The fabled notion of a perfect work-life balance permeates countless blogs on the internet, speculating on the right amount of time to spend with family and work. Entire websites are dedicated to espousing this notion, yet there is no perfect balance. For that matter, balance does not just mean spending an equal amount of time working and living. Regulating time like this is ultimately unproductive and unsatisfying; we must account for the hurdles and desires that pop up in day-to-day living.
What we can do, however, is prioritize. We can achieve some semblance of balance, but we will likely never achieve complete harmony in our lives, and that’s perfectly okay. In this vein, there are few things the workhorse in us should keep in mind while pursuing professional, personal, and familial excellence:
Set goals everyday.
Knowing what you want to accomplish on a daily basis allows you to set a standard for productivity. It not only keeps you on track, but lets you know when it’s okay to stop and go home to spend some time with the kids without feeling guilty about leaving the office.
Ultimately, setting daily goals makes you happier and more confident, in addition to teaching time management skills. That said, attempt to avoid multitasking. While this is often unavoidable, it often creates undue stress that could otherwise be avoiding by focusing on one objective at a time.
This applies to both the office and at home. Although it may be tempting to adopt the mantra of, “if you want it done right, do it yourself,” there is simply not enough time in a day. Ask your spouse to pick up the kids from school, or ask your colleagues for some help if it otherwise means you’ll be staying late at the office.
Overextending yourself only brings anxiety and stress, which negatively impacts both your life at home and in the office. Ask for help when you need it; you’ll find that your friends and family will be more than happy to assist.
Prioritization goes hand in hand with avoiding multitasking. Structure your schedule based on what needs to be done when, and then complete those tasks in order of importance. This way, you’ll have a firm understanding of deadlines’ proximity as it relates to your current workload, which will, in turn, enable you to maximize efficiency.
It can be tough to juggle multiple projects. Your priorities should never be completely set in stone, but instead flexible, accounting for any surprises. And, perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to prioritize taking breaks. Overtaxing yourself can lead to subpar work and eventual burnout.
Maintaining balance is hard, but it’s only impossible if you harbor some ill-informed expectation of the perfect balance. Set appropriate, attainable, realistic goals for yourself, and you’ll find yourself being happy and healthier in your work and personal life.