How to Achieve a Work-Life Balance — Even While Working a Demanding Job
With the ever-growing responsibilities most workers face during hours away from the office, most psychologists and physicians agree that developing a healthy work-life balance is more important than ever. Working too much — or too little — can have deleterious effects on physical and mental health, as well as the health of relationships.
However, when a person boasts a demanding position, like most workers in the health care industry or top-level executives, it can feel impossible to make the scales of career and home read equal.
Fortunately, any worker in any position has the power to craft the life of his or her dreams. Those interested in keeping their demanding jobs and enjoying happy and healthy off-work hours, too, should consider the following tips to achieving the perfect work-life balance.
Before any other step on the road to a healthy work-life balance, individuals must sit and reflect upon the responsibilities in their lives. After compiling a list of necessary duties, individuals must rank these activities in order from most important to least important for health and happiness.
Individuals should also consider goals they have not yet begun but wish to commence in the near future. Perhaps hobbies like cooking or sailing has always been a dream, or maybe starting a family is an unquenchable desire in a hardworking individual. These activities take time away from current duties at one’s demanding position, but the time away from work will pay off in the form of a healthier and happier outlook.
This may be one of the more difficult and heartbreaking tasks of achieving a healthy work-life balance, but it is also the most necessary. Those who hold demanding positions will likely instinctively place their careers above other responsibilities, like loved ones. However, if one’s ultimate goal is to reach the highest position on the career track, job-related duties must come first. For example, a nurse who endeavors to one day become chief nursing officer should prioritize advanced nursing education above recreational sports.
Focus on Single Tasks
While the last years of the 20th century were all about doing more with one’s time, research now shows that multitasking is not only extremely inefficient, but it harms one’s sense of balance, as well. Individuals must commit themselves wholly — mind and body — to one task at a time, and this counts for work as well as life.
In the office (or hospital, station, etc.) individuals should avoid attempting to plan activities for the weekend, just as at home, they should avoid worrying about that unfinished work project with the approaching deadline. This is especially important for those who hold demanding positions, as their time outside work is extremely limited and must be a time devoted to life.
Even if a career is at the top of one’s list of priorities, the list should still contain at least a handful of activities whose purpose is simple pleasure. Though these tasks may be low on the list, one absolutely must take time each week (if not each day) to enjoy games and hobbies that don’t contribute to career advancement of any kind. Whether one’s chosen activity is golf with a friend or quiet meditation, it is crucial that individuals with demanding jobs find undemanding fun ritually throughout the week.
This step is certainly more easily said than done. However, spending a few minutes on one’s calendar blocking out an hour every week (if not every day) for pleasure maintenance should ensure space in even the most hectic of schedules, especially when it is combined with the following step.
Respect Your Plans
One must imagine that one’s calendar is carved in stone. Demanding careers often ask workers to neglect personal appointments in favor of responsibilities at work, but by dropping everything to cater to a boss’ needs, individuals are creating an imbalance in the delicate system of work and life. All plans should be treated as sacred; it is just as harmful to renege on pleasure activities as it is to ditch work engagements.
In many ways, this ethos is beneficial for those in demanding positions, as the newfound inflexibility of their schedules creates less stress. Flakiness is a plague that is consuming the country, but individuals — especially busy ones — have the power to stop it in its tracks.
After prioritizing responsibilities, anyone should be able to create structure and balance in the most eventful lives. By striving for a work-life balance, individuals are committing to plans that will make them healthy and happy for the long term.
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