TSP • @myTSPnet
More than one in four Americans describe themselves as “super stressed.” Between building careers and managing our hectic personal lives, it's no wonder so many people feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities. The term “work/life balance” may seem like a unicorn in the working world equivalent to good airline food or a printer that can’t sense fear. Following these steps will help you create boundaries for your personal and professional life and allow you to take control of how you spend your time.
Stress can adversely affect your productivity and efficiency in the workplace as well as weaken your immune system and decrease concentration. Learning to manage stress effectively is a vital part of creating work/life balance. Avoid burying yourself in work to escape personal problems. Instead, opt for a walk or run to clear your head before facing your problems head-on.
To keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed with work, break large projects into smaller tasks and set manageable goals for accomplishing each of them over a specific period of time. Make sure to include personal commitments in your timeline to avoid conflicts with work on those days. Reward yourself for staying on track with your timeline by taking a short break from work to rest your mind.
Taking work home and answering emails late at night has become too common for many employees. Decide on set work hours and stick to them, whether you’re working from home or at the office. If you feel like you can't get all of your work done during these hours, it may be time to re-prioritize. Designate tasks into different buckets: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important and neither important or urgent. Identify the time of day when you are most productive and designate your most difficult tasks to that time. This will help ward off procrastination and allow you to use your time more efficiently.
At home, commit to “unplugging” when you're outside of working hours or on vacation. Alert others to when you will and will not be available and place just as much importance on personal time as you do on your work. Utilize this time to relax by not overcommitting yourself outside of work and realize that you do not have to do it all. Learning to say “no” is vital to the success of your newfound balance.
Be honest with your friends and family about what you need from them and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice from your colleagues when facing a seemingly insurmountable task or problem. Often an outside perspective is needed to illuminate an alternative solution to the issue at hand. Mental Health America asserts that people with strong support systems even have more aggressive immune responses to illnesses and are overall healthier people than those without support.
We’ve all heard the saying that to have good friends you need to be a good friend. Part of maintaining your support system is supporting others when they need you. It’s not selfish to set work aside once in a while to focus on these relationships. A strong support system will benefit both your personal and professional life in the long run.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Finally, treat your physical and mental health as your top priority. Schedule exercise as you would a meeting and stick to it for a long list of benefits: more energy, clarity of mind, the ability to complete more tasks in less time and of course physical health. Prioritize regular checkups with your doctor and seek help from a mental health professional if needed. Take time to do the things you love and enjoy relaxing with friends and family often. Above all, remember that the happier and healthier you are, the better you can do your job and the more valuable you will be to your employer.
Work/life balance is only attainable when you create and implement boundaries between your personal and professional life. Having the tools to do so means creating clear priorities that reflect your values, managing the stress of a large workload and busy personal life, disciplining yourself to stick to the boundaries you have set, nurturing your relationships and putting your health first. What are you waiting for — take control of your busy life!