How to create a work-life balance

Does your job depress you? Does it leave you feeling physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted? If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, then your work-life balance is definitely askew. Learn how to improve your work-life balance by identifying the pain points and making changes in the way you work.

Do you find yourself caught in a mire of uncertainties, in your work-life? Your professional life is a dread; you find yourself stuck within a dark tunnel, without that proverbial light at the other end. Don't squirm, your status describes almost half (of course, I speak figuratively) the working population.

A lot of people go through life-situations hoping for change; expecting their circumstances to transform. Often, they have more questions, than they have answers. This is specifically true where people's professional lives are concerned. They want an improvement in their work-life; they want it to be more productive, satisfying and healthy. They dream big and have hope.

Well, it's easy to dream; but dreams rarely turn into reality without some work going into them. If you have a vision you also need to make resolutions. Trust me, on this. If you want to improve your work-life, you will need to make resolutions and work towards changing things around you.

It's never too late to make resolutions that are practical and favourable. Resolutions do not have to come with a time stamp, they don't have to start at the beginning of the New year or in this case at the beginning of your career. You can begin to make positive changes anytime you choose – it's time, whenever you decide.

Work and routines

People, rarely, if ever, experiment at work. Most people that I know, choose to play it safe, they follow routines and avoid taking risks, in their workspace. They are content with routines that they practice. But, did you know that routines aren't necessarily the best solution? They can, in fact, be a hindrance to the direction you want your career and work-life to proceed.

If you seek personal and professional fulfilment, know that you will need to step up, and consciously, work towards your goals. And this guide will show you how to accomplish those goals.

Review & assess your work-life

Resolutions can best be made and pursued, only, when you know what needs to be changed. Spend some time to critically analyse your career and all of the components that make it what it is. List the positives and the negatives, especially about things that you like about what you do, and things that you don't.

You may hate the six-day week or the short deadlines. Your manager could be a taskmaster. Your co-workers may not be the best people to be around; they could be inharmonious, creating create a toxic working environment. On the other hand, the perks could be irresistible and make it all worthwhile.

The exercise of listing the positives and negatives of work-life is a step towards achieving the direction required to bring in change. Answer the following questions to understand the things that you can work at, to bring about a change.

  • Is your work satisfying?
  • Are you happy at work?
  • What is it that you like the most about your job?
  • What things about the job do you detest the most?
  • Name just one thing that you wish you could change about your job?

The answers to these questions will give you a blueprint to work with. The next step is to create a workable plan.

Chart a plan

This shouldn't be difficult. You won't need to make major changes, not initially. Your goal will be to chart a plan to improve your work-life.

  • What is it that is missing?
  • What's it that you would want more of?
  • Would you want something(s) to stop?

Remember, your analysis must be critical and to the point. Be truthful, don't be guided by emotions. The idea is to get you to your goals, and not have you become distracted, by trivial, inconsequential stuff.

You know what you want. Below, I am listing thoughts that I have had others tell me they want. You might spot your goal right here, or it might just pop up in your head, as you read through what others wish for –

  • To become more productive at work
  • To break the glass ceiling and rise to the top of the corporate ladder
  • To be actively involved in decision making
  • To work with the top management team
  • To have less work pressure
  • To take time off, without guilt/fear

Do you recognise any of these goals?

Once you identify your goal, write it down and begin working on an effective plan, to help you achieve it. This becomes your resolution. Do you see how you are no longer just shooting in the dark? You have something concrete to work on. And this makes it a more realistic goal.

Often people are at a loss, unable to identify their objective or how to achieve it. You cannot attain your goal and will remain one among the crowd if you have no idea what it is that you want the most. You'll feel empowered if you establish a goal and plan to achieve it.

Determining a goal may not always be easy, take your time to gauge your work, what makes it click and what are the pain points that you encounter. That should make it easier for you. Get down to the little things -

  • Evaluate your dreams – where do you picture yourself on the career graph?
  • Are there things that you can alter to enhance your work-life?
  • Is something hampering your work life or is your personal life in turmoil, because of your work-life?
  • Is it both? Or are things fine on those fronts?

Finding a balance

Life becomes a drudgery when the work-life balance is skewed. You become the worst casualty. You have little or no time to forge relationships, do things you like or have some me time. An existence that revolves around just work, can drain you mentally, physically and emotionally.

It is in your own interest to work to create a healthy work-life balance. Your bosses won't be benevolent and do it for you. It is for you to draw the line and know where to stop.

Formulate doable plans that won't dislodge you from your current position, at work. Make small, but significant changes. Simple things can go a long way. Stop carrying work home, especially that which can be done the next day. Don't stay after hours to complete targets, for the same reason.

Workaholic is not a tag you want, not if it's ruining everything else. You work for a reason and don't ever forget that. Go back to the pain points that you'd listed and work at ironing them.

If you are overworked, haven't gone on a vacation in a long time or get home only to slip into bed, then things aren't really honky dory. You need to fix matter and create a balance. You should be able to get home to relax and unwind. You should be able to find time to pursue hobbies and do things that you like doing. You need to be able to unplug and recharge! It's the recipe that you need in your life. It is this that will prevent burnout and depression. You don't want to be a victim of circumstances. Pave the way for a better life for yourself and your professional success.

