When I tell people I write about work-life balance the response I get most often is, “I need some of that!” Don’t we all?
The problem is we tend to think of work-life balance as a destination we hope to arrive at one day but like most of the things we want in life (happiness, love, success) work-life balance is a way of living, not a badge received at the end of the race.
Work-life balance is all about balancing your body, mind, and heart. It’s not about how much time you spend but how you spend your time. You don’t have to be perfect to enjoy balance in your life- just do what you can.
You can start today by discovering small ways to create a life that is more balanced, and then all you have to do is keep it up! Some days this will be easier than others, and that’s okay. Keep trying. Keep practicing. This is a life well-lived in the making and you do it every day.
Okay, so how do you do it every day? I’ve got some ideas about that.
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The Dos & Don’ts of Work-Life Balance
create balance in your life every day.
make excuses for putting balance at the bottom of your priority list!
enjoy at least 15 minutes of “me time” each day.
skip taking breaks at work. You’ll be more productive if you take breaks, I swear!
stay hydrated and eat good food.
gorge yourself on junk food. A little is okay in my book- remember balance is the goal!
take naps. Naps are a great way to recharge.
stay up too late arguing politics on Facebook, or indulging any of your other internet vices!
declutter your digital life. Get rid of the things that aren’t adding value to your life.
plop yourself down on the couch and channel surf. Enjoy shows and movies you love and then get up off the couch and do something else!
get some exercise! Exercise comes in many forms- walking the dog, housecleaning, biking, running, yoga, or everyone’s favorite activity- going to the gym.
push yourself beyond your limits. Find your limit and stretch into it instead of just recklessly pushing beyond it.
spend time with people you love.
let your dislike of other people get you down.
have fun every day! Life is as fun as you make it!
forget to smile! A smile a day keeps stress at bay.
check one item off your to-do list.
expect yourself to do it all.
say no when you need to.
feel guilty about saying no.
let go. Let go of your worries. Let go of your fears. Let go of your judgements. Just let go.
take on other people’s attitudes, emotions, or actions. If it doesn’t belong to you there’s nothing you can do about it, anyway!
accept yourself as the beautifully imperfect individual you are today. All you can do today is the best you can, where you are right now.
put yourself down for making mistakes. Mistakes are okay!
be kind to yourself and others.
complain. Complaining is bad for your soul, and probably your complexion, too.
love! Love yourself! Love others! Love your life! YEAH!
I love your comments! What other dos and don’ts do you have to share?Join the Conversation
I’m burned out. I’m exhausted, disillusioned, irritable, and depressed- all symptoms of job burnout. Here I am, writing a blog about work-life balance and my life is out of balance. How did I get here? How do I get out?
What I’ve learned from my experience with job burnout was surprising to me. I was doing all the right things to avoid job burnout. I rarely work more than 40 hours per week, I get 7-8 hours sleep every night, I take breaks, I do yoga, I go for walks every day, I practice mindfulness, I’m generally happy. Again I ask, how did I get here?
Burnout isn’t just the result of working too much. My job burnout was influenced by several factors including lack of support, lack of appreciation, mismatch with organizational values, and poor job fit.
I was in such an extreme state of chronic exhaustion I became concerned about my health, but checked out fine medically.
I found an online burnout self-test from Mind Tools and scored 66 out of 75, achieving the test result: You may be at very severe risk of burnout – do something about this urgently. “No kidding,” I thought to myself.
Despite doing all the right things to take care of myself, asking for support, and maintaining a positive attitude I couldn’t mitigate the burnout. And, let’s be honest, I wasn’t doing my best work in this situation despite working harder and harder.
Ultimately my only option to reclaim work-life balance was to resign my position, and that’s what I did.
Through this experience I learned there are many causes of burnout- some obvious and others that are less obvious. While I needed to change my situation to find relief, my efforts to manage stress did help minimize the long term effects of burnout. I was better positioned to evaluate my options and promptly make the right choices for my health and well-being.
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Causes of Job Burnout
Lack of control
While there are many factors you can’t control in your job and in life, being unable to control, or at least influence, details of your day-to-day activities is frustrating and becomes increasingly stressful over time.
Lack of support
To succeed in your work you need basic resources such as training and functioning office equipment to do your job. You also need information about management and organizational goals, policies, and direction. Without support you are unable to be effective in your work and you may suffer burnout.
