What you usually find when work/life balance is out of kilter is that it’s usually due to a threefold affect, what I like to call The Triple Takedown or TTT for short, and what happens is you start to follow a pattern which goes something like this, you begin to feel pressure, the pressure then has a simultaneous knock on affect that influences the way you feel about yourself in a very negative manner, feeling under pressure and trying to perform your best at work whilst struggling inwardly starts to impact on your energy levels, then because you’re feeling stressed and tired nearly all the time you don’t feel like doing any form of exercise or even capable of doing it (when in reality a little bit of exercise per day will work wonders for you even if it’s only 5 minutes) then because you’re feeling stressed and tired you don’t feel like eating and because you’re missing meals and your blood sugar levels have dropped you grab the nearest packet of crisps or slice of carrot cake because you crave sugar and easiest way to get it is through sugary starch food which satiates you for all an hour and then you start feeling hungry and miserable again, and it all begins to play out on a regular basis as a self-fulfilling prophecy!
Ergo The Triple Takedown!
Work life balance, we all say it and some of the lucky ones have actually managed to achieve it, those fortunate few who have mastered the tricky art of work and life and putting it all into perspective, having not only a social and family life but also the perfect proportion of work, that perfect percentage were work isn’t all consuming and seemingly takes over your entire life and in some not so rare cases it actually does take over their lives! Sometimes to the point that not only are they going into work earlier than anyone else just to get a start on their day miss coffee break, lunch times and then heading for home later than anybody else, rushing down a hastily prepared meal then proceeding to finish off the day’s work then make a start on the following day’s work just to “get ahead!”
Ok I know it might sound a little over the top but I personally know PA’s and EA’s who do actually “survive” like this, spinning plate after countless plate, managing meetings, managing their boss, leading their teams and all day long smiling and trying not to let a plate fall to the floor.You can almost feel the tension and stress building can’t you, never having time to spend with your family and when the weekend comes around you’re thinking about Monday morning already.There has to be a balance otherwise something will give, and unfortunately that something will be you! The organisation will always function and always find a way to function so it really is time to start getting yourself sorted out now before it’s too late.
Although you can’t always see it yourself you do have several options available here. If you’re very unhappy with work and your present job you can always find another job but when you’re so inundated with the tasks at hand you sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees and a way out seems impossible. You can speak to management and either get assistance with your workload and most organisations with good leadership and management will acknowledge this if you bring it to their attention or you can start to take control of your own work life balance.
Often people live at “affect” as opposed to “cause” and for people who live at cause are generally better organised because they take responsibility for their own lives and don’t blame their workloads on others or the organisation, people who live at “affect” blame everyone but themselves for everything that is rotten in their lives and what is going on at work. When you live at “affect” you automatically adopt the “victim” mentality and blame everyone and everything for everything that is wrong with your job and your life and when in this frame of mind, it becomes very difficult to take control and means you’ll have to step out of your own person comfort zone if you wish to create any positive and meaningful change in your circumstances.
People who live at “cause” take full responsibility for everything that is happening in their lives and because of this are able to make life changing differences in their routines and their own lives. Being in control is empowering and fulfilling, not being in control is disempowering and downright frightening. You have to start asking yourself what would you rather be, in control or out of control!
To maintain a healthy balance, you need to manage your space, data, equipment and not least of all…your sanity.
Like most information workers, you can now get work done wherever you are — from the local coffee shop to your child’s dance classes. In this modern day and age most of us welcome the flexibility that modern technology gives us to be able to this. But it isn’t long before Work incursions into private time and space quickly become a source of frustration and friction.
But the incursion of work into your private life (and vice versa) requires you to manage more than your time.
Managing your time and space.
- Set specific times of day for answering email, holding meetings and for doing creative work. Different people are able to focus better at different hours, so do what works and stick to it no matter what, regularity is essential here although there might be the odd day when things happen (as they do) which are simply out of your control. Just focus on the task at hand, get it done then go back to your schedule.
- Research done by Victor Gonzalez and Gloria Mark at the University of California-Irvine found that it typically takes over 20 minutes to resume tasks once they are interrupted, so eliminating distractions will do wonders for productivity.
When you need to be creative at work try and pick times when you are less likely to be interrupted.
- If you have creative work to do, turn off automated alert this includes: Email, Twitter and instant message popups are one of the biggest causes of interruptions.
- When working outside the office try and somewhere where you can still be “part of the crowd.” As an example try to work in a café, library or public park but disconnect with music using a pair of headphones.
- Set aside time during the day to exercise. If you are like most people, sitting still and focusing for long periods of time is difficult, even without digital distractions. Exercise is a great cure for this and it doesn’t need to be intensive or long, sometime just 5 or ten minutes of fairly high intensity is all it takes. Once your heart rate is raised and blood starts to pump around your system, it’s like an instant high as those endorphins start to kick in
- Get your head around the fact that even when you are not “connected,” you can still do valuable work. In fact, thoughtful, creative, contemplative work is often best done offline. So, while the 9-to-5 workday is long gone, it is still important to set aside times when you can disconnect. Try to have at least one day over the weekend where you disconnect completely! Switch off your mobile telephone, laptop etc. You’ll be surprised at how refreshing and empowering something as simple as this actually is, I know as I turn my mobile off every Friday night and don’t turn it back on again till Monday morning, any family or friends I want to contact I usually do by landline and I ask them in turn to only call me on my landline number during these periods.
It does seem a little surreal when you first do it but once you get into it it’s a definite winner!
- Don’t take work or email to bed in anyway shape or form, bed is for sleeping and recharging.It’s been proven that taking mobile devices to bed can cause rapid insomnia as it stimulates brain waves.
Managing your online identity.
- Create a definite difference between your online persona and your business persona and never the twain should meet. My suggestion would be to separate your online identities, as an example, use LinkedIn for business and Facebook for friends and family only.
Managing your data.
- Make sure your company’s smartphone “remote wipe” technology does not remove your personal data without your permission.
- It might sound over simplistic but make sure your personal data, such as contacts, pictures, music and videos are backed up in a safe place.
- It’s also incredibly important to clearly separate where personal and professional data is stored on your device with separate apps for work and personal life and even better if you can manage it have two completely separate devices, one for work one for personal.
- And finally, if everything really is proving too much and there is seemingly no respite SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP.
Everyone needs help from time to time. If your life feels too chaotic to manage and you’re spinning your wheels worrying about it, talk with a professional — such as a counsellor or other mental health provider. If your employer offers an employee assistance program, take advantage of available services.Remember, striking a healthy work-life balance isn’t a one-shot deal. Creating work-life balance is a continuous process as your family, interests and work life change. Periodically examine your priorities — and make changes, if necessary — to make sure you’re keeping on track.