Balancing Work Life and Home Life
My father made his career as a CFO of a few big companies throughout his working life. He’s enjoying retirement now and I am lucky enough to be able to visit he and my mother at least once a week to help where I can. Last weekend he kept asking me if I was okay and said I seemed stressed out. It’s hard to explain to him WHY I’m stressed out because times have changed so much since he was in the work force.
My father was the King of Compartmentalization; When he clocked out, work was done. He was free. Cell phones were just becoming mass produced and no one would think of working from the home computer at that time. USPS mail was still necessary and everyone relied heavily on the fax machine (remember the fax machine??). My, how things have changed.
While it isn’t necessarily our fault that we’re stressed, each one of us has the power to heal ourselves but it will take EXTREME AWARENESS in order to fix what’s become broken over time.
BROKEN: Feeling like you’re not “able” to have free time for yourself.
BROKEN: Working long hours to where it affects your home life and family.
BROKEN: Stress resulting in crying, headaches, soreness, tension, emotional issues & depression.
BROKEN: Lashing out at co-workers, friends and family members.
BROKEN: Feeling like you’re drowning, like you’re running and getting nowhere, like you’re stuck in your job and have no way of getting out.
Being Broken Isn’t Normal - Let’s Rescue Ourselves
You need confidence and an understanding of your self worth in order to fix yourself. Regardless of how great we may think we are at our jobs, we are all replaceable. And while some may find that a worrysome thought, its also evident that there’s not much we can do about it and so… what does worrying about it do for you? Well… nothing good, that’s for sure.
Your Self Worth: Do you live to work, or work to live? I’d prefer to work to live. But sometimes my family feels that I live to work and that is not how I want to be. So, I’ve come to realize that I DESERVE MY OWN TIME. As a matter of fact, I NEED my own time. When I dedicate time for myself and for my family, it refreshes me in time for the next day’s work. It makes me to be a better employee and improves my efficiency.
DEDICATE TIME TO YOURSELF
In order to do it right, you need to set defined START and END times to your work day. These are hard pressed rules; Rules that cannot be broken. In your head you must be understand and believe in the value of YOUR TIME. You deserve your own time! Your entire life is not owned by the company or establishment you work for, nor should it.
If you find yourself working for someone that intrudes so much that you are unable to function and appreciate YOUR TIME, you must begin the search a new job. It’s that simple. Life is what you make it - The “Just Do It” Nike slogan is really quite brilliant, because it IS that simple. If you set goals for yourself and believe in them they’ll happen. You just have to see the end game and then work backwards from there. If you want a job that is fun, challenging and allows you to be well-balanced mentally, FIND THAT JOB. Find it. Just do it.
SILENCE YOUR INNER MONOLOGUE
During the work week I wake up at 6am and my inner monologue starts almost immediately. “OK I have to wash my hair this morning. That customer is coming in today to pick up some product and I have to remember to get on that conference call at 10am. Is it going to rain today? Maybe I can wear my boots. If I can’t finish the budget by 3pm I’ll have to bring it home and see if I can finish it here. Oh crap, I didnt write back to Andrew’s questions. I gotta do that first thing. Man I need a coffee… maybe I can make tea? No I don’t have time. Hopefully someone makes coffee at the office before I get th… I think I left my reading glasses in the conference room….” and it goes on and on for hours. I don’t even realize it much of the time!
Can you try to sit in a quiet place for FIVE MINUTES without your inner monologue talking, and no other sounds or distractions getting in the way? Try this and you’ll realize how loud your life is. Try actually walking around your workplace without your inner voice saying a thing. Just observe.
Now dedicate spans of time per day to focusing on NO INNER VOICE. Five minutes, ten minutes.... Before you know it you'll be a pro at quieting down this head noise and will be more aware of your self and surroundings.
TIME MANAGEMENT SAVES LIVES
Once you understand that you have the power to control your life and your inner voice, you’ll be able to approach your work day differently. I have something to tell you - something quite empowering: You’re very busy; There are a lot of things to be done in a short amount of time; There will always be tasks you’ll need to complete; It will never stop; The river will keep flowing.
Instead of reading these words and feeling completely overwhelmed, find comfort in this! You have a job and all you have to do is master the art of time management in order to prioritize tasks and accomplish your goals every single day. Isn’t it wonderful to have a job? Isn’t it great to know that there’s enough work to keep you employed? Now lets organize things so you don’t feel like you’re powerless against the workload.
