We talk a lot about balanced living. You know having a solid work life balance is vital for both your mental and physical well-being.
We all know it. But doing something about it? Really seeking to improve work life balance? Sometimes, that’s a different story.
It’s often really hard to figure out how to get from here to there. It’s similar to trying to focus on abundance or generating wealth when you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck. Or thinking about getting in better shape when you’re too achy and weak to even walk to the front door.
It’s difficult to think about improving work life balance when you feel so far behind that you can’t even consider a lunch break.
So what do you do? Do you just give up? Keep telling yourself you’ll live a more balanced life someday?
No. That’s not the answer. The real solution is finding things you can change – right now – that can make you feel more balanced – like you do have more work life balance – even when you feel like you’re so far behind you’re first.
See if you can make your work hours more flexible – try to schedule your work for your most productive times
A business owner or even employee, is more productive when they feel fulfilled in all areas of life. This is actually the major component of work life balance.
If you work for yourself, then you are the boss. Let go of the belief work should happen at certain “set” times. This also means ignoring the self-talk telling you non-traditional hours are somehow “less” professional than trying to make the 9-5 fit for your life and your schedule if it doesn’t.
If you work for someone else, this can be trickier. However, you owe it to yourself to try and see if your boss is open to a more flexible schedule. More and more companies are moving this direction. The key to successfully negotiating a flexible schedule is showing your employer how it stands to benefit the business. If you can do this, current data shows you are likely to be successful.
And if you’re the boss and an employee comes to you and desires a flex schedule or flex hours, keep this in mind, “Given the often random nature of our lives—we may like schedules, but that doesn’t mean they’re always feasible. So, instead of rewarding employees for getting a good night’s sleep and working reasonable hours, why not encourage staff to get their work done when it makes sense to them?” (Susan Gawronski on http://themuse.com)
If your boss won’t consider flex hours or a more flexible schedule – or if you just can’t find the time in your own business to allow more flexibility for yourself – you may want to entertain taking a pay cut
Your initial response to this statement may be fairly negative. However, studies show that most people who make this decision end up very satisfied with the choice.
Many people seek more money – a higher income or higher salary – really and truly because they believe it will make them feel happier. However, this is rarely the case because for a lot of them, more money comes with more work and/or more responsibility. Therefore, it doesn’t create the happiness desired.
On the other hand, more freedom – freedom to spend with people or on things you like, love, and/or enjoy – has been shown to dramatically increase happiness and satisfaction. Even if it doesn’t currently seem like you can financially take the cut, you may still find yourself so much happier that you are able to see things clearer and even balance your budget better – or make small sacrifices that don’t feel like sacrifices when you feel happier – so that you don’t miss any reduction in income at all!
Learn how to maximize your free time – know when to use it to relax and when to use it to get ahead
Everyone – even the busiest of us – ends up with at least a little free time now and then. Figuring out how to use it to best improve your personal satisfaction – thereby, in effect improving your work life balance – is the key.
Here are some tips for figuring out the best way to use any spare time you might “find”:
Choose work if:
- If you have been occupied with family and/or friends and have gotten behind at work, use the extra time to get caught up. The satisfaction you get from clearing your work slate, will make any remaining time after that, much more fulfilling.
- If you have big deadlines looming and you can’t relax until the preparation is out of the way, use the free time to go ahead and get the work done. Especially if you can see the end in sight, you may be able to push through and get it done quicker and more effectively to get to the other side.
- If you have a lot of energy, take advantage of it! Pick two or three projects and knock them out. If your energy is super high, you may find you even have time to get ahead and still do something you enjoy as well!
Choose relaxation if:
- If you are sleep deprived, overwhelmed, or over stressed, use the time to relax. You will not be able to do your best work this way anyway so it will likely do you good all the way around to just take a break.
- If you are maxed out on work and you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, use the free time to relax and do something that makes you happy.
- You’ve accomplished some major things at work and you’re the Golden Child right now. Most likely, this came with some sacrifice and you deserve to “reward” yourself with some play time now too!
Yes, there are times when you may find work life balance elusive. And it’s understandable that it may be hard to even know where to start to make changes if you can currently barely tread water.
However, just remember the key to all of these points is realizing there are always some things – even if small things – you can do at any time to experience a more balanced life.
It’s worth it to look for changes you can make now. You’re worth it.
What can you change – or try to change – now to make tomorrow just a little bit better?