Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing several amazing women on how they juggle all the responsibilities that come with their professional and personal lives. (Stay tuned for the article in our mental health library!)
In addition to sharing what works for them, they provided a slew of solutions for readers, too. Here’s what they had to say…
1. Challenge society’s standards.
In our society, productivity is prized and praised. We reward workaholic ways, even though this is both emotionally and physically unhealthy.
As such, productivity coach Laura Stack, MBA, suggested “challenging the social acceptance — even society’s encouragement — of these common phrases:
- ‘Look how productive you’re being. You are accomplishing great things’
- ‘After all, you possess that strong work ethic your father instilled in you’
- ‘Hard work is good for you, and you’re not about to become a slacker’
- ‘You just love your work; it is your hobby, in fact, and you’re doing great things for people’
- ‘You’re having so much fun that it just doesn’t feel like work’
2. Set priorities.
Sara Caputo, MA, productivity coach, consultant and trainer at Radiant Organizing and author of the forthcoming e-book The Productivity Puzzle, quoted productivity expert David Allen, who said: “You can do anything you want, you just can’t do everything.”
As she said, “This is where it’s important to look ahead, do your planning, set your priorities and goals and then work the plan.”
3. Use your commute to plan ahead or unwind.
Instead of thinking about work well into the evening, leave yourself voicemails of any reminders for the morning, said Stack, also author of SuperCompetent: The Six Keys to Perform at Your Productive Best. Or use your drive time to listen to music or books on tape.
4. Leave work stress outside your home.
The last thing you want to do is take your job frustrations out on your family. “These are your loved ones — those whom you most want to see and least want to irritate,” Stack said. She suggested venting to someone else or agreeing “to a specific time/length to discuss work with your partner.”
If you work from home, having that physical distance unfortunately isn’t possible. What can help is to “figuratively ‘close the door’ on your work each day and be completely present with your family,” Stack said. Need to do work later in the evening? Keep the paperwork inside a briefcase or your office.
“If you’re half-working throughout the evening, you won’t be giving your complete focus to your work or your family, thus decreasing the quality of your efforts on both.”
5. “Put some time between work and home,” Stack said.
If more tasks await you at home, take a break. After work, Stack suggested going to the gym or running errands like grocery shopping or getting a manicure. This can “give you the energy you need to get through the evening’s work” and “put you in a better frame of mind.”
6. Survey the big picture.
Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D, psychologist and author of Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload, suggested trying “The Deathbed Test,” a concept she came across in Steve Jobs’s commencement address at Stanford University.
“When making decisions about your life, imagine yourself on your own deathbed. Looking back from there, what do you wish you had chosen at this time?”
7. “Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to.”
So says Christine Louise Hohlbaum, author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time In Our 24/7 World.
She explained: “So just because the phone is ringing or someone is texting you, sending you an email or otherwise grabbing your attention, you do not always need to respond right away.”
8. Assess your activities and purge the excess.
Oftentimes, we’re so busy being busy that we don’t evaluate what we’re really spending our time on. The key, of course, isn’t to do things for the sake of doing them. It’s to spend our time on the activities that truly matter to us.
So Stack suggested “cutting back on commitments” that aren’t that meaningful. This way, you can make room for the things that are.
As she said: “Do you have to be a member of that organization? Do you have to chair that committee? Do you really want the job or volunteer position you’re working so hard to achieve? Are you content with the personal relationships in your life?”
9. Live an interesting life.
Vicki Hess, RN and author of SHIFT to Professional Paradise: 5 Steps to Less Stress, More Energy & Remarkable Results at Work, and her girlfriends “meet regularly to do things that are out of the ordinary (for us anyway).” Calling themselves “The Adventure Girls,” together they participate in different kinds of physical activities — “zip lining, kayaking, cycling long distances” — and mental ones — visiting an unfamiliar museum or going to hear an author.
Doing these activities “provide[s] richness in terms of relationships and risk taking,” she said. “By challenging myself, I go deeper and am able to reflect on my place in the world. This all contributes to mental well being, a better night’s sleep and good health for me.”
What do you do to find
your work-life balance?
Share your own strategies below.