For most of us, maintaining a work-life balance that makes us happy, means spending time with the people who mean the most to us, and doing things that give us pleasure, satisfaction, and enjoyment. This is the ideal time to take stock of your work-life balance priorities to prevent overwhelm and conflict over the coming months.
Marking out specific blocks of time within your schedule lets you organize your work & life commitments and achieve a workable balance. Many of us struggle when domestic and work demands pile up to the point where it looks that we're simply spinning plates or running to stand still. This article looks at how to prioritize your calendar to create the right environment and supportive framework you need for a work-life balance that brings satisfaction and well-being.
Taking the time to work out in advance which commitments need your attention allows you to adjust and schedule your schedule to reduce overwhelm or overload as much as possible. Taking control of the various compartments of your life so that they work in harmony with each other supports a healthy work-life balance.
There will always be external factors that will appear out of the blue to upset your routines but where you are in control of events, help yourself through sensible and appropriate preparation and goals.
If you have a family work with them to create a 12 month grid plan or time-line on a roll of paper (or use sheets of paper). In the first instance, mark down all known family commitments and obligations. Whether it's the school run, after-school classes or activities, school vacations, INSET days, school concerts, parents' evening, or doctor appointments, note them in your grid. If you have not got a family, list your own (and your partner's) activities and social commitments in a similar way.
Knowing when your presence and focus is needed at home makes practical sense as well as ensures domestic harmony. It helps you to plan your work load and future meetings, travel trips, events or product launches around household obligations and needs whenever possible. Avoid clashes, disappointment, or work-stress by factoring in your personal responsibilities from the very first.
Having marked down domestic domestic commitments, you can move to the next stage in preparing the right environment for a good work-life balance. Block out periods for personal development time. Physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion and fatigue is triggered or exacerbated by a lifestyle which excludes occasions to unwind or take a break.
Allow yourself to think of this time as a way to improve your life and give you energy which you'll take back into your home and work life. It helps you de-clutter your mind, and rest your body. Encouraging other members of the family / your partner to take out similar blocks of time allows you to shift your lifestyles together and reduces resentments.
Taking regular time out on self-development or mental & physical relaxation is as much a matter of changing your mind-set and habits as it is inclining. Having time to help you rest, unwind, or reflect is not self-indulgence but rather a proven and effective way to improve your overall efficiency and performance at home and at work, as well as enhancing your physical health.
Whether you choose to spend this particular time to further your hobbies, meditate, go to exercise classes or for a run, learn a new language or skill, enjoy a long soak in the bath, a walk-in the park, a work-out routine on your wii, or just reading a book without disturbance, do not begrudge yourself the opportunity of blocking out a period in your daily or weekly routine outside your usual domestic, social, or work commitments.
Some of your best and powerful insights, inspirational thoughts, and revelations will arise during this very personal time. Changes of scene, a change of pace, different types of mental stimulation, all these give you a change in perspective. Make a note of these inspirational moments and what prompted them. Do this as an exercise to reinvigorate the value of this time – this will strengthen your commitment if you're tempted to forego the time for other priorities.
It can be a surprising difficulty adjustment to think about "me time" and many people may feel resistant to the idea of spending time on themselves. Yet, few of us can maintain high-performance activity without breaks or opportunities to refresh ourselves, or to gain new inspiration and renewed vigour.
Some people have simply fallen out of the habit of spending such time for themselves. They've become used to devoting their energies to their families first and themselves last. Others have self-belief or self-esteem issues that prevent them from rewarding themselves. Highly stressed, depressed, and overwhelmed individuals can not bring themselves to stop and enjoy the rest they need because their anxieties tell them they simply can not afford the time.
If you've resisted to the idea of blocking out this time in your daily or weekly calendar, ask yourself why this might be so and do the necessary internal work to come to terms with it.
Having earmarked time for family and personal development, block out further time for holidays. Remember, it's up to you to create the kind of balanced lifestyle that gives you pleasure and satisfaction. So for example, if you want to have one long weekend every month (excluding public holiday months), then place them in the grid now. Giving yourself the opportunity to take regular breaks will help you avoid the sense of fatigue and burn-out that makes it more difficult to cope with pressures and challenges.
After you've incorporated the life elements into your calendar, you can start planning for the key work events and projects that you already know will take place in the coming months. Give yourself sufficient time to meet specific project and task deadlines (keeping in mind your domestic situation). Be realistic in your timelines – there's no point in piling up unnecessary stress and anxiety because you've given yourself deadlines that are unachievable or unrealistic.
Your work goals and performances need not be compromised by this new way of thinking. Reducing conflicting pressures, setting realistic deadlines, spending time with friends and family, as well as increasing your energy and happiness, will do wonders for your mental, emotional, and physical health. Your performance, motivation, and efficiency at work will be greatly boosted by your improved sense of well-being and life-satisfaction.
Creating systems and working practices that help you build a supportive environment is vital in giving you work-life balance. Move the items from your grid into your usual offline / online diaries as soon as you've done the exercise and keep up to date over the year.
As with all changes, small but steady progress will help you build momentum and develop good habits. By beginning with your home life, your own personal time, and then work goals you'll start to adjust the way you devote resources to support what matters to your overall well-being.
This exercise will help you to transform the way you think about your priorities and responsibilities. Involving your family is a very simple but powerful way of reinforcing your commitment to achieving the work-life balance you all desire. Working as a family towards a common goal, you can help each other as you make the changes required.