As a technology professional by day and personal finance blogger by night, I have to be careful to make sure my work and life are in proper balance.
If not, I can really start to feel the stress, fatigue and all the other ill feelings that come with letting work overload or sit in first place in my life.
I’ve been working in my professional career for 14 years and you’d think I would have it all figured out. Keep work over here and the rest of my life over there and all will be good! Ha, that’s far from my reality more often than I’d like to admit.
Work has its way of creeping into every area of our lives and if we’re not careful we’ll burn out and wear ourselves down. I think we’re especially susceptible to imbalance when we love our work and have a passion for it. The work just seems to take over at that point.
While I’m by far no expert at getting enough work-life balance I thought I would share a few tips I’ve found useful in my own life. Hopefully you can have a better work-life balance this year!
Find a job with an employer that believes in work-life balance
This seems like a no-brainer, but I would have never mentioned this tip if my current employer wasn’t so up-front about their desire to provide work-life balance to their people. We have a culture of people that are committed to hard work and doing a great job. However, our culture also respects the need for family and the personal lives of our people.
Not a lot of companies are as forthcoming about work-life balance and don’t make it a part of their human resources program. I can’t stress enough to find out how serious an employer is about work-life balance during the interview process. If they can’t speak to how they instill this in their culture you need to look elsewhere!
Set expectations with your boss
While an employer may support work-life balance you still have to set expectations with your boss. Make sure you work out a reasonable work schedule with your boss. Perhaps you work 7 AM – 4 PM versus normal business hours. You might even come in later and leave later. You need to also make sure your boss knows your priorities outside of work and that you’ll be sticking to them unless it’s a special circumstance. This might mean no cell phone calls after dinner or stating you won’t be checking email at night. I know these things may sound like I’m crazy, especially in todays work culture, but you have to set these expectations and your boss needs to understand them and should be willing to work with you.
Set your limits and stick to them
Another one of your responsibilities is to set your limits and stick to them. I know some people may work into the evening and after dinner. Some people can’t work after 4 PM every day because of family or other personal responsibilities. That’s fine and I think we have to recognize everyone has a different definition of work-life balance as well as live different lives. But whatever your definition of work-life balance is, you need to identify your limits and stick to them if you want to remain stress free and healthy.
Keep your focus on the most important priorities in life
You have to identify the most important things in your life and make sure they are your top priorities all the time. I think I can safely so that work should never be the most important priority in life for most people! However, why do we let work take-over and control much of our personal lives. We read email at night, return phone calls, allow work to creep into all of our thoughts and so on. Our focus should be on spending quality time with our families and doing activities at night that renew us for the next day.
Learn to say no
So, what do you do if you’re in a work environment without proper work-life balance? What do you do if your boss keeps pushing for more and more? What do you do when the emails are flooding your inbox at night when everyone decides it’s more important to work than anything else? Say no! Truly, it’s in our own control to tell our boss that now is not a good time. It’s in our own control to avoid reading email. We have more choices than we realize sometimes. “But, what if I get fired”, you might ask? Personally, if I get fired because I’m not keeping up at night, then I’m going to trust that there is a better plan for me! Saying no is a personal responsibility we must uphold to protect our health, focus on more important personal priorities and to stay healthy to perform the best job we can for our employers.
This post was important for me to write as a reminder to make sure my life and work are in proper balance. It’s not easy when you have a demanding job, a lot of responsibilities as well as a type “A” personality! However, I believe both employers and the employees have a responsibility to support and stand up for work-life balance. After all, won’t companies reap the benefits in the end with rested and motivated employees?
How do you make sure you get work-life balance?
Photo Credit: John