As we approach the holidays, we are bombarded with different commitments and events. We struggle to balance family time with obligations at work as everyone prepares for the new year. We all know we should have work-life balance, but what steps can we actually take to achieve this? Well, there are several cognitive and behavioral tactics one can adopt to have a more healthy relationship with work. A good work-life balance, said Chris Chancey, career expert and CEO of Amplio Recruiting, has numerous positive effects, including less stress, a lower risk of burnout and a greater sense of well-being. This not only benefits employees but employers, too. (https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5244-improve-work-life-balance-today.html)
- Have a dedicated “worry time''. Have you ever tried to engage with friends or family right after work and found yourself still ruminating on tasks that didn’t get finished before you left the office? Dedicate 10-15 minutes of intentional “worry time” where you can review what still needs to be finished tomorrow. Whether you write down a list of incomplete tasks or send out a few more emails to tie up loose ends, creating space and time for yourself to think about work will help you disengage from work thoughts outside of the designated “worry time.” If you still find thoughts popping into your head during family dinner, soothe yourself by reminding your brain that you can revisit these thoughts during your designated worry time, later.
- Setting goals and taking intentional steps to reach those goals. There are times when work takes precedence over family time. If you’ve had a big presentation one week, where you dedicated most of your time, perhaps it would be a good idea to set a family oriented goal for the following week. You can make a goal to have a family game night or to take your partner out to dinner. This helps us not to leave important people in our lives on the back burner for too long.
- Take time to unplug. If you keep getting notifications from work or say, from your mom, it will be increasingly difficult for you to take care of your own needs. Setting aside time for quiet reflection can decrease stress as well as providing you with relief from having to respond to anybody in the moment. This time can be dedicated to the end of the day to help you unwind before bed. If you prefer to incorporate this practice throughout your day, perhaps your commute can be a time for silent reflection instead of phone calls or music.
- Use affirmations! This is an underrated technique that is quite effective over time. What stresses you out the most? Disappointing your boss? Irritating your mom? You can come up with phrases to combat specific stressors or they can be more vaguely comforting. “I’m doing the best that I can right now,” is a phrase that reminds us of our limitations with a spirit of acceptance. Over time, we will experience less and less stress if we see a missed call from someone. It gives us permission to relax from daily stressors that we often don’t have much control over.
- Acceptance and Commitment therapists would have us acknowledge that we will never have a perfect work-life balance. Leaning into this imperfection helps us to not be so hard on ourselves when, from week to week, either our personal or professional life may take more of a priority. The work life balance is a cyclical weekly pursuit and not something that can be perfectly cured or overcome. While tips from this list may provide you with some help, we’re only human. Mistakes will be made and the scales will not always be in perfect balance. Taking time for self-reflection and self-acceptance will improve your overall mood related to these issues.
If you find any of these tips to be helpful and would like more suggestions, you can visit BetterUp and see their extended list of techniques for achieving a better life-work balance.