Five Ways to Improve Your Work-Life Balance

In difficult and uncertain times, finding work-life balance can be a daily challenge.  This is particularly true when work and school schedules collide, or when there are too many demands for any one person to handle. Here are five ways to recalibrate if your work-life balance is out of whack:

  1. Pause to consider how your task or project could be approached differently. Sometimes, it is useful to pause and consider what larger problem a project is intended to address, and if the current approach is the most effective and efficient.  Driving hard towards the goal may not be the best use of resources when it possible to move the goalpost and declare victory.
  2. Be realistic about who really needs what and when. When considering which tasks to tackle, objectively evaluate the audience and the timing. Focus on the high priority tasks with the largest impact, and let the others go. Often, tasks really do become “overcome by events”—learn which those most likely are, to make effective choices.
  3. Identify tradeoffs and opportunity costs. Every hour spent doing one thing is time spent not doing another. What are you giving up— another project, a relationship, a break—to do what you are doing now?  Consider instead what you will miss at home by spending an excess amount of time at work— what would you regret missing?
  4. Practice saying “no” or “not now.” When seeking to improve your work-life balance, one of the best statements you can make is, “It would be irresponsible for me to take that on right now. Can we talk through other options?” It is hard for anyone to argue with your trying to be responsible, and the subsequent question opens the door to other ways to help. Saying no to a project or a person is an important step to restoring work-life balance.
  5. Consider who may be able to help. Organizations are made up of lots of people with different skills and different obligations. What you dislike doing, someone else might enjoy. The reverse is also true.  Building relationships with colleagues may provide options for completing the work—for both you and them—and builds capacity.

Remember also that you need to set an example for those around you.  Try not to be the supervisor who sends emails late into the night and works 12 hours a day—and then tries to celebrate the value of work-life balance. Actions speak louder than words!  Log off and celebrate life!