If your work involves a lot of emailing and phone calls, modern technology has made it possible to actually carry your job with you wherever you go (in the form of the cell phone in your pocket). But it’s not healthy to be “on call” all day, every day for your job. Work-life balance is something that a lot of people strive for, but how can you actually achieve it?
How to balance your work and life:
Define what balance means to you.
The most important thing to realize is that work-life balance is just that–a balancing act that will sway back and forth depending on the needs of the day (or week or month). With that in mind, you need to define what balance means to you. What parts of your work and life are most important for you to balance? Who’s involved in this balancing act? By picturing what a balanced life looks like to you, you’ll have goals to strive toward.
Understand what you have the power to change.
To better balance work and life, you’ll need to make some changes. Unfortunately, not everything is within your control to change, so it’s important to know what is. By making a list of small tweaks and changes you can make, you’ll set yourself up for immediate success and feel confident to tackle bigger work-life balance issues. If workweek dinners are always unplanned and rushed, try making them ahead of time over the weekend. If you’re carrying more of the load at home, ask your spouse or kids for help.
Think big when it comes to balance.
Small changes can certainly help, but there are a couple big changes you can make that will help you balance work and life.
- One idea is to ask your manager for a more flexible schedule so that you’re able to work when it’s most convenient for you. The argument for flexible scheduling is is that flexible schedules help people deal with “life” issues like doctor’s appointments and car repairs outside of work hours, making them less distracted and more productive when they’re at work.
- Another big idea is to ask if you can work from home, from as little as one day a week to as much as all the time. If you’re already expected to check email when you’re home from work, then you’re already working from home. But working from home on a more regular basis will save you commute time and stress, and actually make you a more productive employee. Working from home also makes you feel empowered to better balance work and life.
- A final big idea is to consider downsizing your job. There are plenty of part-time professional jobs that allow people to continue working and getting a paycheck, but which reduce the number of hours you’re working so you have more time for life. Think about where your money goes, what your priorities are, and where you can cut back at home. Working 30 hours a week instead of 40 can make a huge difference for your work-life balance.
If work-life balance is constantly on your to-do list, think about all the ways, both big and small, you can make changes to positively impact that balance. While the scales will always tip back and forth, you have the power to make that balance become steadier.
Brie Weiler Reynolds is the Director of Online Content at FlexJobs, the award-winning site for telecommuting and flexible job listings, and a contributing writer for 1 Million for Work Flexibility. Brie provides career and job search advice through the FlexJobs Blog.