5 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Albert Einstein said that the key to maintaining your balance is like riding a bicycle. You have to keep moving forward- he’s right-to an extent.
What Einstein doesn’t mention is where that bike is heading. Momentum is a powerful force; it’s what keeps us moving forward. By pedaling onward, we can accomplish goals and feel empowered. Occasionally, however, you can lose your stability and begin to let momentum take control- think traveling downhill on a bike, having a great time, letting your mind wander, until you see a rock right under your wheels. Your bike skids, and you fall.
If you are having a hard time maintaining balance between work and your life- you may feel like the bike rider tumbling downhill. Read on to learn five ways to maintain your balance and avoid those skidded knees.
The first step in this process, other than getting kneepads or avoiding steep down hills, is knowing where those pesky rocks are. And from here, I invite you to do a little exercise with me. This is step one- and no, it’s not riding your bike down a hill.
1. Create a Time Pie Chart
Awareness is key. It is important to know what your barriers are and this exercise is the first step. Bust out your Crayolas and start color coding areas of your life (work, exercise, nutrition, time with friends and family, traveling, life maintenance, etc). You want to have a color for every area of your life that takes up a significant amount of time- or those that you feel should. Then do your best to create a large circle- I know, it feels impossible- and section off your pie, coloring in each pie slice proportionate to the time you spend in one area on a given day (i.e. if 50% is work, half of the pie is colored in). By the time this is complete, you should be able to see the rock that is going to knock you off balance. With this information, you are now ready to move on to the second step.
2. Create a Self-Care Schedule
Now, I am not going to force you to get a planner. AND I am a firm believer in being able to visually see how you are spending your time and after making your pie chart, you can see how pictures really are worth a thousand words. Now that you have identified a specific area you would like to have more of, it is time to start penning that in to your schedule. Yes, PEN. The kind you can’t erase. By doing this, you are setting a boundary for yourself and for those around you that you will be taking this time to do what you need- whether that is meditate, run, or sit and stare at nothing- pen that in. You can do this for one piece of your pie or multiple if you’re feeling super ambitious.The important part of this process is to make time for it, prioritize it, but to never feel like if you don’t, it is the end of the world. There is always tomorrow.
3. Create a Decompression Routine
Besides your new exercise regime or meal prep that you have decided to start, I suggest creating a decompression routine that you can begin as you are walking out of the office to the time when you pull up in your drive way. This can be as simple as turning up the radio and singing at the top of your lungs with the windows down, to calling a colleague to vent about what your boss said, to listening to meditation tapes, to stopping at the gym. The point here is to get work out of you physically and mentally so that you can be present at home.
4. Leave Work Stuff at Work
Some people have difficulty disconnecting from work. Don’t worry- I have suggestions for that too. Try leaving necessary work supplies at work (i.e. laptop, files, etc). Or if you really can’t bare that, start smaller and lock them in your car. Allow yourself time to decompress, come home, eat dinner, put your kids to bed, and spend time with your people before walking back to the car. By creating this boundary, you are also demonstrating to the people in your home that you want to be fully present for them- no distractions- and what a loving gesture that is!
5. Work Hard, Play Hard
Don’t worry, I’m not going to start rapping over here, but Wiz Khalifa does have a point. It’s all a balancing act and sometimes riding your bike down hill super fast is just what you need! We work in order to provide ourselves with the means to have a world we love to live in- which includes spending time with those we love. We are social beings. So schedule a date night, grab drinks with your girlfriends, go on a hike with your dad. Be with others that fill up your emotional fuel tank. And now, here’s the kicker- ENJOY IT.
If you are often checking emails or feeling nervous about a deadline, make a list of work stuff that needs to get done and write down when you will do it, if need be. Once that’s out of your brain, you’re freeing up mental space to embrace the F U N.
Balancing, juggling, compartmentalizing- all of these ‘ings take practice. Be gentle and patient with yourself. Voice your intention to those you care about and ask them to give you subtle reminders if your penned plans turn to pencil. Love yourself through the process and watch how your attitude at work, towards yourself, and with your loved ones changes when you set positive boundaries!