Work can be demanding. Your company and co-workers rely on you to show up for work each day to complete your assigned duties and sometimes the expectation extends far beyond a regular 40-hour work week. The constant connectivity of smartphones, as well as the drive to get ahead, may compound the excessive dedication to work hours.
If you've found your workday stretching beyond eight hours, you're not alone. In fact, one Gallup poll found that full-time workers in the U.S. are working an average of 47 hours per week, and 18% work more than 60 hours each week. Work-life balance has been a hot-button issue for the past several years, and for good reason. These longer workdays can lead to increased stress, strained family relationships, and even lower productivity at work. Here are several tips to help you achieve a better balance between your work obligations and your personal life.
Set Some Goals
When our lives are out of balance, it's often the case that we are living in a reactionary mode. What this means is that choices are less deliberate and time is often "stolen" by tasks that we'd rather not participate in at all. Instead, set some goals and priorities for your time. When an activity is placed in front of you that doesn't conform to your goals, it's time to decline in favor of something that does.
Start With Small Changes
Making monumental changes overnight is rarely a recipe for success. We've all seen what happens with fad diets or rigorous exercise programs. They're a shock to the system, and we go back to what's familiar in short order. Instead, make some gradual changes to your lifestyle over time. If you're currently working 60 hours per week, cut that down to 55 and increase your family dinners by one night each week.
Focus on Efficiencies
We all have some time-wasting activities in our lives that could be eliminated. If staring out the window and drinking a cup of coffee for 15 minutes each morning brings you great joy, hold onto that one but it probably is not one to do at work! But ditch the ones that aren't serving your best interests, such as mindless social media surfing and checking emails 20 times per day. If you find that you waste time at work, consider using a productivity program such as Freedom or RescueTime.
Unplug at Home
Multitasking is a debunked myth. If you think that you can spend quality time with family or friends and respond to work emails at the same time, you're mistaken. You'll only be able to achieve true balance if you find a way to compartmentalize the two, which often involves avoiding or limiting your smartphone useage when you're away from work.
Forget About Perfectionism
Few people have work-life balance down perfectly. Putting too much pressure on yourself will only compound the stress to "get it right." As long as you are making an effort to find a healthy balance, you're on the right track. Taking small steps each week or each month to spend more time on things that you enjoy and appreciating your loved ones is what matters the most.
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