6 Best Practices for Fortifying Work/Life Balance
In today’s modern societies, the boundaries of work and life have become muddled and the large majority of the populace consider themselves always “on the job”. But, developing an optimal balance between work and life is important to improving the creativity and focus that improves output in work. This in turn improves the quality of life and the positive cycle continues.
Naturally, this is easier said than done, and the struggle with this balance continues to sap the most active minds of ingenuity and creativity. Even major corporations struggle with this balance and designate experts to improving the work/life balance of their employees.
Of all the valuable resources in the world, human focus has been in the highest demand over the past decade. As technology advances and the capacity to concentrate is crucial to making the most of the bountiful opportunities our super modern world extends to us.
The best thing about achieving this balance is that it comes very naturally to most of us. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but the following six best practices can provide some benchmarks to improving the work/life balance you are experiencing.
- Know Your Needs and Express Them
The single biggest obstacle many of us face is misconceptions about what is truly important and the inability to communicate with family, coworkers and colleagues. Knowing what you need to function at your best is the first step in being balanced in work and life.
Your life will have certain needs that must be considered by your work. If you must be home by 6:00 for dinner with your family, or step away from work at 3:00 for a Swedish massage to deal with your back pain, let your boss and coworkers know. You can’t expect other people in your life and work to guess what you need to be the best you are, you must find out for yourself and educate them.
This is true for those who work from home, offices or wherever. There is a big difference between the work approaches of different people, but openly communicating what you need to function well is the first step to greater balance.
- Respect the Rules You Set
Setting rules for your work and life is a great way to consolidate your balance once you have found it. Rules will be very different; for one person it may be “yoga before breakfast”, for another ”cut off work at 7:00 pm sharp”. The point is if you don't adhere to these guidelines, you can’t achieve balance. Furthermore, you can’t expect those around you to respect them either.
You are sure to find every reason in the world to answer one more email after 7:03 or skip your Yoga routine just for one day; it will test you determination to abide by the rules you set. But, provided the rules you set are truly the best for you, you will find they are easier to live the more they are practiced. When others around see your adherence, they will naturally respect your choices for greater balance.
- Understand Your Priorities
The saddest thing to see is people pouring their lives and focus into inconsequential pursuits. Time is the one resource that can never be recovered. All the money in the world won’t buy you a single minute. So, improve work/life balance by letting go of time wasters. Focus your efforts and energy into pursuits that actually matter.
Carpe Diem - Seize the Day! Socrates said “an unexamined life is one not worth living”. Take the time to measure every ounce of effort and focus to be sure it is spent where it will bring you the best rewards, and ask if the rewards you are pursuing are worth your time and attention.
- Respect Your Transitions
It is easy for work and life to become very muddled when one activity leads into another and even overlap at times. Taking the time to transition from one activity to another, allows you to pick up at a better spot when you resume this activity in the future. A cup of tea, your favorite country song or even just ten deep breaths are enough to signal the mind and body that work is over and something else is about to happen.
When you fully disconnect from work, coworkers and the busy world, you can return to all these concerns later with greater perspective. But if you are taking your cellphone to the dinner table or your tablet to your vacations, you’ll never gain the clarity to approach your work analytically.
- Life’s Not a Sprint It's a Marathon
If you hope to enjoy a long life and successful career, settle in for the long haul, don’t keep running as if you were escaping your current predicaments. Of course, there are times when life is a sprint, and then you must sprint. But you can’t make a lifestyle out of this. Self-awareness is the key here; this will allow you to enjoy the amazing journey called “life”.
- Keep Your Sleep Sacred
The advent of smaller screens and the unprecedented access they provide to social media, news and communications has created a generation addicted to instant-response. This has been proven by U.S. Army researchers to reduce the capacity to concentrate. Studies have also proven that taking time away from email and internet communications can actually improve concentration.
This is not about cutting email and social media communication out of your life as much as it is keeping them out of the two most sacred hours of the day. The hour before you fall asleep and the hour after you rise.
The first task of the day should be reserved for your most critical and concentrated tasks at hand. This will provide you with a sense of accomplishment at the beginning of your day. By the same measure, preserving your final moments of the day before you fall to sleep will allow you to unwind and better assimilate the events of the day and allow you to be better rested when you rise in the morning.
Want more tips on finding a balance? Check out: Benefits of Meditation You May Not Know
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