Lack of appreciation
Receiving a paycheck is effective motivation but most employees need more than monetary rewards to stay motivated- you need positive, encouraging, and thoughtful feedback.
Work values mismatch
Everyone has work values, such as helping society, making money, having the opportunity to express creativity, having flexible work hours, or having a set schedule. When your personal work values are a mismatch with the organization culture you feel dissatisfied and this mismatch can lead to burnout.
Lack of stress management
We all experience a reasonable amount of stress that can be managed through tools such as communication, self-care, and setting boundaries. If you lack the skills to manage stress, you’re likely to get burned out at work.
External pressure and stress
Managers have a significant influence on the work experience of their employees. Some examples of managers that apply significant external pressure and stress are bosses that micro-manage, are overly demanding, or bosses that are demeaning.
If your boss has unreasonable expectations or is unclear about his expectations it will cause stress. You may also have unrealistic expectations of yourself, your boss, and your organization. Unreasonable expectations may lead to burnout.
Poor job fit
Job satisfaction is significantly influenced by our day-to-day activities as much as factors like our organizational culture and management style. A good job fit is found when your daily work activities match your skills and interests.
How to Avoid Job Burnout
Do your best and forget the rest
Do your part to do a good job and let go of the aspects you can’t control. When you obsess over factors out of your control you create stress in your life. When you focus on the things you can control you’re more likely to experience personal and professional satisfaction.
Ask for what you need
You may think your boss knows what training or equipment you need to do your job effectively, and surely effective managers possess this information. It’s possible, however, your boss may lack the training he or she needs to be an effective manager. Ask for what you need and you’re more likely to get it than if you keep it to yourself and seethe quietly in resentment.
Handle feedback professionally
If you’re not getting the feedback you need, ask for it! If you are getting feedback and it’s all negative, look for ways to understand the feedback, use it to your advantage, and make improvements. If you continue to receive only negative feedback, it may be time to move on.
Find ways to manage your stress such as setting boundaries, taking breaks, getting a good night’s sleep every night, saying no, and recharging your batteries.
Improve work-life balance
Work-life balance isn’t just about the quantity of time you spend at work versus home, it’s about the quality of your time. Do more of what you love, and less of what you don’t.
Pursue other opportunities
When your job isn’t a good fit, or your work values don’t match that of your organization, you may need to pursue opportunities in another department, or another organization.
Job burnout is a serious condition that can lead to health problems such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, obesity, heart disease, and more. If you’re at risk for burnout, reassess your situation and take whatever steps are necessary to take care of you!
I love your comments! Have you experienced burnout at work? How did you handle it?
Every word my co-worker speaks rubs me the wrong way. On my way to lunch the car in front of me is driving frustratingly slow- so is the car in the lane next to me. The line at the restaurant is almost out-the-door and when I’m almost to the counter the customer in front of me is asking a million questions and can’t decide what to order. In these moments I feel frustrated and stuck but I have discovered ways to regain some balance and get back to happy.
When I have work-life balance I feel happier, have more energy, deal with problems gracefully, and enjoy a better life overall. I live a balanced life when I take care of myself, embrace gratitude, and live purposefully. Still, I experience moments when my life feels anything but balanced. I feel overwhelmed, tired, and irritable. Little problems seem like big problems and I don’t see solutions.
When I get stuck I can turn my day around and re-balance my life with these 7 quick-fix tips!
Photo Credit: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
01. Do something different
When I feel unbalanced, changing my perspective instantly changes my mood. Changing my perspective often involves literally changing my physical environment. I can take a break from the situation and do something else- anything else.
I may stop working on one project and work on another. I may take a walk, or find a quiet space to take several calming deep breaths. If I’m in the car I can pull over at a convenience store and treat myself to a cool refreshing beverage (or coffee if that’s your thing). What’s important is that I open myself up to a different experience- a more positive experience!
02. Make a list
When I feel stuck another helpful way to get unstuck is to write a gratitude list- the longer the better! It instantly lifts my spirits and gets me out of my head and positively engaged in my life.
Thinking about all the things in my life that are awesome gets me to look beyond my current frustrations and see my life as an awesome whole. So this one thing isn’t the way I want it to be- the good stuff outweighs the bad.
