The term “work-life balance” is unfortunately melding into the modern-life lexicon of watered down catch phrases. But in today’s busier than ever culture, it’s important to pay more than lip service to work-life balance, bringing it from theory to action plan.
To help you achieve this important state of physical and mental well-being, the experts at the Chopra Center say that it’s critical to begin by creating your own individual definition of work-life balance based on the particular priorities presented by your personal and professional life. For example, work-life balance may look completely different to a part-time working parent and a 20-something business executive.
So begin by defining your personal and professional priorities, then try the following steps from the Chopra Center to make work-life balance a reality in your world:
1. Know where your energy comes from. Part of what makes us feel we’re out of balance is sheer exhaustion, so it’s important to know how to refuel. Introverted personalities get their energy from doing something quiet, such as relaxing with a book or meditating, whereas extroverts might refuel by getting together with a group of friends for lunch. Know which you are, and make sure you take care of yourself accordingly.
2. Be open and discuss work issues. Feeling stressed and overwhelmed at work will quickly destroy any hopes of work-life balance. That’s why it’s important to discuss your work struggles with trusted colleagues, friends, family members and mentors. It’s okay to admit your weaknesses as a professional, as everyone has them. Releasing the burden will often allow you to see solutions, or make you realize that it’s okay to ask others for help.
3. Patience is essential. Part of what puts us on the treadmill is the pace of our own ambitions. While goals are excellent, necessary and motivational, they must be set out in a realistic timeframe, and we must learn to be okay with the fact that life will get in the way and wreak havoc on our plans from time to time. Learning to roll with these disruptions will work wonders when it comes to achieving work-life balance. In fact, they’ll provide invaluable life lessons and growth opportunities if we stop and pay attention.
4. Put your brain on pause. Running from one task to the next puts our brains on overdrive, so it’s essential to put the brakes on in order to pause and give ourselves a “mental moment.” Collect your thoughts and process what is actually happening around you several times throughout the day, and your brain will relax and be more productive.
5. Schedule your fun. The demands of work can be all-consuming, so plan your social activities and ink them on the calendar to make sure they don’t fall by the wayside. They can be as simple as a casual dinner with friends, a movie with your significant other, or ice cream with the kids. Make these activities sacrosanct to help get you back on the track to work-life balance.
7. Use your time better. Part of being unable to achieve work-life balance is the constant feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to get done. So take a good look at your day and see how you can use the time that you do have in a better way. For example, use a long commute time to answer emails if you’re on a train, or enjoy a podcast or audiobook when behind the wheel. Or instead of eating lunch at your desk, take a walk with a colleague and get some exercise while brainstorming a new project.