So far this series we’ve covered a lot of ground so just to give you a recap the steps we’ve examined are:
The Eight Steps To Find Balance At Work
- Manage expectations and reduce perfectionism
- Break up big tasks and set manageable daily goals
- Do important and urgent tasks first and prioritize
- Focus on one thing at a time
- Delegate where possible
- Take breaks and eat lunch
- Avoid procrastinating
- Don’t define yourself by your job performance or status
The Eleven Steps To Find Balance At Home
- Don’t check emails after your contracted hours
- Have your five a day
- Mindfulness meditation
- Schedule in one thing to look forward to each day
- Have hobbies and interests outside of work
- If you have a stressful work day, prioritize relaxing at home
This final week in the series we will take a look at steps eight through to eleven in creating more balance at home, including seeing friends and family, living by your own priorities and taking regular vacations throughout the year.
Step Eight: Schedule in friends and family
It’s important to keep in regular contact with friends and family if you want your relationships to remain strong and healthy. Ultimately we are social beings so it is vital to maintain and nurture our relationships for our sense of belonging, connection and happiness.
If you are really busy you can still text, schedule in a call to catch up, or, better yet, a Skype session or face to face meeting. Try to see friends or family weekly to ensure you reap the psychological benefits of having a close network of social support.
If you believe your friendships are not the best they could be, please read ‘Why Building Strong Friendships is Important For Our Health’ to discover the 10 key behaviors which will improve them beyond measure.
Equally, should you like to develop closer bonds with family you can read ‘The 10 Key Behaviors That Will Ensure Strong Family Bonds Over the Holidays’ (which is applicable no matter what time of year).
Step Nine: Live by your own priorities
Essentially, when we say yes to others we also say no to ourselves. Every yes requires time and energy which could otherwise be spent on our objectives, goals and dreams. The next time someone approaches you with a request, take a few moments to realistically assess if you have both the time and energy to fulfill what they are asking of you.
In honestly answering these two fundamental questions, you will know when it is wise to say no. When you say no you may think you are being selfish however by saying no you are simply practicing self-care and learning to value yourself and your time.
Step Ten: Get enough sleep
Another staple for any happy life is a stable sleeping routine. Sleep reduces stress and has been found to improve our emotional resilience.
There are many tips and tricks you can use to aid a restful night’s sleep, here are just a few of them:
- Don’t take naps during the day
- Stop caffeine six hours before bed
- Stop eating three hours before bed
- Drink milk or Camomile tea before bed
- Meditate before bed
- Have a voice diary using a Dictaphone to avoid your mind racing before bed
- Have a hot bath or shower before bed
- Have at least eight hours sleep
- Have a set time to go to bed and wake up
If you suffer from sleep disturbance and find it hard to get to sleep visit Sleepio, an online sleep program that has been clinically proven to help you overcome poor sleep.
Step Eleven: Schedule regular vacations throughout the year
I must admit that even though the UK has the least amount of paid holiday time when compared with other European countries, compared to the US we are quite fortunate to have around twenty days holiday and in fact, I actually have twenty six plus the eight or so public holidays. But even if I lived in the US I would maintain that it is better to have a little time off often, rather than a lot of time off very seldom.
It is so important that we have systematic breaks from work throughout the year to restore our balance. With this in mind, try to have a few days off every three months or so. Many of my colleagues have a two week break over the summer but I find that if I were to do this I may be working up to five months without rest which, in my opinion, is far too long to go without a break.
If you can’t afford to pay for a proper vacation simply have a staycation instead – you don’t have to go on a road trip or take a flight to have some much needed r and r – you can have a perfectly enjoyable time at home filled with reading your favorite books, trips to cafes, going to the movies and the local mall. With all the benefits taking time off work offers, I would strongly suggest using up all of the allotted paid holiday days your employer has given you.
Needless to say, do not access emails whilst you are on vacation, just simply let your boss know you can be reached by phone, and only tell him this should you feel you absolutely need to.
With these steps you are now equipped to restore a healthy balance between your work and personal life, ensuring that you reap the rewards of less stress, anxiety and chance of burn out. You will have more energy and greater emotional and physical resilience to ailments. Your identity will not be tied to your job and your work performance won’t significantly impact your self-esteem, instead your character will form your identity and be the healthy basis for your self-worth.
Perhaps most importantly of all, you life will be filled with interests and passions outside of work, ultimately allowing you to lead a fuller, more rounded and satisfying life. Make a commitment to following these steps today and begin reaping these rewards for yourself, your life will unfold in unimaginable ways.
Have you found this series on creating a greater work / life balance helpful? What is the one step that you have taken to be the most useful for you? Did you do any of the exercises? If so how did they benefit you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, support and insight from our community, we’d love to hear from you.