Do you find yourself staying up later than you should after a long workday, just to squeeze in some extra “me time,” social media, or just to catch up on email that has tripled since you last checked? Do you ever feel like you are being consumed by meetings, emails, and your never-ending “to-do” list? Do you wish you could carve out more time in your days for you, yet don’t know how?
The term “work-life balance” in-and-of-itself causes a lot of stress. It is defined as “a situation in which one divides or balances one’s time between work and activities outside of work.” (Dictionary.com)
Many of us try to pack as much as we can on one side (personal life) to balance out the other side (work-life). The problem with this is it is often completely unrealistic to strive for equal parts “work” and “play.”
We all have 24 hours in a day. Ideally, 7-8 of those hours are spent sleeping. Many of us spend another 8 (or more) working. This leaves us with 8 hours to do “everything else.” In a perfect world, we would spend those 8 hours doing whatever we want, filling our self-care bucket! Instead, we spend it grocery shopping, prepping and cooking meals, driving kids to school and other activities, caring for friends and family, exercising (click HERE for our AW limited-time special offer), running errands, taking care of pets, cleaning, managing finances, and the list goes on and on. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for this perfect “balance” that we seemingly aim to achieve.
I have coached dozens of Concierge and Corporate clients on this concept. I believe it is not the lack of balance that causes the most stress. It is our definition of “work-life balance” which causes us to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves and tells us we need to work harder to find this equilibrium we all crave. Instead of looking at “work” and “life” as two separate pieces, we must integrate work and play and redefine balance.
Here are my top 3 strategies to integrate work and play into your daily life:
- Consider a shift of language – and redefine “work-life balance” as an integration or alignment of two important parts of your life.
- Set time goals of addressing personal life/family matters during the workday. For example, for every 3 hours of work, 15 minutes (or a time of day) can be dedicated to personal activities.
- Add self-care and personal choices in that keep you thriving and productive at work yet also address your personal needs.
- Take 5 minutes to catch up on a personal hobby like gardening, soccer, whatever blog
- Add purposeful buffers (of 2, 5, 10 minutes) between meetings, email, calls, etc.
- Plan and schedule your workouts/exercise for the week or the trail for your adventure walk at lunchtime
- Call your mom, dad, sibling, uncle, friend
- Remind yourself to consciously breathe either with a timer or a notification every 30 minutes
- Find a delicious, nourishing, and quick recipe for the weekend with guests
- Meditate for 15 seconds every trip to the restroom
- Take your meeting outside
We have several tools and strategies we teach corporate clients since COVID-19. We recognize our work lives and routines have had many differences, such as more virtual meeting time and fewer natural breaks, like commutes and traffic.
We also recognize anxieties are heightened over any possible return to work and have created a whole new program just for those organizations sensing the tension. Learn more here.
Here are some examples of how to improve your “work-life balance” during COVID-19:
- Because we are not getting built-in breaks from our commute,
- Schedule 15–30-minute breaks from the screen
- Take a few stretches with others in the household
- Check-in on each other’s wellness at the beginning of team calls
- Change your work environment occasionally (try the deck, screened-in porch, bedroom, etc. aiming to create a space that feels comfortable)
- Create space/transition separating work and personal mode
- i.e., Consider changing an article of clothing at the end of the workday
- i.e., Change water bottles, screen saver, etc. just to transition to personal and family time