03. Talk to a friend
Spending even just a few minutes talking to a friend is yet another great way to refocus my attention and regain some balance in my life.
When I’m frustrated it’s important I don’t dwell on the problem or start complaining, but rather talk to a friend about something unrelated to my frustrations. I may ask my friend to tell me about their day or discuss a recent episode of a favorite TV show. The key is to engage in a supportive relationship with another person in a positive and happy way.
04. Dance, dance, dance!
Music is one of my favorite ways to positively influence my attitude. It doesn’t always involve actual dancing- only when I really need a mood intervention!
The type of music I play depends on what I’m feeling. I may listen to upbeat music and yes, dance along, or I might put on a peaceful and calming playlist to put me at ease. Music can change my experience and help me re-balance my thoughts and emotions.
05. Laugh a little
When I feel overwhelmed and irritable I’m usually taking life a little too seriously. A great way to get back to center is to laugh a little! I visit a favorite humor website, or find funny videos on YouTube. I have even posted on Facebook and asked my friends to share a funny story with me and ended up laughing quite heartily at the replies!
Laughter works like gratitude- it takes the focus off my current frustrations and allows me to see there’s more to life whatever I’m experiencing right now. When I can laugh a little the big problems don’t seem quite as big.
06. Give it a break
Taking breaks actually makes me more productive and when I’m feeling out-of-sorts I know I need to take a break. When I take regular breaks I maintain my work-life balance but let’s face it- sometimes life just gets crazy and I don’t take all my regular breaks.
If I find myself in need of a break, I can stop and take one at any time. It may feel like I don’t have time for a break but I’ll get more done and be happier doing it if I take a break first.
07. Start fresh tomorrow
When I’m really stuck sometimes it takes a little longer to rediscover my balance. I make sure to get to bed at a reasonable time and start fresh tomorrow. If I’m still stuck the next day, I know it will be better the day after that.
I love your comments! When your life feels unbalanced what is your favorite way to re-balance your life?Join the Conversation
When life gets busy it’s tempting to put yourself last on the priority list. Maybe you’ve got a deadline looming. Perhaps you have a family member or friend that needs your help. Maybe you’ve let something go so long it hardly seems important anymore. Perhaps you think you’ll catch up tomorrow, or whenever you finally have the time to invest in yourself.
You’ve got plenty of excuses for putting yourself last, but there are just as many good reasons to put yourself first. Here are just 5 reasons to put yourself first and reap the awesome benefits!
1. Your health depends on it.
Your physical, mental, and emotional health determines your energy, attitude, mood, and success!
Stretching yourself thin to meet a goal is counterproductive. You may meet that short term goal but you won’t achieve your long term goals if you’re not taking care of your long term health- your health, good or bad, always catches up with you.
Make your health a priority if you want to live a great life. You’ll do better, be better, and feel better!
2. Your happiness depends on it.
Happiness is a journey- not a destination.
Don’t put your happiness in tomorrow by making something more important than you today. The truth is you’re not going to be happy tomorrow if you can’t be happy today.
Do something that’s good for you each and every day- find a way to celebrate you!
3. You can’t give it away if you don’t have it.
Give to yourself first and you’ll have so much more to give to others.
When you try to give to others before yourself your energy and ability gets overdrawn and there’s a hefty overdraft fee. Whatever someone else needs from you, chances are you need it, too.
It’s okay to take care of yourself before taking care of others- in doing so you’ll show others you are responsible and trustworthy with their care.
4. You won’t enjoy what you have without it.
The best way to enjoy a great life is to take care of you.
When you put yourself last you can end up too bitter, resentful, or exhausted to enjoy any success you achieve. By putting your goals last, you diminish the value of your goals and you’re less likely to reach them.
Get the most of yourself and your life by investing in yourself first!
5. You’re worth it!
You deserve to live a great life and the only way to have it is by taking care of you!
Image courtesy of piermarioJoin the Conversation
The benefits of living a balanced life include lower stress, improved health, increased focus and concentration, inspired creativity, and the ability to manage life’s ups and downs with dignity and grace. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But still many of us, myself included, struggle to balance life and take good care of ourselves.
We may think of the weekend as our time to relax and recharge. Just this morning I was telling a co-worker how I was looking forward to the weekend so I can enjoy some much needed rest and refreshment, but there are many ways to unwind and create work-life balance each and every day!