Here’s a great article by Tim Maurer from Forbes called, “Be More Purposeful in 2019 With Seinfeld’s Productivity Hack,” which re-introduces an organizational device many of us forgot about: The wall calendar. “Oh, but I use the calendar on my phone to list out my meetings,” you say. The fact is, there is nothing more fulfilling than physically marking a day complete. Maurer, however, details a more intricate use of this calendar. Essentially he suggests setting a few different types of goals for yourself per day to complete and marking off each one in kind.
Mark 1: A Personal Goal of the Day
What is an important personal goal you could complete? Meditating? Reading? Whatever it is, mark it off on the calendar with a | line.
Mark 2: Physical Exercise
Exercise makes your body and mind feel good and you don’t have to be a hardcore gym rat to feel the necessary effects of this. Go for a walk outside at some point during the day (at least!) and mark this completed task on the calendar with a — line .
Mark 3: The Hardest Task is the First Task
Maurer suggests tackling a work task first thing when you get in to work. Whether it takes 1 hour or 4 hours, block off the time necessary to get this off your plate and accomplish it. Once done, mark this with a \ line. Make a to-do list for the next day and accomplish it - mark it off with a \ line.
Mark 4: Do Something Helpful For Someone Else
"For me, this notion of helping other people may be something as involved as reaching out to contribute effort to someone else’s project, but it can also be as simple as picking up the phone to see how a colleague or friend is doing, or sending a word of affirmation or commendation by email or, better yet, a hand-written note.
What has been especially interesting to me is that the completion of this task—while it tends to be seen as the “lowest” priority—often offers the greatest satisfaction.” - Maurer.
I found this to be quite inspirational and a personal goal of mine. Mark this with a / line.
Before you know it, your calendar will be full. It will BE full. You’ll look back on all the lines you drew and realize you ACCOMPLISHED many things for yourself, for your career and for others around you.
BLOCK TIME FOR TASKS
Most of us carry with us a cool, simple tool that can help us manage our time better every day: the phone alarm. I use either my phone alarm or the alarm feature on my Fitbit Versa watch to either remind myself to STOP at a certain time or to START a new task. I have an alarm that goes off at 4pm most days which reminds me to stop work, clean up my desk and write up my goals for the next day. I also have a 2:30pm alarm which reminds me to take a 15 minute break away from my computer. Sometimes I just walk around the office and connect with my team, or I go make myself some tea. It clears my mind and now that I’ve been doing this, I feel more in control of my day.
Along with time management comes prioritization. Here is it’s definition: “The action or process of deciding the relative importance or urgency of a thing or things.” All of these things that are overwhelming your work day; What are their relative importance or urgency, really? Are some more important than others? When do they REALLY need to be done?
This is when you need to list everything out that you have to do and set up REAL dates of completion. Some great tools are available to you that will help remind you when items are due and allow you to visibly see your workload (and show others!).
ASANA is an example of an online tool that helps you and/or your team organize, track and manage your workload. It’s very easy to use and really helps put the to-do items as well as all of your completed tasks into perspective. There are many of these available online (some more expensive than others) but you could also set up a simple excel spreadsheet to be your “work bible”. It depends on your ability to self-govern.
MENTALLY CLOCK OUT
If you accomplish what you need to via the steps above, you’ll feel more confident in your work life and will be able to let yourself mentally clock out. This is something every one of us deserves - each day and each weekend - in order to live a healthy and balanced life. Set a time for yourself to end work. For me, I really do try to end at 5pm: I pack my bags, I leave by 5:25pm at the latest. I either go to the gym or go home, make dinner and do things for myself and my family. If things are dire for whatever reason (busy season, some major event coming up, etc etc.) I’ll do ONE TASK in the evening as long as it doesn’t take more than an hour, but this is very rare. Sometimes I do what I call “Work n’ Wine Wednesdays” where I tell my husband, “Hey, I’ve got to work a bit at home on Wednesday” so he understands that I have planned this and I’m drawing a line that I promise I won’t cross which is making this be an every-evening thing. I can do this because I make sure to accomplish a lot during the work day! I’m a time management master! You can do it too.
Practicing these steps will make it easier for you to breathe and will allow you to develop a new awareness of your self worth, your talents and your life.
Have tips that could help others tackle their day with confidence? Comment below!