Intellectually, we understand the benefits of achieving work-life balance. It makes sense to us. The notion of work-life balance, however, is really a myth. It means we operate under the assumption that we can leave work at work or leave home at home. With today’s advances in technology, however, that doesn’t happen.
What we need instead is work-life integration. We need to better integrate our jobs and lives, creating boundaries when necessary. Having those in place allows you to be at home and still manage to do limited amounts of work (or vice versa).
When we are at home and getting text messages and constantly being notified, we sometimes ignore those nudges completely, creating more work for later. On the other hand, sometimes we try to respond when what we really want to do is have a peaceful dinner with our families or spend quality time with our kids.
These few ideas may help you to balance your work and home life a little better.
Turn Off Email Notifications
Shut your notifications off completely. Check your email periodically by going to the application instead.
We all know people who will send an email whenever they have something on their minds, regardless of whether it’s during regular business hours or in the middle of the night. They create an emergency because that becomes yours. It becomes a task you need to do right now. But if you have appropriate boundaries in place, you can tell them you’ll get back to them at 8:00 am or share that you don’t respond to emails after 6:00 pm. Make that known. Define what works and what does not.
Prioritize What’s Most Important
Because many don’t understand how to prioritize, they do whatever project comes first. They tackle a task solely because the person asking them to do it has a job title that demands they do it. In reality, they may be able to do these using the dictation function on your smartphone, for example. Waiting in traffic is much more productive that way. You’re not stuck in the office and you’re using your time far more wisely.
Many who claim they have “so much to do” put things off because they know it will take them 30 minutes to do when they might only have five minutes of free time. Use those five minutes. Breaking a project down into smaller chunks makes it easier to get done later.
Return Calls in Your Car
Familiarize yourself with the dictation settings on your smartphone and take full advantage of that technology. Create an email or text message by thinking about it first, then dictating it using your cell phone. It’s a terrific way to multitask.
Give Yourself Permission
When you are at home and your significant other is taking a shower or your kids are doing homework, give yourself permission for 30 minutes or so to reply to emails. That way, you don’t allow them to pile up and responding doesn’t intrude on quality time with family or friends. Many feel like they may need uninterrupted quiet time to do what is needed, that they need to “get in the zone” to accomplish their to-do list. Nowadays, that is largely gone. Large chunks of uninterrupted time are unlikely.
Decrease Your Distractions
At home, a lot can distract you. Try turning off the radio while you are driving so you can accomplish your calls or dictation. It’s a lot like watching Netflix. You say “I’m just going to watch one episode” and, several hours later, you’ve finished the entire season. Put time into discovering what your distractions and patterns are, and make adjustments where you can.
These recommendations may seem simple, but you must make them tasks you actually want to tackle. It’s like saying that creating an exercise routine is difficult. In theory, it’s not. You can sign up for a gym membership and get a personal trainer. The difficulty lies in doing it.
You want people to respect your boundaries, so be intentional about it. Start following through. Create a routine and begin to create momentum. Have the courage to start applying what you are reading and learning.
When we strive to have more balance and integration in our lives, we have the ability to become more efficient and productive. We tend to have more joy and satisfaction, and we start losing this nagging sense that we are always behind. We start succeeding more in all areas and all aspects of our lives.
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