Having an unbalanced work life can cause stressors that can result in burnout, both mentally and physically. Burnout is the mental and physical exhaustion caused by being overworked or stressed. With our modern lifestyle, one can struggle to find a balance between work and personal time. This is especially true for those who have responsibilities beyond their own self-care (e.g., child-rearing and caring for disabled or elderly relatives). It is natural to strive for the best results in terms of life demands, but it can lead to an unbalanced work life. Being unbalanced may have unhealthy results, such as sleep deprivation, poor diet, moodiness, illness, stress or fatigue.
Each person has their own limits when it comes to sustaining a balance between work and personal life. To be mindful of a sustainable work/life balance, consider the following:
1. Be aware of your limitations. Know what is important to you and know that you cannot do it all.
2. Avoid bringing work home and home to work. Make a mental note to transition between work and home life.
3. Learn the value of planning and organization. Manage time well by prioritizing and setting routines.
4. Add fun every day. Enjoy life with play and a laugh.
5. Nourish your body. Having a healthy diet, good night’s sleep and routine exercise can add energy.
6. Control time-wasters. Avoid overcommitting yourself to unnecessary tasks or hours watching TV.
7. Expect the unexpected. Life is unpredictable even with a routine; be flexible.
B-A-L-A-N-C-E can be elusive, but being mindful of the above can be effective in managing a work/life balance that is less susceptible to stress, sleep deprivation, poor diet, fatigue and illness.
Being aware of your limitations will help you avoid making decisions that overcommit yourself. The following five questions can help you decide if you should take on a new task.
1. Does the current schedule allow for this commitment?
2. Why do I want to take on this responsibility — possible advancement, self-satisfaction or obligation?
3. If I accept this commitment, what changes are needed in my schedule?
4. What other tasks or projects can I eliminate to make room for this commitment?
5. Do I have the resources I need to accomplish this goal?
If you answer negatively to any of these questions, either decline the task or accept the task, but reassign a lower-priority task whenever possible.
Avoid bringing work home and home to work. The work-to-home transition can be difficult for some individuals. Work tasks tend to linger on one’s mind as you return to personal life. Some of the following may help in easing your mind away from work-related items:
1. Make a to-do list before leaving work so that, as you write them down, you allow yourself to let go of the day’s stresses and leave the thoughts behind.
2. At the end of the day, leave your desk or workspace organized and neat for the next day.
3. During your commute home, distract yourself with an audiobook or soothing music.
4. Institute a “quiet time” policy once you get home. This policy makes other family members aware that you need time to unwind before jumping into home issues.
5. Keep wholesome snacks available at home. This will allow you to refuel before preparing dinner.
6. Organize family time. Set up a timeline that will allow each family member to talk with you about their day.
7. Ask for help. Share your home tasks. When everyone pitches in, the home issues do not spread into work.
A clear separation of work and personal life allows you to focus on either work or personal life instead of being distracted. Planning and organizing your day will allow you to have control and balance over your daily schedule. You will not feel rushed and will not become stressed in completing your tasks. Allowing things to just happen does not allow you to keep balance. Controlling, planning and organizing your schedule is the best way to reduce issues that may arise in your day or project.
Making time for oneself aside from work and others is not necessarily ignoring others’ needs. When one makes a conscious effort to balance work and personal life, it is a positive step toward healing from the effects of stress. It restores energy and renews the spirit. This positive step can be done by adding fun to your day, providing a healthy diet and controlling time-wasters. In the long run, these positive steps can help in providing better care for others. Plan flexibility into your schedule. Being flexible in your daily work and personal life will allow you also to have a control of your work/life balance. Expect the unexpected.
If you would like to obtain further assistance regarding creating a balance between work and personal life, you can contact Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500 for a confidential consultation or appointment. You can also obtain additional information by visiting our intranet site at http://intranet/intranet/ESS/Index.htm. Be well.