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Do you ever feel overwhelmed because you know that you could not get everything done even if your day was 72 hours long?
Do you feel a complete lack of work life balance because you seem to spend all your time doing what needs to get done, instead of what you would like to be doing?
Three questions come to mind:
1. Is this healthy? 2. Is it balanced?
3. Can it be changed?
We all recognize the value of living a balanced life. So why is it so incredibly easy to get out of balance, and so difficult maintain a reasonable degree of work life balance? Obviously, there are several contributing factors involved, and some of them are very subtle. For instance, how often do you say or think phrases like; I have to, I need to, I don’t have any choice, or I can’t because _________?
The power of self-talk
These are common phrases, but what kind of message do they send to your subconscious? You might as well say: How can I create any work life balance when I am being forced to do things that I don’t want to do and I am helpless to do anything about it.
It sounds harsh, I know, but that is the message that your nervous system is dealing with. You are conditioning yourself to believe that what you want to do doesn’t really matter because you are a slave to forces beyond your control. This mindset doesn’t leave room for work life balance.
With this kind of mentality, your life can only become more out of balance as time goes by. You will progressively lessen the importance of the things that bring you pleasure, while the list of things that must be done continues to grow.
Of course, you will try to convince yourself that: As soon as I get this last project under control I will take some time for me.
But how many times have you said that before? Has it ever happened?
To create work life balance – embrace reality!
Don’t feel like you are the only one, we all struggle with work life balance. I think it comes from convincing ourselves that we are superhuman, that somehow we can do all these things, and still make time for us.
That will probably never happen unless we make it happen! And the only way to do that is to get a more realistic view of the situation, and make some necessary changes. What kind of changes?
Work life balance – the power of choice
To create more work life balance, the first thing you should change is the messages you send to your subconscious about the necessary activities in your life. We are not slaves because we always have a choice. Let’s look at some ways that you can represent those necessary activities to your nervous systems that actually support greater work life balanced.
Instead of I have to or I need to, how about I choose to? As in, I choose to go to work today. Now, the tendency here is to say, No, I really do need to go to work today because I have bills to pay. That sounds logical, but the truth is, you still have a choice. How about this, I choose to go to work today because the money I make allows me to enjoy my current lifestyle.
So what’s different?
The outcome doesn’t change, you are still going to work, but now it’s what you choose to do instead of what you have to do. Instead of being helplessly pushed around by your schedule, you are doing what you choose. This immediately feels more balanced.
You will be amazed at the difference this kind of self-talk will have on your sense of work life balance. Not only will it affect your stress levels and attitude, but it will also influence the way you view the things that need to be done anyway.
The practical side of work life balance
Once you have a more balanced perspective, it’s a good idea to address the way your life is organized. This means looking at ways to actually make your life more manageable and less cluttered. Try this: Write down everything you plan to do so you are not trying to remember it all. I know this seems simplistic, but it will make a big difference. In fact, here are four ways writing things down will help you create greater work life balance.
1. Making a list will breathe reality into your schedule. In your mind, you may have a huge list of things to do today. Once you commit that list to paper, you will quickly see the need to trim things down. That’s why daily planners are so helpful; they have the day broken into time slots. This helps you control the urge to schedule more activities than time allows for.
As you get comfortable with scheduling according to reality, you can purposely leave periodic blanks. In this way, you can systematically create more work life balance by giving yourself some meaningful space throughout the day.
2. Help you focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking is largely a myth, unless you limit it to walking and chewing gum at the same time. Try to block out enough time to make significant progress on a single task without interruption. Pick one thing from your list and devote a predetermined amount of time to it before moving to something else. To improve your work life balance, learn to avoid multitasking.
3. Provide a way to make allowances for uncompleted tasks. Don’t be obsessed over getting everything done that’s on your list. There are always unexpected delays. If something doesn’t get done simply move it to the next available time slot and let it go emotionally.
4. Help you value activities that make you feel energized. Learn to schedule time to do things that you really enjoy. Write them on your list and assign them some priority. If you include pleasurable activities in your schedule you will be more productive while feeling much less stressed out. Doing this will have a huge impact on your sense of work life balance.
Adopt a more relaxed view of productivity
You are not a machine and there is no reason to try to become one. Do what you can reasonably do and call it good. A balanced life is about quality, not quantity. Life is not measured solely by productivity. Take some time to reestablish your sense of work life balance. Once you do, it will be much easier to enjoy the whole life experience.
Do you struggle to maintain work life balance? Have you been sacrificing quality for productivity?
The lines are open?
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