August Question of the Month: Work-Life Balance
Every month, Design Pickle emails their community a question about marketing, technology, or business trends using the one-click survey tool YesInsights. Since August is back-to-school and a typically high-stress time for working parents, the August Question of the Month wanted to know:
Yikes! Less than 15% of those surveyed report to maintaining a happy, healthy work-life balance. This means that 85% of people do not maintain a healthy balance between work and life.
46% of those who admit to not maintaining balance also admit to needing some help – or at least a day off! These statistics are a desperate cry for a change in motivation, habits, and daily routine. Grab your mental yoga mat; it’s me for a lesson in balance.
Best Practices for Achieving Work-Life Balance
Best Practice #1: Meditate
There are thousands of thoughts that race through your mind each day; give your brain a break! Meditation is the practice of mindfulness or the mental focus on the present moment without judgment. If you can learn to focus on the present moment and let go of wondering, speculating, and over-thinking, you’ll be better equipped to respond to any stressful situation calmly and proactively.
By being mindful and aware of the present moment, you will be able to fully engage in whatever subsect of your life you are currently trying to engage in. Mindlessly checking emails at a birthday party or scheduling soccer practice pick-up times during a conference call are surefire ways to “do” a lot but actually get nothing done.
One of the easiest ways to start practicing mindfulness is by listening to a guided meditation. Apps like Headspace, Buddhify, and Smiling Mind are a great way to dive into the world of meditation without stepping too far out of your comfort zone. Download the app and choose a practice, find a quiet space to sit, close your eyes, and breath! Remain still for the duration of your meditation. The more you practice, the more reachable total stillness will become.
Reap the most benefit of meditation by scheduling a 5-minute meditative reset between work and home activities. Listen to a guided practice at home before heading to work, in your office before heading home, and any other me during the day that you feel like you need to “switch gears” from one role to the next. Clear your mind and jump into your next role ready to excel.
If the thought of thinking about nothing makes you start to sweat, don’t worry – there are other options for practicing mindfulness!
A great form of moving meditation is yoga. Focusing on your breathing while moving and stretching helps to let go of all thoughts outside of what is happening on your mat. Bonus: you’ll work up a sweat and gain some major health benefits, too!
If nothing else, the best way to stay mindful and present in the moment is to simply breathe, notice, and let go. When you feel yourself start to tense up, take a deep breath. Notice the tense parts of your physical body – maybe your hands are balled into fists, your shoulders are pinching up by your ears, or you are firmly pressing your lips together – and start to let go of these sensations. Relaxing your muscles is the first step to relaxing your mind and bringing you back to the present moment.
Best Practice #2: Automate
“Whew! Today seemed like I had too much time to get things done” – said nobody ever.
Your time is valuable. For business professionals, your time is money. Don’t waste time that could be spent advancing your career or nourishing relationships with friends and family by spending time on things you don’t have to be spending time on.
Do you still deposit checks in person? Automate with direct deposit. Do you pay bills with a check, or log in to a website to pay a monthly due? Automate with an online bill pay service that schedules payments to come directly from your account without having to log on to submit the payment. Check your bank or financial institution to see if they have an automated bill pay system in place that you aren’t utilizing yet.
How often do you grocery shop? You can even automate getting groceries with services like Amazon Subscription. Simply decide what groceries items you need and set your subscription to as short or long between deliveries as you’d typically re-up. Re-stock on your favorite cereals, protein bars, toilet paper, toothpaste, and everything else on your list without leaving your house (or office, where you probably stayed late…).
The benefits of subscription-based services extend far beyond delivery of daily non-perishables. Services like StitchFix can even automate your clothes shopping (and save the headache of a trip to the mall!) by sending you a few hand-picked outfits each month by mail. If you love the choices, simply keep them and your card on file will be charged. If you don’t, put the items you don’t want back in the box, slap on a return label, and send it back – no cost to you.
We no longer live in a world that rewards those who work harder. With the advances in technology (i.e. vacuuming robots, programmable coffee makers, automated email workflows, chatbots…), you have to #WorkSmarter – not harder – to get more done. Find a way to gets things done with less effort, even if it may cost a bit more. Your time is well worth the investment!
Best Practice #3: Communicate
The best way to maintain a healthy work-life balance is to simply communicate. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, schedule some time to chat with a life coach or counselor; you may feel better working through your frustrations with an unbiased, third-party perspective.
If you’re feeling bogged down with your workload and haven’t spent much me with your friends and family, communicate with your employer that it may be time for a mental health day. Schedule a day of your typical workweek to turn your phone off, catch up on home life, and spend time relaxing with those you’ve been unintentionally neglecting. Use a sick day if you must, because taking time to disconnect from your colleagues will benefit your sanity as much as it will benefit your relationships with those people.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but in this case, absence might just make the heart grow more tolerable – and more patient!
Communicate when you won’t be available for your family or co-workers. Create boundaries! Block out time on your calendar to respond to emails and engage in social media without distractions, then log off or close out of all apps when your time block is up. Respect the people you’re around by giving them your undivided, uninterrupted attention. Emails can wait a day; memories can’t.
Sometimes we get so caught up in communication with everybody else that we forget to turn inward and listen to ourselves! Journaling is a great way to let your mind speak freely; it’s also helpful to physically write down ideas because those typically get put into action way sooner than free-floating thoughts. If you’re unsure of how to start journaling, download the 5-Minute Journal app and start by writing down just a few thoughts for a few minutes each day.
Mediate, automate, and communicate. Do these things, and you will be well on your way to happy, healthy, balanced life!
S ll nervous about making a change? Check out what’s working for our community of progressive business professionals just like you from these notable comments: