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How To Strike a Better Balance Between “Work” and “Life”

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Photo: Ketut Subiyanto for Pexels

Are you looking for a good New Year’s resolution? Consider these facts: According to a recent report, the average pandemic workday is 48.5 minutes longer than before. It also shows we are attending about 13 percent more meetings and sending 1.4 more emails per day to our colleagues. This uptick in productivity is great for your company and career. But as you head into 2021, ask yourself this: Is it wreaking havoc on other areas of your life? Could you make some changes in the upcoming year to make life better for you and the people you love?

Our work/life balance is already in jeopardy thanks to the impact of COVID-19. Extended workdays only intensify the situation. We are all working hard at our jobs while trying to homeschool our kids, keep the household in order, and still carve out time to connect with loved ones, and enjoy our lives. It’s a challenge for everyone.

When you work from home, the “workday” becomes a slippery slope—especially when you’re constantly interrupted by your kids to help them get their schoolwork done online. If you’re not careful, meeting your work demands in this chaotic environment can crowd out your other priorities. But you can take back control by getting intentional about protecting your work/life balance in these unusual times. We all need time to recharge from work. By setting some healthy habits for greater balance, you’ll be a much better employee or leader during work hours and you’ll have more energy and focus for the other things you value. 

Here is your to-do list for living a balanced life in 2021. 

Recognize the need for balance, and commit to addressing it in your life. If you devote all your time to work, then you’re going to be neglecting the social, spiritual, and a multitude of other important aspects of your life. Be a whole person. Be fulfilled in all aspects of your life. 

Figure out what works for you. The “right balance” is a personal thing and will change for each person at different times in their lives. There is no one-size-fits-all. What we need as a young adult is very different from what we need in our senior years. It may also vary based on our culture, our gender, or any variety of factors. The point is, it is unique for each of us, but definitely something we all require in our lives. 

Beware of the technology chains that bind. Cell phones and computers blur the distinction between work and personal time. Don’t fall victim to this temptation. In the age of nonstop virtual work meetings, you’re probably already sick of technology by the end of the workday. Spend time outside of work away from your devices. Have a conversation with someone in your household. Take a short walk for fresh air. Read a chapter in a book.

Be organized. The most important issues related to creating balance are organization, planning, and time management. This could mean planning meals a week in advance, laying out clothes the night before, and spending as much evening time with loved ones. 

Recognize that balance takes work. Balance is a necessary part of life, especially right now. It’s up to you to manage it. The choices made have costs and benefits associated with them. It is something that always has to be kept in mind to ensure that no component is neglected for too long. Here are some choices to think about:

  • Consciously separate work and home. 
  • Consciously put family first. 
  • Work fewer hours. In work-from-home scenarios, set boundaries between work time and leisure time. 
  • Choose shift work so one partner is home to care for other family members. 
  • Learn to make do with less.

Have goals. Know your goal, and plan accordingly. Know your priorities in life and what’s important. 

Don’t sweat the small stuff. I don’t stress out about daily life situations, and I remember how fortunate I am to be healthy and safe. Most of all, you live only once, and you need to strive for what you want and make the best of it. I don’t want to regret anything I didn’t do now when I am older.

Enjoy life—focus on what is going well, not what is stressful. Take time to play, laugh, love, work, cry, and respect the people with whom you surround yourself. We all make mistakes at home and work. Take time for yourself. 

Exercise to stay fit and deal with stress. People who exercise regularly are often better able to handle stress. Whether it’s 5 a.m. or 6 p.m., exercising can improve the quality of your day. It’s important to recognize the need for leisure activities that you enjoy, feeling connected to the community, and setting goals for the future.

Make a date with yourself. It’s not uncommon for married couples to schedule a date night. I would encourage you to schedule a date night, morning, lunch, or weekend with yourself. During your date time, do whatever it is that makes you happy—exercise, read, meditate, pray—whatever gives you a small break for yourself. You will be surprised at the change you immediately start to feel in the quality of your life.

Remember, there is no magic pill that helps you find balance. We have to spark that journey in ourselves or continue on the cycle of madness. Finding balance has to be a priority. A balanced life does not equate to 50/50 at all times either. However, if we are always running crazy, we will eventually implode. Strive to tilt the scales in the other direction.

About The Author
jackie

Jackie is the author of Wearing the Yellow Suit: A Guide for Women in Leadership (Huron|Studer Group Publishing, 2020). She is an award-winning senior executive with more than 40 years of sustained leadership experience. She dedicated most of her career to the advancement of quality healthcare programs throughout the U.S., helping organizations improve their leadership skills and performance. Today, Jackie works for Studer Group|Huron as an executive-level coach, senior director, national speaker, and best-selling author