Advertising
Advertising

5 Ways to Improve Your Work-Life Balance Right Now

5 Ways to Improve Your Work-Life Balance Right Now

We’ve all heard that work-life balance is about being balanced across a period of time vs. at a specific moment.  But we also know that those day to day moments can be pretty excruciating. While finding a more flexible position, planning a vacation, moving to shorten the commute, or remembering that this busy period will pass are all on the radar, what can we do today – right now, without drastic changes in our lives or jobs – to make things better? Try these 5 things to help you feel more balanced right now:

Don’t work every evening.

There used to be a time when “quittin’ time” meant just that. Office technology has made huge advances in recent years:  we no longer have to be disconnected or unable to work when traveling, sick, or working from home. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to ever stop working. It may be part of your workplace culture to log back in every evening after dinner, but just don’t do it for a few nights and see what happens. Take time after work to relax and focus on other areas of your life. You’ll know when something is enough of an emergency to keep working after hours. A general rule of thumb I use is if this is something someone would have picked up the phone and called me about ten years ago after house, then it’s worth being responsive.  If not, it can wait until the next business day.

Advertising

Don’t look at email / monitor work communications when you’re not at work.

This is a tough one. To simplify our lives, we’ve combined our personal and workplace devices. The endless pings of emails and instant messages could drive one to insanity or exuberance:  studies show that the simple act of checking your email is addictive. Even if you’re not on your computer working, continually monitoring work communications means that you’re not able to disconnect from your job and fully focus on other aspects of your life.  So, cut the cord. Tell your staff, manager, or colleagues that the best way to reach you when you’re not in the office is by phone. And while this may seem scary at first, it’s really not. Think back to times that you’ve tried to reach someone by email or text message. If they didn’t get back to you right away and it was urgent, you called them. If not, you waited until the next business day. To help break the habit, set a fifteen minute block in the evening or early in the morning where you shift your focus to checking emails and other office communications, if you absolutely have to. After a few weeks, you’ll probably discover that it’s not needed.

Treat weekends like vacations.

Weekends are your time to rest, recover, and recuperate. Don’t waste them. Set a drop dead time for yourself (e.g. 5pm on Friday) when you will officially stop working on office related work. Then, go enjoy your weekend. Resist the urge to get back online on Sunday nights – this is a habit made popular by those that want to “get ahead” of the week. It’s not needed, necessary, or even practical most of the time. Enjoy your Sunday evening and return to work on Monday morning refreshed and ready to go. The major plus of not working on Sunday night: on Monday morning, your email will have the full picture from all the responses and information that got disseminated by those who couldn’t stay offline the previous evening, so you’ll be fully caught up.

Advertising

Always make yourself whole.

Many people think that giving up personal time in the evenings or weekends is what’s expected from their jobs – and that may be true sometimes. But it’s not expected that you never take that time back and make yourself whole again. If you have a rough couple of weeks while a major project is in full swing, plan a day or two off as comp days after the project launches. Use that time to treat yourself, catch up on personal responsibilities, or just rest and recover. Organizations will take what you give them, so don’t give them everything. And if they take more than their fair share for a little while, take it back for yourself when it makes sense.

Use mobility for productivity and flexibility… not to stay “always connected.”

Technology has changed the way we work and it’s up to use to use it in a way that’s most effective. This means rethinking the purpose of mobility. Being able to work from anywhere makes sense when you are traveling, or need to escape to a quieter, less distracting environment to work on a presentation or whitepaper, or when you need to finish up something you couldn’t complete since you had to leave the office early to pick up your child from school. Using mobile technology in a way that enhances your life is important; don’t use it as a way to extend your work day unnecessarily, or to stay connected when you really should be focusing on something else.

Advertising

These five things are easy to implement and don’t require any major job or life changes. And bringing them into your life may have an unexpected effect: you may be more engaged and perform better at work! Staying balanced and making sure you take time for yourself each day will enusre that the time you spend at work is the more productive and fulfilling.

Featured photo credit: Working / Adrian Scottow via flickr.com

Advertising

More by this author

6 Things to Keep Doing Even After You Have Children 7 Tips to Manage Family When Working During the Holidays 6 Signs You’re in a Great Job Parents With Four Or More Kids Are Happier, According To Researchers Here’s Why Solo Female Travelers Are Amazing Employees

Trending in Career Advice

1 Clueless On Your Career? Sabbatical vs. Career Break 2 9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career 3 10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself This Year 4 10 Job Search Tools Every Jobseekers Need To Know About 5 If You Have This Key Behavior, You’ll Be More Successful Than 90% Of People

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

Advertising

  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

Advertising

  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

Advertising

What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

Advertising

Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

More Tips on Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next