It’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves in times of activity and stress. It’s just as easy to push ourselves during the week and plan to “catch up” over the weekend (or, perhaps, vice versa). I don’t know about you, but I need a self-care intervention!
To inspire healthy habits and balance in my life, I made a list of simple ways to recharge my day. I got a little help from my friends and fans on my Facebook page, too. I’m feeling inspired already!
25 ways to relax, unwind, and refresh your day in 90 minutes or less!
1. Take a power nap!
Time investment: 15 – 20 minutes
I am a master power napper. I set an alarm for 15-20 minutes, close my eyes and wake feeling refreshed.
2. Take a walk.
Time investment: 15 minutes
In addition to power napping, taking my daily walk is one of my favorite ways to recharge. I love how focused and energized I feel after morning walk.
3. Go for a run.
Time investment: 30 minutes
Submitted by Sarah T. on my Facebook page, maybe a run is more your style. Running is good for your heart, your head, and your overall health!
4. Do nothing for 2 minutes.
Time investment: 2 minutes
Can you do nothing for 2 minutes? Okay, you can do something- like breathe. Sit up straight, take three deep breaths, counting to three as you inhale and three as you exhale. Roll your shoulders back and drop your shoulders away from your ears. Unclench your jaw. There, don’t you feel better now?
5. Change your perspective.
Time investment: 5 minutes
Another submission by my good friend Jon Mertz from Thin Difference suggests a great way to refresh your day is to do something different. Approach a problem a new way, or physically change your position, activity or location. Get a new perspective- how inspiring!
6. Write a gratitude list.
Time investment: 5 minutes
Make a list of at least 10 things you’re grateful for right now. Make note of what brings a smile to your face, makes you laugh, feels great, creates comfort and love in your life. It’s a 5 minute attitude booster!
Time investment: 15 minutes
I love the convenience and global connection of my digital devices but sometimes I have to step away from the internet! Unplug for at least 15 waking minutes per day.
8. Play sports.
Time investment: 60 – 90 minutes
My friend Duane shared his favorite way to recharge his day- play soccer! Team sports are a great way to exercise your body and mind, spend time with friends, and have fun.
9. Dance like no one’s watching.
Time investment: 2 – 3 minutes
Have you ever seen someone rocking out in their car at a stoplight? Oh, you saw me, did you? Sometimes it’s a wonderful release to dance like no one’s watching even if you know they are.
10. Enjoy a coffee date.
Time investment: 15 – 30 minutes
The ever-witty Hajra Khatoon from Hajra Kvetches suggested meeting a friend for coffee as a favorite way to take a break. Enjoying the company of a friend over a cup of coffee (or tea) will certainly improve your day!
11. Do yoga.
Time investment: 20 minutes
Hajra and I agree that yoga is a wonderful refresher. A yoga practice can be as short as 20 minutes with a significant benefits to your health and peace of mind. Yoga balances the breath, body, and mind to create harmony in your life- what’s not to love?
12. Put your worries away.
Time investment: 5 minutes
We all experience stress and worry from time-to-time and one way to keep it in check is to write down whatever you’re worried about and place it in a worry box or jar. You don’t have to carry it around with you all the time.
Image courtesy of anieto2k
13. Save some cash!
Time investment: none!
My friend Amanda shared she enjoys taking advantage of mid-week specials at her favorite local coffee shop as a way to indulge. Find discounts in your area to treat yourself on a budget!
14. Read a (comic) book.
Time investment: 30 minutes
My friend Cy shared new comic Wednesday is an event she looks forward to every week. No matter if you enjoy reading comics or novels, curling up with a good book relaxes and builds brain power!
15. Get to bed early.
Time investment: 30 – 60 minutes
When I’m feeling exhausted and drained I know it’s a good time to get to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. Sleep does wonders for my health and happiness.
16. Play music.
Time investment: 5 – 30 minutes
Music is good for the soul, or at least good for my soul. Putting on music that matches my mood relaxes, energizes, or lifts my spirits, depending on what I need right now.
17. Pamper yourself.
Time investment: 60 minutes
My friend Jennifer enjoys what she calls Goddess Beautification Night, or an evening of self-pampering including a salt soak, paraffin dip, pedicure and mud mask facial. That sounds lovely!
