6 Ways to Keep Work & Life Demands in Balance
She’s gorgeous, successful, happily married, AND has six kids. You all know which working mom I mean. The historically tenuous balance of dealing with the demands of work and the demands of home is a tricky one — especially for women. It’s too easy to lose sight of the anticipated goals we set for ourselves in the morning and end up disheveled in bed at the end of the night having accomplished only the daily calamities. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The most common game plans for keeping our work and home life in balance include the following six pieces of relationship advice.
Relationship Advice That Will Help You Balance Your Work & Home Life
- Be the boss of your time. For women whose schedules are often dictated by the needs of others, maintaining control over time is a constant challenge. But it’s necessary. Set boundaries establishing clear work and personal times, then enforce it with colleagues and family. Unless it’s an emergency, family must recognize that your attention must be focused on work. The same is true with demands from work. In her book, Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes admitted she now signs off her emails with this signature: “Please note: I will not engage in work emails after 7 pm or on weekends. If I am your boss, may I suggest: Put down the phone.” If you don’t stay firm on setting clear boundaries, your ability to stay productive in both areas will be compromised.
- Set priorities. “It’s the person with the passion who get it done,” said writer, director, and producer Autumn McAlpin. Her award-winning film, Waffle Street, is based on the true rags to riches tale that follows the life of a financier who loses his job on Wall Street but finds redemption and true friendship as a waiter in a 24-hour diner. Her success as a writer relies on disciplined organization and project management. “And, a lot of phone calls,” McAlpin added. Life will deliver a hearty portion of distractions. Enforcing balance between work and personal demands by setting firm priorities will help you stay focused on your goals. “To this day, I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute; Grabbing a power nap to facilitate recovery instead of wasting an hour online,” said Olympic gymnast legend Shannon Miller. “Focus on those things that bring you further to your goal each and every day. Every moment counts.”
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- Focus and avoid multi-tasking. Business philosopher Dr. Stephen R. Covey once said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” As tempting as it is to celebrate the art of multitasking, in truth, we are robbing ourselves of achieving excellence in both arenas. Health contributor and relationship expert Amanda MacMillan wrote, “Research shows that it’s not nearly as efficient as we like to believe, and can even be harmful to our health.”
- Recruit help. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my career as an entrepreneur, it’s good things are rarely accomplished alone,” wrote CorpNet.com CEO Nellie Akalp. “Success often hinges on getting the right advice or support from the right people.” This could mean finding help with household chores or childcare. Or, it could mean emulating an admired mentor. Shonda Rhimes is candid about her dependence on Jenny McCarthy, her family’s nanny. “I am proud to say that I do not do this alone,” Rhimes wrote. Having someone to help you with your duties at home will curb resentment and any potential relationship problems.
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- Don’t forget to play. Having something to look forward to that doesn’t include the demands of work or home keeps you motivated to stay on track. “With vacation days left at the end of last year, the principals of my firm encouraged me to take time off between Christmas and New Year’s; time they took off as well,” wrote Kristine Scotto, director of Strategic Planning. “And when we all arrived back at the start of the year, everyone was fresh, and the vibe of the team was more energetic than I’ve seen in months.” Take a break from the work and home routine. Buy tickets to a concert for date night, spend Saturday morning walking on the beach, visit a temporary exhibit at the museum. Make plans at the beginning of the week, then stick to them.
- Schedule time for exercise. A healthy diet and regular diet is essential for energy. “Even when we’re busy, we make time for the crucial things in life. We eat. We go to the bathroom. We sleep. And yet one of our most crucial needs – exercise – is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up,” wrote Forbes contributor Deborah Jian Lee. Despite her busy schedule, supermodel Cindy Crawford makes fitness a priority every day. “If you stick with it, even if it’s just a small amount, it becomes part of your life,” she said. Crawford incorporates dance and Pilates into her daily schedule, and she has been known to jump on the trampoline with her kids as a way to get in some exercise.
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Life doesn’t guarantee it won’t throw interruptions in your path. But by establishing a routine that includes the relationship advice we’ve provided you: setting boundaries and priorities, focusing on each task, recruiting help, and scheduling time for play and exercise, can offset the imbalance in your work and life schedules and make room for the unexpected joys in your life- both of them. Long live the working mom!
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A previous version of this article appeared on Cupid’s Pulse on Oct. 5, 2016