Would you like more time to do what you want to do? More balance between your work life and your home life? Try these strategies to balance your lifestyle.
If you’re feeling stressed, you have company. 1 out of 4 Canadians report feeling highly stressed most days. More Canadians list work as their main source of stress than any other factor. Balancing work, family, and leisure are crucial for good health.
When your life is in balance, everything you do is more fulfilling. You also have more energy and feel better, mentally and physically.
Take stock of how you spend time
Take a few minutes right now and think about how you spend your time. You may be surprised by what you learn.
Dana had searched long and hard to find a job as an accounting technician, and now that she had the position, she was determined to keep it. In addition to putting in overtime during the busy season, she was taking an accounting course two nights a week. She would rush home after work each day to have supper with her family and attend to household chores. Once the children were in bed, Dana did her accounting homework.
While trying to maintain her hectic schedule, Dana had neglected her family and social life and was not eating or sleeping well. She had become irritable with her family and her co-workers and took her lunch and coffee breaks at her desk. She was beginning to dislike her work and workplace.
Her husband’s concern for her health finally helped Dana realize she had lost her balance between work and personal time. He helped her plan a weekly schedule that still allowed some time for relaxation and some of her favourite activities. He and the children took over more of the household chores to free up her time. Dana started to schedule regular activities with her family and get togethers with her friends. Instead of eating her lunch at her desk, she joined her co-workers for a brisk walk over the lunch hour. Having a more balanced lifestyle has revived Dana’s cheerful disposition and helped her be a more effective worker.
You may want to talk to your family and ask them to do this activity with you. Then you can compare desired life balances to understand how priorities may differ between family members. Are there major discrepancies in how you like to spend your time? Your spouse may want to spend more time on some areas than you do. Be open to negotiating and think of ways to compromise. Work together toward achieving a satisfying balance for all.
Free up time and energy for your priorities
Try these ideas to make more time for your top priorities:
- Say “no” to job tasks outside of work hours that are not essential. Talk to your supervisor if you’re working too much overtime.
- Make time for down time. Stress management experts say taking time to relax is a necessity, not a luxury.
- Get organized with lists and calendars.
- Use your time efficiently. For example, run errands during lunch breaks instead of on your days off.
- Set realistic standards. For example, if both adults in your family work outside the home, aiming for a perfectly clean house all the time creates stress. Agree with household members about the standards you can reasonably maintain. Then make a chore schedule so everyone helps.
- Look at flexible work arrangements such as working part-time, job sharing or working on a contract basis.
- Consider remote work. While you’ll miss the camaraderie with co-workers and productive facetime with supervisors, you’ll also sidestep commute times and the expense of a full work wardrobe. To avoid at-home distractions, explore what you’ll need for a productive home office.
Make an action plan to help you find balance between work and leisure. In the spaces below, write down the activities that are most important to you, then list 2 steps you'll take to find more time for each activity. Finally, put your plan into action.
Balance and rebalance
Big life changes, like a new job or baby, can throw your work-life balance off for a while. That’s normal. But when the balance remains tipped for months, it's a good idea to re-examine your lifestyle choices and reset the balance.