18. Do something you love that’s just for you.
Time investment: 30 minutes
I have several creative hobbies including writing, painting, coloring, and crafting. I love spending time on my hobbies and exercising my creative muscles. Whatever your hobby, invest in yourself by doing something you love!
Time investment: 5 – 10 minutes
Stretch your body, stretch your heart, stretch your mind, and stretch your smile. Stretch every day.
20. Hug someone you love.
Time investment: 5 minutes
My friends Adam and Ariadne agree coming home to a loving embrace is the best pick-me-up! That reminds me to hug my husband just as soon as I finish this blog post.
21. Empty your inbox.
Time investment: 5 – 10 minutes.
I love the feeling of an empty inbox, though I must admit my inbox isn’t often empty so I’m going to take a few minutes and remove some digital clutter. If I can’t empty it completely, I’ll delete at least 10 emails I don’t need anymore. Won’t you join me in simplifying your digital life?
22. Spend time with family and friends
Time investment: 60 minutes
My friend Ashley listed enjoying a meal with her husband and relaxing in the hot tub with friends as two ways she recharges mid-week. I only wish Ashley still lived close by because I’d love to get in on that action!
23. Go to a museum or art gallery.
Time investment: 60 – 90 minutes
I love the inspiration and emotion evoked by beautiful art and I don’t do it often enough. I’ll take this as a wonderful reminder to go out and be moved by art in the near future.
24. Spend time in nature.
Time investment 60 – 90 minutes
There is nothing more peaceful than getting away from the hustle and bustle of the civilization and enjoying nature. Whether you live near mountains, oceans, lakes, or plains, spending time outdoors offers a little peace and quiet.
25. Take a ride on 2 wheels.
Time investment: 15 – 30 minutes
I love the unique experience of traveling on 2 wheels. Whether by bicycle, scooter, or motorcycle there’s nothing like the feeling of freedom with the wind caressing my face as I navigate starts, stops, and turns by shifting my weight. It’s a truly zen experience!
I live a full life. I work full-time, I volunteer, I’m a member in more than one professional organization, I’m a blogger, a wife and furkid parent. When I tell people I blog about work-life balance this often sparks a stream of questions about how I do it all. The truth is I don’t do it all, I just live the best life I know how.
I recently became a foster parent, and with this major life change other parts of my life needed to adjust to maintain balance. I am choosing not to worry or grieve over what I can no longer do as long as I’m living a life that’s important to me.
The beautiful thing about work-life balance is my life is in balance when I care for myself and spend my energy living a life that is meaningful and wonderful to me. Work-life balance doesn’t happen when I get it all right, or when I have less to do. Balance happens when I am grateful and content, peaceful and well.
Image courtesy of woooody
It starts with self care
I can’t have any kind of balance when I’m not taking care of me. When I am rested, healthy, and emotionally well I have more energy, make good choices, enjoy more clarity and focus, and I have more to energy to spend on living a life that’s important to me. For me, it all starts with self care.
Add a little gratitude
I’ve found I can’t be grateful and stressed at the same time- those experiences do not exist within the same space. Being grateful every day is all about celebrating all the big and small things that are awesome in life! Gratitude creates balance in my life because when I’m grateful I’m living life fully in the present moment being thankful for everything that’s good in this moment.
And live intentionally
Work-life balance isn’t about how many hours I work and how many hours I play. Balance is the experience of living a life that is fulfilling to me. I spend my time and energy in pursuit of goals that matter so that no matter the result, I am at happy about how I spent my day.
When experiencing balance I’m not living in fear of the past or anticipation of the future- I’m right here, today, and I practice doing what I love and loving what I do!
I experience balance when I mindfully interact with myself, my environment, and my life. Balance happens when my life is happy, healthy, and full.
Work-life balance is like riding a bicycle as I engage different parts of my body and mind, working together in motion. I lean to turn, I put my feet down to stop, I pedal to go and sometimes I coast down a hill, inhaling the wind as it rushes into my lungs, filling my body with the breath of life. I’m constantly adjusting, shifting my weight and focus, joyfully engaging with my life. That is what work-life balance means to me.
I don’t have it all figured out, and my life isn’t perfect; fortunately for me living a balanced, happy life doesn’t require omnipotence or perfection- what a relief! All I really have to do take care of myself, be grateful, and live intentionally.
I love your comments! What do you do to create balance in your life?Join the Conversation