Some say it’s nearly impossible to achieve a work-life balance because three important elements – work, family and health – must be in harmony for this to happen. In a Harvard Business School survey, “94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they work more than 65 hours per week.” These statistics alone show that for many professionals the scales are tipped toward work.
So what do we do?
Author Deborah Jian Lee, an award-winning journalist, provides several ways to help achieve what some think is impossible in her article, 6 Tips for Better Work Life Balance, published in Forbes Magazine October 20, 2014 issue, but is still relevant today. Here are several ways she suggests to achieve a work-life balance:
Let go of perfectionism – Life coach Marilyn Puder-York, PhD and author of The Office Survival Guide, says, “As life gets expanded, it’s very hard both neurologically and psychologically, to keep that habit of perfection going. The healthier option is to strive not for perfection but for excellence.”
Unplug – All of our devices have an off switch. Robert Brooks, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School says, “there are times when you should just shut your phone off and enjoy the moment”.
Exercise & Meditate – What worked in our 30s or 40s may not work going forward. Explore ways to incorporate exercise and meditation into your daily or weekly routine. Be mindful that some activity is better than none.
Limit time-wasting activities and people – This can be a challenge, as we first need to identify what’s most important in our life. You may need to respond to emails in one batch rather than check them all day, or if you serve on boards or committees, you may want to pick one or two that are the most important. These are hard decisions to make, but once you free up an hour or more a week, you’ll be able to spend more time with people and activities that are the most meaningful.
Change the structure of your life – What change could make life easier or more enjoyable? We all have tasks and responsibilities that sometimes become a habit or put us in a rut. Take a step back and think about what you routinely do daily, weekly or monthly, and whether you can incorporate alternatives.
Start small. Build from there – Work-life balance IS achievable and if you follow the steps above you can make this happen.
You may not be able to incorporate all of these six steps into your everyday lives, but even practicing a few will help you achieve a better work-life balance.