Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Are you struggling with life/work balance? Here are a few ideas that may help.

Sometimes I pride myself in maintaining life/work balance. Yet, there are times when it becomes a struggle. It’s then that I need to remind myself that I do have choices, and there are a few small things I can do to pay attention to myself and what I want to do, in addition to what I must do. I’m revisiting the idea of life balance based on my personal experience, and what I’m hearing and observing in today’s workplace.

If you’re struggling with striking a balance between the energy you give your job and the energy you give yourself or your loved ones, these ideas may help. The tools I offer here are simple and doable. Instead of trying to change your current habits, which may be a huge undertaking for you in the short term, commit to some very small and doable action today that will prompt at least some additional attention in the personal area of your choice. Here are a few examples:

• On a night when you have to go back to work, instead of rushing and stressing through dinner, give your loved one or friend a call mid-day to invite them to meet for dinner to spend an hour-and-a-half of uninterrupted time before getting back to work. Then let yourself look forward to it and enjoy the break.
• If you want or need some time to be alone, make the commitment to a stop at a bookstore for an hour or take a book to your favorite restaurant, or take a walk before getting back to work.
• Make the commitment now that you will not end the day today without spending at least 15 uninterrupted minutes to read with your child from his favorite book, have a conversation with your teen, or place that call to a friend or loved one.
• Isolating yourself? Make a commitment that by the end of the week, you’re going to call a friend and schedule one social outing within the next month that places you in a new environment with new people. Just one call. Just one plan.
• Make a commitment to turn your cell phone off for a set amount of time this evening making you available and present to the person in front of you. Or simply enjoy not being accessible to anyone.
• Order take-out and add candlelight to the kitchen table this evening. A shift in your normal environment sometimes provides a shift in your attention.
• Add one “want to do” in addition to your “must dos” to your planning system. It may prompt you to take action, or at the very least, help you notice that you haven’t taken action.
• Note a loved one’s special day at work or school in your planning system so that it becomes part of what you think about on that day. It may prompt you to make a call—and make a connection—to see how it went.
• Not exercising? Take the stairs instead of the elevator today. Or park your car further away than usual.
• Breathe!

Although there are so many habits and situations that affect our well-being, applying just one or more of these small doable actions towards balance is a start in the right direction. However, if the balance issue becomes an acute, unmanageable concern for you and your family over time, it may be time to explore your efficiencies or re-evaluate your professional and personal choices more seriously.

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