How to Maintain Work Life Balance When You're Growing Your Career
by Yvette McKenzie
Posted: June 04, 2015
It can be easy to get caught in a cycle of ‘all work and no play’ when you’re focused on achieving your career goals.
Whether you’re working hard to get ahead, provide for your family, or land a promotion, you can find yourself getting to the office early, staying back late and even coming into the office on weekends.
However, as you can imagine, this kind of approach can have a detrimental effect on your wellbeing in the long run.
Lost sleep, rising stress levels and frazzled friendships are all signs you need to reboot your priorities. Overworking can also lead to poor concentration, flagging memory, and muscle tension, while a lack of quality human interaction can lead to anxiety and moodiness. If you recognise some of these side effects, it might be time to revaluate how you’re spending your time.
Although it might not always feel like it, it really is possible to strike a balance between productivity and personal wellbeing. Follow our Open Colleges guide to achieving your career dreams with focus while still leading a life you love.
1. Follow the 80/20 rule
Also known as the Pareto Principle, The premise here is that 20% of your actions lead to 80% of your results – and inversely, 80% of your actions only lead to 20% of your results. So it's time to focus on what matters. Sit down and identify which 2-3 tasks will make the biggest difference to your day. Then put most of your effort into completing those tasks.
2. Eat that frog
Another popular principle (developed by success author Brian Tracey), ‘eat that frog’ means that do the hardest thing on your to do list first thing in the morning. Now I know what you’re thinking – every one of your activities is important. However, there is always one that takes up the most mental energy. Do it first and it will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
3. Schedule work-free zones
This is exactly as it sounds – time when you commit to not thinking about work at all. You can be focused on anything else – the kids, your partner, an awesome book or a knitting project. Turn off your phone and email notifications and get lost in the pleasures of your life.
4. Get healthy
Learning to manage stress, meditating, eating healthy and exercising are all wonderful habits that will give you stamina, joy and energy. Needless to say, cutting out smoking, excessive drinking and caffeine will also help you sleep better, breathe easier and improve your moods. Good health is the secret weapon you need to make your way in the world – so make it a priority.
5. Ask for help
For a balanced life, it’s important to surround yourself with a good team. Make sure you communicate your expectations to everyone in the team. Do you need your spouse or family member to help you with meal preparation this week? Can you ask a friend to look after the kids for two evenings? Learning to delegate will free up your life to focus on the priorities that really matter – remember your 20% list. Similarly, if your boss or colleagues are placing excessive demands on your that you’re struggling to meet, arrange a meeting and ask for the workload to be distributed at a more even pace. You will always be able to work something out – and if you don't ask you don't get.
Getting ahead while still having time to yourself is possible. Prioritising what matters most to you, getting the help you need and putting yourself first will lead to a calmer, better quality of life for you and those around you. It's time to give it a go.
Check out Open Colleges' 8 Steps to a Better Work-Life Balance.
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