Balancing the demands of your home life and your work life – not to mention your personal needs – is an ongoing challenge for the majority of Americans. The good news is, it’s possible if you take very intentional actions, both at home and at work, to make your life satisfying.
If you are looking to achieve a better work-life balance, try these tips.
Acknowledge that you can’t give everything 100%
If you try to give 100% effort at home and 100% effort at work, you are doomed for burnout. Few people have the energy, focus and mental clarity to be able to give their all, all the time, constantly.
Instead, it’s important to prioritize what you have to get done and what matters to you. For some, that means passing on a project because you know it will cause you to miss too much time with your family. For others, it will mean pursuing a promotion because it will help you meet your career and financial goals.
To achieve work-life balance, you have to know what is most important to you and what will bring you the most fulfillment. Start by working through the process of determining your priorities. Once you understand what those are, you can begin to schedule out your days accordingly.
Tip: Make a list of Must dos, Should dos and Nice to dos. Let that list guide you in setting your priorities.
Reduce your obligations
If your life feels unbalanced, it may be time to cut back on some of your commitments. This may mean dropping out of a project at work (if you can) or skipping after-work get-togethers to make room for other important things you love, whether that’s spending time with family, going to the gym or walking your dog.
You may also want to delegate some obligations at home. Are you able to hire someone to help with housework? Or is it possible to find an inexpensive lawn service to help with weekly lawn maintenance? Is it time for family members to pitch in more and relieve you of some of the chores you feel responsible for? If you can hire someone or engage family members to take some of these obligations off your plate, you will have more time for the things you love and the things that are truly important and necessary.
Tip: Learn to say no without guilt.
Ask for more flexibility
You may be able to achieve better balance when you have more control of where and when you work. Talk to your manager about the option to telecommute one or two days a week. This would save commute time and give you more time for other things in your life.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more workplaces are allowing telecommuting. This may be the perfect time to request a flexible workweek.
Tip: Talk to your employer about flexible scheduling.
Set firm boundaries
Whether you work at home or the office, and whether you are single or raising a family, set firm boundaries between work and personal life. At work, let your coworkers know what hours you are available to answer emails and calls. And let your family when you need to focus on work each day.
Within your personal life, make sure to set boundaries, too. Work with your family so they understand your boundaries and what you’re able to do for them when. If you're working from home, make sure they know what your work hours are – to help reduce interruptions – and then do the same with your co-workers.
It’s important to be flexible, but too much flexibility can be harmful to your mental health. Try to keep boundaries firm to reduce the risk of being taken advantage of. For instance, don’t look at emails when you are on “home” time and don’t skip out of work to run to do a favor that can wait. By keeping these boundaries balanced, you create enough time to enjoy both aspects of your life.
Tip: Evaluate your values and identify areas where you need more space or areas that drain you of your energy. Then, learn to say no when something doesn’t meet your priorities.
Let go of things that are less important
When you need to spend time at work and spend time with your family, little things just might need to wait – or not be completed at all. Does it matter if your baseboards are dusty? Or if your closet isn’t organized? In the grand scheme of life, these little things don’t matter enough to make you stress about them.
Tip: Instead of striving to do it all, accept the imperfections that come with a busy, satisfying life.
When you know where your priorities lie, you can begin to design a life full of things that satisfy you most and help you build strong relationships with those around you. Though your life may not look perfect to others, you’ll know that it is the perfect life for you.