Work/Life Balance. We hear about it constantly, yet how does one actually achieve this seemingly utopian concept?
Julianne Pepitone of Hubspot wrote a great article that featured Nestle’s Chief People Officer, Judy Cascapera, discussing her struggles on the subject and how she overcame it through developing her “balance muscle.”
Today, Cascapera focuses intently on balance-supporting initiatives for the people of her company. That’s because she knows, as well as anyone, what it was like to be out of balance. She finally asked herself the question, “How can I become this effective HR leader someday if I’m not even taking care of myself?”
Cascapera cites four specific areas of focus that will help build the balance muscle, one small “workout” at a time.
In our impatient, instant gratification world, we need to be willing to take it slow on this one. We can’t fix years of bad habits overnight. Focusing on one small change at a time and building on that is a great start.
If you are the kind of person who simply doesn’t make time for yourself, start by scheduling a small task and seeing it through. Is your car way past due for its scheduled oil change but your mechanic doesn’t have weekend hours? Do you need to see your dentist? Is there something else you simply can’t do outside normal work hours that requires taking time away from your daily tasks? If so, pick the most important of those lingering tasks and schedule an appointment right now. Then be sure you keep that appointment.
Once you finally allow yourself to break free the first time, you’ll soon realize that life as you know it went on just fine while you were at the dentist. Now you have two albatrosses off your neck - the dentist appointment, and the belief that you were a prisoner to your job and couldn’t leave.
Now your mind is freer and more clear to better do the things you need to do. Having clarity and lessening the weight on your shoulders can be very satisfying and it’s needed, from time to time, to ensure you’re operating at your maximum capacity. Clearing the clutter of the mind is just as important as doing so on your computer or workstation.
Share the load with your coworkers
Are those things you need to get done really weighing you down? Chances are, your coworkers are feeling similarly regarding many of their own personal challenges. Divide and conquer by partnering with someone in your office to have your back while you run a much needed errand, and be willing to do the same for them when they require the same courtesy.
If you help each other, you can still get the work done while also taking care of those nagging, energy-sucking, tasks that seem to linger far too long.
Plan your “work at home” time wisely
There’s something to be said about leaving work at the office. It can be very freeing, enabling you to lessen your stress and not carry it with you during all your waking hours. However, if taking work home is a requirement of your job, then be diligent about when you work. Make the effort to actually schedule your home work time. This way, you can dedicate a leisurely dinner and bedtime story hour to your family, without interruptions, ensuring that precious time remains quality time.
Understand that time is your most valuable asset
No matter what anyone tells you, time is the most precious commodity you have. All the money in the world doesn’t benefit the dying, and no one has ever been on their deathbed proclaiming, “I sure wish I could have worked more.”
Things happen in life, both good and bad, such as a marriage, graduation or major life achievement. Always remember, these events are significant life moments. Don’t take time away from these major events just because you feel an obligation to finish today’s workload. It will still be there long after that monumental event has passed.
Feeling regret about not taking that exotic, tropical vacation you’ve always dreamed about? Just book the trip. It’ll do you good.
You can’t overestimate the value of time. Treat it like the precious natural resource it is, because once it’s gone, it’s gone. If your kid has an important concert or recital, your elderly uncle is celebrating a milestone birthday, make sure you are there. The work will be there, whether you get it done right now or not, but that recital or birthday may not have an encore performance. Enjoy it all while you can and be sure to prioritize the most important things in life. Only then can you truly achieve a true work/life balance.