4 Work/Life Balance Tips for the Real World

It seems just about everyone I know struggles with the same problem: how to achieve better work/life balance. I am fortunate to have a flexible schedule but, even then, it’s not always easy to get it right. If our family dog could talk, she would gladly point out the unfair days when I’ve missed taking her on her daily walk because I was busy with work projects.

The fact is, when aiming to accomplish more with your days, you won’t always achieve perfection. Still, there are some basic work/life balance tips that can help. Here are four you can realistically put into action:

1. Disconnect. This is a big one in today’s tech-driven society, when it’s easy for your boss and coworkers to reach you 24/7 via text, phone or email. Work/life balance may seem like a far-off dream when you’re still talking to your manager from your sofa at 9 o’clock at night.

Set some limits when you’ll handle work issues at home and on vacation. You might be willing to respond to messages until a set time in the evening but then stay away from your devices after that point. People will start to recognize they need to reach you before a particular hour. Or you might inform people you won’t be accessible at all during your vacation, so no one tries to bother you while you’re away.

There may be times when you just can’t disconnect. For instance, if you’ve planned your organization’s annual conference, you’ll need to be available at all hours should any problems arise. Most of the time, though, you can take control over the situation.

2. Set some realistic work/life balance goals. Figure out what it is you want to be doing but haven’t found time for at this point. Make a list of your personal work/life balance priorities. Maybe it’s making time to attend more of your kids’ field trips or it’s joining a group preparing to run a half-marathon in six months.

Determine what you can accomplish with some effort. Can you volunteer for every one of your children’s field trips? Probably not, but maybe you can take time off from work once or twice during the school year to go. Make it happen. Get yourself as committed to your work/life balance goals as you are to your professional responsibilities.

3. Ask for help. If your workload seems insurmountable – and you realize you’ll never achieve the work/life balance necessary for job satisfaction with all that’s on your plate – you need to speak up. Managers want their employees to work hard, but they also don’t want them to burn out or become so frustrated they look for another job.

Your boss may not even realize all that you’re working on right now. Telling the person, “I’ve been working overtime every week for months trying to finish all of my assignments, but I’m not making the headway I’d like. Can you help me prioritize?” is far from a bad career move. You’re giving your supervisor the chance to step in and help.

4. Look for ways to be more efficient. Think about how you do your work each day. You may be able to gain some time just by switching around the way you accomplish things. For instance, rather than feeling scattered all day long switching gears from making phone calls, responding to emails, making photocopies and so on, combine tasks. You can also do the same at home. Grouping certain activities can help you feel more in control of your time.

How do you achieve balance between your work and personal life?