Is it really possible to achieve a balance between work and life? Are we capable of fitting it all in? The term Work-Life Balance became popular in the 1980’s when corporations did not offer much in the way of flexible options. Picture a seesaw with work loading down one side and everything else, a.k.a. life, on the other side.
Many people have come to the conclusion that work-life balance is a myth, especially living in our all-consuming tech world. Email, smart phones and tablets blur the lines between work and all else. The office and our clients can reach us anytime, anywhere. We find ourselves “on” 24/7. There is always a lot to do and too few hours in the day to get our to-dos done.
Cali Yost, author and CEO of the Flex+Strategy Group, has given work-life balance a new name, work-life fit. Balance implies that work and life are at opposite ends which we know is not true. Work-life fit is a proactive approach, giving people more flexibility than they realize. Work can be a variety of win-wins for workers and employers.
In her book Work + Life Yost points out that the key is to find the fit that’s right for you which will allow you to be in control. You get to spend time with the people who are most meaningful in your life and to decide how much time and energy you put into activities.
Below are 12 work-life fit tips that will help you focus on the activities that are most meaningful to you:
- Set crystal clear goals. Identify the goals that are important to you such as, work, professional, family, friends, keeping fit, your faith, and even fun. Too often, we are on autopilot and do not think about the ways we spend our time. If you want to make partner in a law firm, be prepared to devote the time and energy it will require. Clarifying your goals will serve as a roadmap going forward.
- Ask yourself for every activity you are involved in: Does this activity add value? Does it meet my goals? Evaluate each and every project. Are you spending too much time and energy on an area that will be of little consequence to you in the long run? Eliminating a task can free you up to work on priority projects. For example: Do you still need to be attending association meetings from an earlier career? You might be able to meet your friends somewhere else and not be bound to a particular meeting time.
- Eliminate as many errands as possible and combine the rest. Take a critical look at your errands which can take a chunk out of the day. Consider outsourcing whenever possible and batch the rest together. Do errands together that are in the same part of town.
- Exercise. Study after study shows that working out benefits the mind and the body. You’ll need to carve out the time because it won’t happen, especially if your schedule is jam-packed, without being proactive. Make the time because it certainly won’t come to you.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep-deprived individuals do not think clearly. Lack of sleep causes problems regarding focusing, stress, and sometimes serious medical issues. The Better Sleep Council survey in 2013 found that almost half of all Americans do not get enough sleep. (http://bettersleep.org/better-sleep/the-science-of-sleep/sleep-statistics-research/better-sleep-survey)
- Start slowly and keep a journal. If you decide that you want to make a change in your work-life fit, do it gradually and mindfully. There is no need to rush into this. Even small changes can have a big impact. Keep track of these changes with a journal.
- Find a balance between work and enjoyment. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. There’s some truth to that. Plan on doing fun things such as spending time with family and friends, learning a hobby, or taking a class to advance your professional career. All of these activities will expand your mind and, believe it or not, make you better at your job.
- Set boundaries. Are you going to answer that text or email on a Saturday afternoon? Let your clients and colleagues know what is acceptable. They will appreciate your candidness.
- Say no, especially if it interferes with your goals. If a supervisor asks you to handle a specific project, ask him/her what project(s) you should work on first. If you report to several supervisors, let them make the decision.That way you can stay out of it.
- Re-evaluate your goals periodically. As life changes, so do our goals. Set a certain time quarterly to sit down and review your goals. Mark it in your calendar. Something may have changed that could affect your current list of goals. For example, a promotion, or a new baby, might cause you to rethink the future.
- Select an accountability partner. Bounce ideas off of someone you trust who can help you stay on track and meet your goals. Ask someone who is committed to your well-being such as a co-worker, a friend or a coach.
- Reduce the amount of television you watch and the time on the Internet. Both are black holes. Not many of your activities will get done if you are searching the web or watching hours of television.