A delicate balance: Finding a happy medium between the demands of family and career

Monday, June 1, 2015
work life balance
(Job Journal)
kgo-Job Journal

SACRAMENTO (JobJournal) -- If you're feeling stretched thin from your job, ask yourself: Do I live to work or do I work to live? Chances are your job consumes an inordinate portion of your life. In fact, according to a 2012 survey by wrike.com, over half of American workers feel overloaded.

While the US leads the world in productivity, we pay for it with a high number of employees experiencing burnout due to overwork and increased stress - a condition seen in nearly all occupations, from blue collar to upper management. Beyond the sheer number of hours on the job, causes range from personal ambition to pressing family obligations, and even the accelerating pace of technology.

Like most people, you are probably working harder and longer than you used to. Finding balance is more difficult than ever before. Yet, according to Wikipedia, 64 percent of workers feel their work pressures are "self-inflicted."

Everyone agrees that balancing work and home life is important, but how to accomplish that is another matter. With a few simple strategies, however, it may be easier than you think to find greater balance between your personal life and your career.

Here are some practical suggestions for increasing your enjoyment of both these major aspects of your life:

Make time for family and friends. Regardless of how busy you are, it is critical to spend time with people who are close to you. Spending time with friends is also a great way to recharge mentally.

Decreasing the amount of stress you feel at work may be a simple matter of time management: set more realistic goals and deadlines; schedule more time between meetings; refrain from making plans every weeknight. Freeing up small stretches of time can add up to a big difference in getting the most out of life.

Ask the pros. Do you know someone who seems to have it all? A tight-running family ship filled with happy passengers and an advancing career to boot? That person is probably one of the best sources of information you can have. Asking what has worked for them may give you a better idea of what could work for you.

Love what you do. Even a high-pressure job is less stressful when you fully enjoy it. Enjoying your work gives you more satisfaction and personal fulfillment. If your job doesn't motivate or stimulate you, consider making a change. Dr. Randall Hansen, who writes The Career Doctor Blog, suggests a number of ways to achieve this.

First, he recommends modifying your current work situation by exploring accommodations with your employer that could allow more flexibility with your schedule through telecommuting, job sharing, flextime or fewer hours.

If that is not possible, Hansen suggests changing jobs, either within your current organization or by finding a different employer more willing to work with you. It is also possible your career is simply too stressful or time-consuming and that a major change in direction is necessary to regain control of your life.

Use technology to simplify your day. Mobile technology and smartphone apps offer myriad ways to organize, prioritize, and be more efficient about meeting your obligations at work and freeing up more quality time at home.

Find a hobby or pastime. Doing something you find enjoyable is a great way to forget about work for awhile. And changing your focus has an added benefit beyond relaxation: A clear energized mind is more creative and open to accepting new ideas.

Pursue other interests. Whether that means taking a class, volunteering for a cause you believe in, or committing random acts of kindness, we all need to pursue personal and spiritual growth.

Go outside. Schedule one day or night each week for recreation - anything that's physical and outdoors. Getting more exercise on a consistent basis will boost your energy and make your life feel more well-rounded. So stretch your legs and begin taking deliberate steps toward a more balanced lifestyle.

Take vacations. It might seem heroic to keep your nose to the grindstone, but everyone needs extended time off at least once a year. Lack of a break from your regular routine negatively affects your ability to perform at your maximum potential.

Disconnect yourself. Today's technology has made it very difficult to cut ourselves off from the demands of our job and personal relationships. But occasionally breaking those connections is essential to creating some semblance of balance in your life.

No one is suggesting that creating balance is easy - it's not. But even incremental improvements are well worth the effort.

Courtesy of JobJournal.com and Brandpoint Content. Copyright 2015 by Job Journal. All rights reserved.

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