How Can I Balance Work and Family Life?
By: Cynthia Bull
Trying to meet dual work/life demands in today's environment (especially in the U.S.) frequently results in feelings of being unbalanced. If one's general focus and sense of balance becomes clouded, it affects an overall sense of peace. When focus is blurred and peace succumbs to anxiety, unfortunately, it can lead to chaos. This article offers steps you can take to maintain balance both in the workplace and at home.
Psychoneuroimmunology, the study of mind and body, explores how mental and emotional health affects physical health. An article by WebMD feature writer Sherry Rauh (cited on http://www.webmd.com/) lists five practical steps toward better work/life balance. Here are excerpts:
1. Figure Out What Really Matters to You in Life: Personal coach Laura Berman Fortgang says getting your priorities clear is the first and most essential step toward achieving a well-balanced life. The important point here is to figure out what you want your priorities to be, not what you think they should be.
2. Drop Unnecessary Activities: Fortgang recommends dropping any commitments and pursuits that don't make your top-five list, because "unnecessary activities keep you away from the things that matter to you."
3. Protect Your Private Time: "Carve out hours that contribute to yourself and your relationship," says Stevan Hobfoll, Ph.D. psychology at Kent State University. Guard this personal time fervently and don't let work or other distractions intrude. "Stop checking email and cell phones so often."
4.Accept Help to Balance Your Life:Allow yourself to rely on your partner, family members, or friends - anyone who can watch the kids or run an errand while you focus on other top priorities. "Tag-teaming is a great way to create extra free time," Hobfoll says.
5. Plan Fun and Relaxation: "Remember, you make time for what you want to make time for," Fortgang says. If something is important to you, don't brush it aside with a dismissive "I don't have time for that." You are in charge of your own schedule - it's up to you to make time.
Jim Bird (founder and CEO ofhttp://www.worklifebalance.com/) champions the value of achievement and enjoyment in four areas of life: business, family, friends, and self. He suggests that these two aspects are "critical to the success of a leader, his or her organization and the community and culture of which they are a part."
Here are seven more steps to help balance work and family life:
1. Create and maintain a written or electronic work schedule and use it each day on the job. Try as much as possible to stay within those time commitments. An occasional exception is to be expected but need not be disruptive.
2. Keep a home schedule with everyone's activities listed. As much as possible support each other as a group and make certain no member is left unsupported in any activity, remaining tolerant of each other's differences (schedules, preferences, personalities).
3. Share as many family meals together as possible during the workweek. If nightly gatherings are not possible, commit to a specific number of meals together and consider sharing or alternating meal preparation by family members, either individually or in teams. (Establish and keep a "come home time" in order to honor evening commitments.)
4. Spend quiet time together as a family (reading, hobbies, homework or games) where each member can enjoy an individual interest. Everyone appreciates quality time together regardless of the activity, and it's not always necessary to have a group activity going.
5. Make a date with your partner on a regular basis, if not weekly then as frequently as possible, but make a commitment and keep it.
6. Prioritize plans as much as possible, but remain flexible and open to change. When necessary, say "No!" and avoid adding pressure to everyone.
7. Take a break from dwelling on the mistakes of the day and Have Fun Together.
The ability to identify realistic, here-and-now goals and to minimize or eliminate unrealistic goals lessens work/life drama and helps to keep life under control. Circumstances will always change (and often when least expected), and certainly being flexible and amenable to changing times is absolutely necessary. Being an active participant in one's life, following and practicing steps to preserve balance creates balance itself.
CYNTHIA BULL (http://www.cynrje.com/) is an internationally published writer and editor who helps international authors, marketers and speakers add greater value to their products through her top-quality writing, editing and transcription services. She is the author of How To Be A Medical Transcriptionist and Winning At Work While Balancing Your Life, a contributing author of Walking with the Wise Entrepreneur (Mentors Publishing House), cited in Make BIG Profits on eBay (Entrepreneur Press), and Managing Editor of Mentors Magazine Think & Grow Rich Edition. Cynthia has created over 200 book products in the past two years for her clients and, as mentor, helps clients reach their goals through her products, experience and genuine caring. Cynthia writes this feature article exclusively for the Association of Artisan Businesses (http://www.artisanbusinesses.org/), an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the artisan industry.