Americans spend a lot of time at work. They come early and leave late and don’t take lunch hours. Some continue to be tethered to the job by cellphone and email long after they have supposedly clocked out. Others try to play catch-up on the weekends or late at night.
A recent Harvard Business School survey found that 94 percent of Americans report working 50 hours or more a week, and nearly 50 percent reported working 65 hours per week, according to Forbes.com.
With all this time at work, that means the rest of life including family time, relationships, and leisure activities are often put on the back burner.
Finding the balance between a career and everything else that matters to you is difficult but necessary to live a fulfilling life. All work and no play makes Jane not only a dull girl, but an unhappy one, as well.
While you can’t get more hours in a day, you can make the most of the hours you have. Start with small changes and focus on finding the things that make you happy outside of your career. And then make time for them!
5 Ways to Create Work-Life Balance and Get More Out of Life:
1) Stop trying to be perfect.
Focusing on the details and going the extra mile may have served you well in school and in getting the job you have now. But perhaps you’re taking the idea of perfectionism too far, especially if you are in the stage of life when other commitments (children, spouses, aging parents, etc.) have stretched you thin.
Think about giving up the idea of being perfect and strive for excellence instead. No one is perfect and it could drive your stress levels sky high if you continue to focus on perfectionism.
It might seem counterproductive to add something to your already-so-busy schedule in order to create more balance, but exercise is the exception to the rule. In addition to helping you stay physically healthy, exercise can help you stay emotionally healthy too.
It can be a stress reliever and a mood enhancer by releasing feel-good chemicals in your body.
If at all possible, unplug from technology away from the office. Even if you are only able to turn off the phone during the soccer match or the dance recital and then must turn it back on afterward, you are taking back the control of your non-working life.
When you are present with friends and family outside of work, be present. Be in the moment. Be unplugged. Make a commitment to not text, email, or take conference calls during the time you have set aside for your loved ones.
4) Eliminate time sucks.
Since Americans feel obligated to spend so much time at work, finding balance might mean getting rid of all those things (and people) that suck your time.
Can you pay someone to run errands on a Saturday so you can spend time with your children? Can you eliminate the proverbial water cool gossip session at work to focus on your tasks and get out of the office at a reasonable time?
Can you limit the time you spend on Facebook and Twitter and spend the time doing something fun with friends? Take a hard look at your life and see what things, even if they seem small, are counterproductive to achieving balance in your life.
5) Make time for you.
Too often, work-life balance doesn’t include making time for you. However, part of that balance comes from not just making people around you happy, but making yourself happy as well.
Try to include activities each week that make you happy. Try to do something, even for a short period of time, which recharges your batteries and ignites a feeling of joy within you.
Work-life balance is not a destination. It is a journey. It ebbs and flows during different seasons in our lives and can mean very different things to different people.
These five tips can help you focus on this goal more, and hopefully achieve the balance you are seeking.