If you want it all, it’s possible to have a successful career and a happy personal life. It just takes creativity and compromise to balance work and life.
We all want to do a good job. Taking pride in our work and in our relationships drive us. Unfortunately, finding balance in life is difficult; the lines between the two have blurred. According to a report from Ernst & Young, the 40-hour work week is a thing of the past, and more than a third of us find it’s become increasingly difficult balancing work and family.
Even people who telecommute are finding that to stay competitive, they are encouraged to work long hours. “I have my cell with me all the time, and I’ve taken calls when I’m out with my family,” said Ray Fine, an IT person who works for a large computer company. “My wife gets mad at me when I answer it after hours. She says that’s family time.”
Fine has a good salary and is expected to put in overtime. He bills for those hours and, as a new dad, he’d prefer spending time with his wife and son. “It not always possible,” he said.
The report from Ernst & Young, the global assurance, tax, transaction, and advisory services firm, polled 9,700 full-time workers and found people are putting in more time at the office because of low wage increases combined with a rising cost of living.
Balancing work and life
Despite being encouraged to put in overtime, it’s possible to separate work from your personal life. When you’re at your job, give it your best. When you leave the office, unplug. Turn off you cell phone. Or if you have it with you, avoid Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social media site. While these sites are designed to let you know what family and friends are up to, it’s easy to get sucked in. Your intent is to look for 10 minutes; an hour later you’re still tweeting or posting.
The same advice carries over to the office; if you do check your Facebook or other social media status, set a timer for 10 minutes and stick to it. Imagine how much more work you’ll get done without checking social media sites every so often.
At the office and at home, make time to exercise. You can do this with coworkers, family, or by yourself. You can even get a five-minute walk in at the office. If your office has a staircase, take a short break and climb up and down the stairs. Exercise is great at reducing stress and will actually give you more energy.
You can even schedule a yoga class or aerobic workout on your lunch hour. If your partner works nearby, try to arrange for both of you to attend a class. You’ll spend time together and unwind. Plus, taking breaks helps us recharge; we come back more alert and able to tackle the tasks piled up on our desks.
It’s also smart to limit the amount of time you spend with toxic coworkers. Difficult people can make us sluggish and unhappy. “I worked part time at a newspaper office,” Tara Cohen said. “I learned that I had to stay away from the kitchen and water cooler. That’s where everyone gathered and gossiped. I was a novelty since I was there only part time. So, everyone wanted to talk to me. That meant, I couldn’t get my work done. I socialized for five minutes and then excused myself.
Cohen also did her grocery shopping after work twice a week. “On the days when I had too much work and couldn’t plan dinner, either my husband cooked or I brought home takeout,” she said. “It’s essential to make work as easy as possible for me and to let those in my private life know that they come first.
“I also made the choice of saying, ‘no’ at work. I may not climb the corporate ladder as quickly as my coworkers, but that’s okay. I need to separate my work and home lives because, while I love my job, my family is much more important to me.”
Cohen doesn’t refuse all projects. She plans ahead and when it’s possible she delegates to others. She recently got her company to hire college interns who work for school credit. “Other than the training time involved, the interns help out a lot making my job easier,” she said.
July 20, 2017