The Balancing Act: The Work-Life Balance

 
by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
March 11, 2014
 

While your job is very important, it’s important to note that it’s not the only important thing in your life. You have family, friends, and… you… to think about as you carefully construct your life to maximize joy, success & fulfillment in all of the arenas in your life. We like the “buckets” analogy. You have a bucket for each area of life: family, friends, you, and work. But—each day, week, month & year, you have a limited amount of time & energy you can put in each bucket. The balancing act between keeping each of those buckets at a reasonable level is called the work-life balance.


It’s hard to know when you’re pouring too much into one bucket, and not enough into another—but a good way to help figure that out is to ask questions like: Am I exhausted all the time? Are loved ones around me frustrated with the time I’m spending in one “bucket” or another? Do I find myself missing my family? Do I ever feel refreshed? There are a ton of opportunities for distractions from what you need, but it’s important to know when to tune out those distractions and focus on you.


One helpful step is to set clear boundaries for yourself, loved ones, and your employer. Know when you need to go to bed to wake up, feel refreshed, and get to work on time & ready to do your best work. Know how much time you need to set aside for family & friends—and most of all: YOU. While it’s important that you work hard during work hours, make sure your employer knows that you need a balance. Remember: If you value your employer’s time (be on time, work hard, strive for healthy relationships in the workplace), it’s likely they’ll value yours & respond well when you create boundaries. A few good boundaries to set might be things like: Not working off the clock, limiting unplanned overtime, bringing it to your boss’s attention if he or she schedules you at time you’ve previously mentioned doesn’t work, and be sure to take your allotted breaks. In many cases, with family, friends or employers, it’s important to know when to say “no”—and you shouldn’t feel guilty when that need arises!


Focusing on yourself is important, too. Be sure to stay active, getting regular exercise (even if it’s going for a walk, stretching, or actively playing with your kids!), and stay healthy by getting rest, eating well, and taking appropriate you-time. Maintain relationships that help you grow, and try to minimize ones that are negative or waste time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. There are lots of ways to balance the four buckets: you, work, friends, and family—so don’t be afraid to try different things if something isn’t working!


No one would ever claim that the work-life balance is easy—but it’s absolutely fulfilling on many levels when it’s achieved!
 


 

Kim fancies herself a professional communicator. She has experience in writing, graphic design, and social media, and is always looking to expand her knowledge base into other fields of communication. She loves people, coffee & Seattle (including the rain).

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