Strategies for Balancing Work and Life

We’re hearing a lot today about balancing work and life, an historically divisive topic.  On the one hand, we have staunch, old-school management types who feel that the only way to control the amount and quality of work they get from their employees is to have them right there in the office, ostensibly where they can keep an eye on them.  On the other hand we have the next generation of younger workers who feel stifled in such a closed environment, especially knowing that the old model of working long hours and staying with a company for 30 years has gone the way of the Dodo.

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Just this week NPR began a series on this very subject exploring the ins and outs of more flexible schedules and looking at businesses that are allowing their employees more telecommuting options.  According to the article Phyllis Moen, a University of Minnesota sociologist, thinks we may be in the middle of a ‘work time revolution’ as more employers are realizing the benefits of less rigidity when it comes to work schedules.

We thought we’d add to the discussion by collecting a few strategies that might help you balance your work and personal lives.  If you’ve been struggling to find some equilibrium in your life and work we hope you’ll find something here to help.

Figure Out Your Priorities

Take some time to figure out what really matters to you in life, and find ways to put more focus on those things.  Such an exercise often overwhelms people, but there are tons of aids and advice online for helping you do this and a Google search will provide you with plenty of options.  Here are two links you might find helpful:

Protect Your Personal Time

One of the issues contributing to the current problem of balancing life and work is the level of connectivity in today’s world.  With our smartphones, laptops, and netbooks we’re plugged in constantly.  We try not to let personal matters impinge on our working hours, and by the same token we need to keep our personal time free of work.  Stop checking email every 15 minutes.  Don’t take work-related calls or texts.  Learn to compartmentalize and enjoy your time.

Learn to Rely on Others

Work with your family, friends and/or partner to get things done.  You don’t have to do it all alone.  If you have children have your partner watch them while you take care of business, and be sure to do the same thing for him or her.

Plan Fun and Relaxation Time

Many people simply cannot function without a planner, calendar, or some type of organizational tool.  They’re great for helping you remember your next meeting, or that new deadline, but they can also be useful for blocking out some time for fun.  You Time.  Try reserving a couple of hours in the evening to read a book, play with the kids, or watch a movie.  It sure beats going over some mind numbingly dull report.

Manage Your Time Wisely

Planning for relaxation time is just a natural extension of time management done right.  Block out time for specific tasks and stick to your schedule whether it be work or household chores.  Split big jobs into smaller more manageable tasks.  Delegate if possible.

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Learn to Let Go

You can’t do it all.  Be willing to let some things go.  Leave the dirty dishes for once, and try not worrying about the laundry.  Sometimes projects at work come in overdue, sometimes you simply can’t take on one more bit of work.  Do your best and get on with life.

Get Plenty of Sleep

We’ve all heard this time and time again, but it’s true.  Getting an appropriate amount of sleep is essential to a healthy, well-balanced life.  Make adjustments to bed time if necessary, but make sure you’re getting the rest your body and mind need.

If you have any other strategies you’d like to share on balancing life and work feel free to post them in the comments section!

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