If you spend too much time at work, feel that you never have enough time or energy for fun or find that your lifestyle has become one of unhealthy excesses -- you may need to find some balance.
What is important to you? Is it your family, friends, career, leisure time, sports, volunteer work or hobbies? Because we all have different priorities, goals and values, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to achieving a balance between work and life.
Once you have taken a moment to assess your core values and reflect on your accomplishments and strengths, you will be ready to formulate a plan. Here are some tips to help you balance your life.
Manage your time
1 -- Allocate your time properly
Delegate whenever you can and practice saying "No" when a proposed work project or social event will not advance your career or fit in with your core values. Prioritize your work assignments and leisure activities.
Multitasking accomplishes many trivial duties at once, but be aware that it can also be counterproductive. There are times when you need to clearly identify the completion of a particular task, and times when you must give your undivided attention to a conversation with a friend, colleague or your partner. Perfect your time-management skills and your life will become more balanced.
2 -- Reduce work-life struggles
Research the availability of workplace options, such as flextime, telecommuting, compressed work weeks, and vacation purchase plans. Many companies are recognizing the importance of the health and well-being of their No. 1 resource -- their people -- and are helping them achieve a work-life balance.
Focus on yourself
3 -- Make time for yourself
Create opportunities for relaxation and pleasure and take a break when you need one. Making time to watch TV is important if it's something you enjoy. Plan a vacation when you feel you need to refresh yourself. Just the act of researching and thinking about it will recharge your batteries and offset the stressors of your life.
4 -- Be creative
Find a hobby. Working doesn't count. Try your hand at painting, writing or photography. You may be surprised at how relaxing it can be.
5 -- Develop your support system
Have a "go-to" guy, a best buddy you can talk to who will not judge or criticize. Find a mentor to help you with career development strategies and guide you on office politics. Talk and listen to your lady and your children. Understand your long-term goals and create a plan to reach them. Celebrate your successes and you may find your life is more balanced than you thought.
Connect with others
6 -- Make contact with people you care about
Create opportunities to connect with the people you care about. Call, send an e-mail or visit them. Send cards, clippings or photos or write letters, if that's something you find relaxing. The continuity of past, present and future will help you feel grounded and balanced.
7 -- Plan a date
Schedule dates with your wife or significant other. Waiting until 7:00 p.m. on Friday to suggest going out for a pizza doesn't count. Call her from work early in the week to plan that Friday evening out together and the anticipation will add a spark to your relationship. It will also benefit your sex life, which is another stress-reliever and excellent way to find balance in your life.
8 -- Meet people
It's important to socialize, especially if you're single. Becoming a hermit because you spend too much time working and have no energy for other pursuits is not beneficial. Your employer expects you to be vibrant, enthusiastic and healthy. Your friends want you to be willing to join them for a beer, a ball game or deck-building party, and backing out too many times due to work pressure and lack of time will cause them to stop calling. To keep your work and personal life balanced, you need to meet new people, and exercise your wit, wisdom and social skills.
9 -- Make plans
Avoid working late or taking assignments home out of habit. Do it only when you have an urgent project deadline. It's not a wise career move to be a clock-watcher or an OA5 (out at 5) kind of guy, but it is a good idea to make plans after work a couple of days each week. It will get you out the door at a reasonable hour and refocus your attention.
Whether you plan to go out for a beer with your colleagues, workout at the gym or volunteer at a local shelter, making plans allows you to shift emotional and mental gears.
10 -- Listen to your body
If you feel ill or tired, do something about it. You're not doing anyone any good by turning up at work or football practice with a hacking cough. If you feel exhausted or are suffering from insomnia, remember that stress can manifest in physical symptoms and you may need some time off.
11 -- Eat well
If you find that you've developed a habit of drinking or eating too much, commit to cutting back a little. It's not always necessary to make major lifestyle changes; even minor adjustments can improve your health and well-being.
12 -- Exercise
Go to the gym or get involved in a sport. Spend time outdoors -- it's a good balance to life in the city. Take a walk in a city park, take a drive in the country or plan a relaxing weekend getaway in the mountains or at the beach. Turn the cellular phone off and enjoy the serenity. Breathe deeply and, for a few minutes, let go of all your worries. Exercising and reenergizing by doing something completely different will help you feel better.
A balancing act
"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it."
-Henry David Thoreau
Many of us are workaholics and need to find the right balance of work and personal obligations. We need to allocate our time in a way that honors our commitments to our employers, to others and to ourselves.
Just a few small changes may be enough to make you feel more in control of your life, more relaxed and more fulfilled. For the good of your physical, mental and emotional health, assess all your needs and prioritize what's important to you. The benefits of achieving balance in your life will be worth it.