Nowadays, Queens, we wear more hats than we can probably count. From being women, mothers, business owners, students, partners, etc., etc., etc., we have our hands full on a daily basis. But, can we truly do it all?
These days, the term “work-life balance” seems to be thrown around everywhere. The term is a bit loosely defined, but it generally refers to how well you do (or don’t) manage the responsibilities and relationships in your life. When responsibilities become too great or too overwhelming, the relationships you have with family, friends, and, most importantly, with yourself can begin to suffer.
It’s not always easy to detect when things shift, and one area of your life starts to take over to the detriment of others. It starts out subtle, but it will lead you down a slippery slope.
Let’s be honest, we all have competing demands in life, and the busier we get, the easier it is to get swept away into an unbalanced situation. Studies show that a poor work-life balance can result in unhealthy levels of stress, unhappiness, and even reduced productivity.
Fortunately, though, it’s not too late to hit the reset button and find that happy medium again. They say life’s a balancing act, so here’s how to walk the high beam like a pro!
How to make sure that your work-life balance stays in check:
Learn how to let things go. Trying to be perfect and be everything to everyone only ensures failure. Learn how to say “no” when it’s needed. Cut out the things in your life that are stressing you out and just don’t matter. The weight lifted will likely be heavier than you had realized, and it’ll free you up for more important things.
Establish boundaries at work. As technology continues to advance, we are now accessible 24-hours a day. Sit down with your boss and discuss what the expectations are of you and set boundaries on things like your availability outside of work and how often, if ever, you’re able to work overtime. When you and your employer are clear on what you expect of one another, you’re far less likely to fall into a pattern of working around the clock. If you are self-employed, set work hours for yourself and do everything in your power to stick to them. Otherwise, before you know it, you’ll be working until midnight every night.
Prioritize your time. Figure out what you want your priorities to be, not what you think they should be. Ask yourself, “If I could only focus on one thing in my life, what would it be?” At the end of every day, do a brief assessment of your daily activities. How did you spend your time? Which parts of your day were the most and least productive? Are there activities or people in your day that don’t seem to add anything? If so, cut them out. Your time is too valuable to waste on meaningless activities and is best dedicated elsewhere. You may have a to-do list with 50 tasks on it, so you need to prioritize those tasks into four categories: Urgent and important Important but not urgent Urgent but not important Neither urgent nor important That answer is your top priority. What would you focus on second? Third? Fourth? Fifth? You’ve now identified your top five priorities. Yay!
Be selfish about your “me time.” You can’t be the best version of yourself, Queen, if you’re rundown and don’t get a chance to recharge. As we always say, self-care is imperative. Even when you hit a rough patch, and your calendar is on 10, don’t give up the time that you have dedicated to yourself. Hit the gym—exercise will improve your health and increase the production of endorphins, chemicals that make you feel happy. Or, take half an hour in the morning to meditate—just 30 minutes a day is enough to reduce stress and anxiety and increase social enjoyment and happiness. Watch an hour of television before bed. Regardless of what you choose to do with your “me time,” don’t be tempted to give it up when your calendar starts to get full.
Ask for help. We are more productive and happier in our lives when we have a strong support system around us, so reach out to your network. Vent to a friend if you need to. Ask a co-worker to help you pick up some slack on an overdue project. Learn to accept that sometimes the demands upon you are greater than what you can carry and humbly ask those around for you for help. You’d be surprised who’d love to pitch in.
Concentrate on one thing at a time. Forget multi-tasking. It’s not possible to focus on two things at the same time. Instead, devote your full attention to the task at hand.
Turn off your devices. Schedule time to turn off your phones and tablets and then stick to it. For some people, it’s nearly impossible to detach from work with all the devices available and notifications coming in around the clock. But, it can be highly beneficial to find some time each day to go device-free. Recent studies show that evenings tend to be the best time of day to do it.
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a form of meditative practice. Introducing any kind of meditation into your life can result in reduced stress, better attention and concentration and calmer thinking. Stretching, yoga, breathing exercises, and traditional meditation are all ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily schedule.
Finding the right equilibrium between life and work isn’t about the number of hours you devote to one or the other. It’s about establishing a general set of priorities in your life and committing the time you have outside of work toward improving and maintaining what’s important to you.
That balance will inevitably shift at times because life is unpredictable, and you can’t plan for everything. But, by focusing on clearly defined goals instead of rigid schedules, you can eventually achieve a balanced and more flexible lifestyle. Establishing a different balance takes determination, patience and commitment. Don’t pass up the opportunity to regain control.
Figure out what you want in life, figure out how work/life balance fits into those goals, and then work to make that balance happen. Just keep in mind that there will always be more work to do, but we only have this one life to live.
As long as you are defining the life that you want and chasing after that life, you will eventually find the balance that you’re looking for.
Remember, Queens, you can’t do it all, and that’s okay. Balance is beautiful. What’s the most important thing to remember though? You can do anything once you stop trying to do everything. Happy balancing, Queen!
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