Work Life Balance
|Time and Energy
People sometimes talk about needing to get a better work-life balance and what this means is that they are dissatisfied with how they spend their time and their energy. Those who worry about their work-life balance are usually feeling that they are spending too much time and energy in an unbalanced way: which means the appropriate amount of time and energy is not being put into the parts of their life that they think they should be going into. For example, someone may be spending a lot of hours in work and feel tired when they leave work which means their family life then gets fewer hours and only the dregs of their energy. For other people it can mean that they have to put so many hours into childcare or caring for others that they don’t have time or energy to put into activities which they want for themselves (e.g. going to the gym or meeting friends or developing their career).
To willingly give my time and energy, even a lot of it, is one thing but it is very different if I feel that my time and energy is being taken from me. This is another element in the work-life balance equation: "am I giving or is it being taken?" Somewhere in this area lies the issue of control; am I in control or am I feeling that someone or something else is controlling me? When we go to work we allow the disciplines of the job to define how we spend our time and how we act this is our option. If you begin to feel that the demands of work are too much and that your control is being eroded then resentment can set in. The pressure of this can also be added to when other people in your life begin to comment that they see less of you than they want or that you don’t seem to have your usual amounts of energy or that you seem to be quite grumpy a lot of the time. Managing your time and your energy better:
If you are planning to re-balance your life then the task is about taking more control of your time and your energy. This is usually easier to think about than it is to put into action. For one thing when you begin to re-take more control of things in your life it means taking control back from someone or something so expect resistance. It’s like going to ask for something precious to be returned to you while the person still is using it – they are not inclined to give it back to you. There will be different pressures put on you to not take back your control and you may even be accused of being "selfish" with your time – in fact you may even accuse yourself of being “selfish”. So be prepared for the inner struggle as well as an outer struggle when you attempt to regain control in your life. In terms of your regaining control of your time and energy it will help if you create a plan, even if it’s just in your head, about what you are going to do. Here are some examples:
- Make a deal with yourself to take an hour out of each day just for you to relax
- Decide to get out into the fresh air every day no matter how busy you are
- Try to get others around you to take on some of the chores that you end up doing
- Here is a hard one……say "no" to things you do not actually want to do…. Just say "no"
- Review your day at the end of each day…take 5 minutes to write down how happy you are with how the day has been for you
- Plan a "treat" activity for yourself each month
- Try writing a to-do list each evening and then try your best to stick to it the following day.
- Leave work on time
- Re-discover a hobby which you used to enjoy but gave up because you were too busy