a revised list with more time dedicated to the things that bring you the most happiness. Look for ways to condense the things you don’t love doing, or strike them altogether
Get out of reaction mode and start scheduling your time
Your free time outside of work belongs to you. Any time you spend performing work duties is a courtesy, not a requirement. Stop clicking on that “unread emails” icon the minute it pops up and schedule short periods of time (set a timer) to answer emails or perform other work duties. For the rest of the time, either turn off your email apps (or their notifications) or put your phone on do-not-disturb mode.
Make yourself and your personal time a priority
When it’s time to leave work, leave! Stop trying to eke out another 15 minutes. By cutting into your own personal time, you’re short-changing your own emotional wellness and telling yourself that you are not a priority–even in your own life. To make things easier, schedule specific activities after work, like a class or a date with your spouse or children. By planning a set, recurring activity, you’ll be more likely to head out the door at quitting time.
Put things in perspective
Remember that your whole office isn’t going to collapse if you don’t answer an email on a Saturday. If you are a dedicated employee or run a business of your own, you might tend to overestimate the negative impact of not being available 100% of the time. However, there are likely others at your workplace who are available to help, so let them do their jobs. During your off hours, stay out of the way.
Learn to set personal boundaries at a wellness retreat
Take some time to get away from it all. Booking regular stays at wellness retreats or health retreats can help you focus on the big picture, rather than getting caught up in the stress of day-to-day minutiae. A health or fitness retreat can also introduce you to new practices that can help you achieve greater physical and mental health. The time away from your daily routine can help you gain a clearer perspective on your life and everything in it.
What you resist persists. If you regularly complain about how stressed you are, you’ll simply attract more stress. It’s fine to vent occasionally but do so carefully and only with friends who are likely to listen to you then move on. Beware of the friends, family and coworkers who seem to thrive on your stress or want to saddle you with their own complaints. This toxic cycle can keep you in a constant state of resistance to your own life. Try a new habit: when you find yourself about to complain about how stressed you are at work or how tired you are, replace that statement with a reason you are happy and lucky.
Work/life balance continues to be a challenge in the western world, where we’re caught up in doing, earning and achieving more and more. It’s up to you to create the life you want to lead. A life where you’re inspired and fulfilled both at home and at work. Embark on the journey above and watch your life change. Then share your work/life balance stories with others below!