On the other hand, if you are someone who spends their time, at work, participating in discussions on online portals, remain logged into their social media accounts, text people or constantly surf the net, you might need to change that, by focusing more on the work you do.

I've had people tell me that their engagements outside of work, while they are at work, do not distract them from work that needs to be done. Well, that's nothing but a load of hogwash. Everyone knows that employers don't employ people and give them 'free' time, to pursue personal activities, during working hours. If you regularly find time to carry on indulgences, while at work, then you really have a problem.

My suggestion would be to limit such activities to the minimum and focus on your job. These distractions are self-created and ruin the work-life balance. Step up, so you're more productive.

Build healthy & strong working relationships

Healthy relationships sustain us in all walks of life. It's important to create healthy relationships with people, at the workplace, because then you get positive vibes.

Instead of holding grudges and having enemies around iron out any differences that you might have with colleagues. It isn't possible to survive a hostile environment, without it having an adverse effect on you.

Co-workers can be nasty and gossipy. Managers can be demanding and unhelpful. And their toxic behaviour can have an unfavourable impact on the way you function at work. You can't do much to change them. But there's a lot that you can do to change how you react, around them.

Ignoring obnoxious behaviour is one easy way to maintain your sanity. It is always best to stay away from people who emit negativity. If that still doesn't work, have a word with the HR. Sometimes, a circular on acceptable behaviour can change things.

Analyse your own behaviour too. You could be the toxic one – change what you can about your own unhealthy behaviour to forge healthy relationships. It takes an effort to be a better person.

Enjoy what you do

Let's be honest, not everyone is lucky to land a dream job, doing something they love doing. Most people think of themselves as being in a rut. They work because they need the money. Not everyone can be passionate about doing something that's far from enjoyable.

You may have a job that pays well, but it's far from fulfilling. There's isn't much you can do to change what you do, is there? But you can fashion an environment that makes your job more pleasing.

Cultivate meaningful friendships with your co-workers, friendships that extend outside the office. Working with people that share much in common acts as a tonic that can pump in new life, to a boring job. You are no longer working with a co-worker when that person is a friend. Can you picture the change in the entire equation?

Get the most out of your job

You have to find ways to fall in love with your job. Work towards this goal. To find that work-life balance, you have to be resolute about making changes. Don't give up without trying.

I had someone tell me that their effort is not worth it. Their workplace sucked and everyone around them, at work, was dowdy and miserable. None of these tricks could change things, is what they had told me. This was sometime last year. I met them a few months later, and they said they tried the changes I suggested. And that they feel more at ease.

They had begun to feel content at work. They had recently been on a road trip with a few co-workers and were pleased with the friendships that they had formed.

There is no set pattern, and no guarantee that you'll find similar success, but there is no harm in trying. If you really want to get the most of your job, then I suggest resolutions. Half the battle is won when you know what you want, the other half is easier to conquer because you know exactly what that is.

And the worst-case scenario isn't bad either. If, despite trying everything mentioned here, you still can't get anything out of your work, then maybe, you need to change your resolution to find a new job.

Resolutions are generally eventful. Most people have a fixation on starting a change at the start of something. Like the first day of January, for instance. I think change can happen anytime, and that anytime must start the minute an idea creeps into your brain. Of course, you need to work out the minute details, and then go for it. All you need is that drive to make positive change.

My mother always said, there's only one of you, and you need to make things work for yourself - be it health, success, happiness or a future. Accordingly, you do whatever it takes to be happy in your workplace. Make changes to accomplish your resolve, no matter what time of the year it is.

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Author: Reena Upadhya18 Jan 2019 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 8

Author has written a very detailed article and all the tips mentioned are worth trying to restore work-life balance.

I would like to add a few more points. There is a fine line between perfection and excellence. Our motive should be to excel in our work. Perfection is something that is not easily accessible to everyone. During childhood days it may be easier to achieve perfection as demands are less and there is a lot of time available. As age progresses and responsibilities expand, it is better to let go of the habit of perfectionism and instead try to excel in the tasks. Running behind perfectionism can create lots of pressure. It is one of the reasons why people get depressed in their workplace.

A few changes made here and there can really tune in everything. It is not easier to change old habits but it is not impossible at all. Analyze what habit is taking up too much of time at the job. What changes can be made in the structure of life so that life can become easier? An individual cannot accomplish everything. Thus, it is okay to get rid of doing it all attitude. Keep a focus on only those tasks that you specialize in and activities that you value the most. Rest of the things can be outsourced. It will relieve some pressure from the shoulders. Moreover, outsourcing the responsibilities to others will help others to prove themselves.

It is very important to look for a job that interests you. If the present job disinterests you, it is high time to accept the challenge and seek a new job. Always question yourself whether the position that you are at present or the one that you are offered that interests you? It is obvious that a person can contribute his best only if he finds his job interesting.

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