When are You Coming Home?
Practical Tips to Realizing Work/Life Balance
By Lonnie Pacelli
talk about over-used terms for a minute. If
you’ve been in the business world since the mid 1990s you’ve
likely heard your management espouse the desire for employees to
achieve greater work/life balance.
Many U.S. companies have adopted programs to help employees strike a better life
balance by providing health club benefits, entertainment discount
programs, and additional time off for events such as the birth of a
child. Despite all this,
Americans are of the most overworked and flat-out busy people on
earth, recently surpassing the Japanese and long surpassing the
Europeans. With all this discussion of work/life balance, how can we
in the U.S. also be of the most overworked people in the world?
The answer is pretty simple; many of us talk work/life balance,
but don’t live work/life balance primarily because we don’t know
how to do it.
let’s get clear on the primary purpose of achieving work/life
balance. It’s about
minimizing stress in your life. Much
of the stress in a typical person’s life is derived from work.
Stress also comes from non-work activities as well.
You can say you’ve got work/life balance, but in addition to
working full-time, you might participate in many activities with the
kids, volunteer at the local homeless shelter, and exercise five days
a week. If you’re
feeling stressed and tired you haven’t achieved the primary intent
of work/life balance, which is to reduce stress.
All you have done is balanced the degree of stress you have in
your work life with the stress you have in your non-work life.
But at least the stress is balanced.
a practical work/life balance, consider the following tips:
(and honestly) decide what is really important - Saying that
work/life balance is important is one thing; truly meaning it is a
different game altogether. You
may want to believe you place other things above work, but wanting
to believe it simply doesn’t mean it’s so.
Make a conscious, realistic declaration on where your
priorities lie, then examine your behaviors or ask a friend,
relative, significant other, or spouse.
Taking the first step toward the quest for work/life
balance means eliminating the gap between what you desire
and what you do.
calendar a life thing, not just a work thing - Integrate
important personal activities into your calendar.
Examples of things to schedule include exercise, being home
at a specific time for dinner, and kids’ activities.
Also include items such as important meetings that your
spouse or significant other needs to attend which require you to
be at home with the kids or to take junior to the dentist.
success in results, not hours - Those who measure success
based on hours worked will prioritize hours over results and tend
to be less motivated to figure out how to get more work done in
less time. Those who
measure success based on results are more likely to figure out
better ways to do things, prioritize their work, and get home in
time for dinner. Don’t
use the clock as your gauge of success; use the results you
deliver as your success yardstick.
succumb to peer pressure - From our earliest years, we are
exposed to peer pressure. The
“I dare you’s” from our youth become “Who’s got a bigger
house” or “Who drives a nicer car” as adults.
Look, just because a peer works 18 hours a day doesn’t
mean he or she gets more done or is more effective.
It just means that your peer chooses to run the hours race
because he or she feels it is the best means to get ahead.
Don’t let your peers’ actions pressure you to run the
wrong race. Just stay
focused on providing meaningful results that provide value to the
take on too much “life” in work/life balance - Achieving
work/life balance doesn’t mean you cram more and more stuff into
the life side of the equation to balance out a high-octane work
life. Achieving good
work/life balance means doing both in moderation and minimizing
in your life. You
could be working a 40-hour work week and still be stressed out
because of the non-work activities you’ve committed to.
Doing too much life can be just as stressful to you and
your loved ones as doing too much work.
Don’t feel obligated or pressured to fill up every hour
of your week with life activities.
Doing both in moderation helps you attain the key benefit
of work/life balance; a low-stress life.
the quest for work/life balance means first doing some serious soul
searching and coming to grips with your true life priorities.
If you acknowledge you are a workaholic and don’t want to
change, then by all means work 18-hour days.
If you do want to change, though, you need to accept the
challenge head-on and get on the road to a more balanced lifestyle.
You may be surprised at how your quality of life increases and
how little it truly impacts your career aspirations.
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