How Do You Balance Work and Life?
What does a truly balanced work and personal life look like? I have been told for years that I need to achieve this somehow, but no one has ever told me how to do it. I love my work and I love my personal life so can’t I have both? The answer is absolutely, you can have both.
I’m pretty driven when it comes to my career. In fact, my wife would probably call me a workaholic most days. What has taken me some time to see is that despite the level I reach in my career, it is through my personal life that I receive the most meaning. Does this automatically mean that everyone needs to spend less time at work? Not at all. We need to find the balance that works best for each of us.
A healthy personal life helps to balance your career, and vice-versa. Disconnecting from work, even for a short period of time, is much more important than I realized early in my career. I used to burn the candle at both ends trying to impress my boss with my dedication. What I did not realize was that regardless of how good I was or what I accomplished, as I pushed myself, my efficiency and effectiveness dropped. I was not a machine, and neither are you. We are hard-wired for work, but also for time away from it.
How can we achieve this balance then? While it does not necessarily come naturally, there are some steps that if followed may help ease the stress that comes along with it.
One of the first and most important steps is to recognize and accept that you may be allowing your work-life balance to get skewed. Telling yourself that you are not a workaholic while emailing your coworkers all during dinner is a dead giveaway that you cannot balance your life.
The key to a good work-life balance is that while you are at work, you work. One of the first indicators I look for in someone’s ability to balance is their attentiveness to their work. I could spend a week in an office and tell you who is balanced and who is not. When you are at your job physically, make sure to be at your job mentally as well. Being fully available to your supervisor while at work may help them leave you alone on the weekends.
You must hollow out time for yourself that does not allow work to come in. Your career might require you to be available in case of an emergency, but you do not have to check your email every 30 seconds. Leave as much work as you can at work.
The truth is, stabilizing your work and your life is not as hard as you might imagine as long as you are disciplined and recognize that you receive nourishment from each. I am much more effective in my work and in life when I approach each balanced by the right time away from both.