Work Life Balance. We’ve all seen and heard the phrase a million times. It’s a coveted “status” by both old and young alike. If you’ve been fighting the good fight between work and life, here are a few tips that have been shared with me to [hopefully] help bring your battle to a truce.
Take the time to map out everything that needs to get done and everything you want to get done. Use a calendar, virtual or paper, to stay organized. I personally use both options— paper because writing helps me remember and digital because alerts are a true blessing. Planning out your week can help eliminate time wasters, keep you on track for weekly goals, and help give you more control over where you spend your time. Pro tip: Sometimes, tedious day-to-day tasks can get in the way of the results we’re actually working towards. Determine the end goal for the week and shape your plan accordingly in order to achieve it.
The requirement for being good at your job, does not equate to being accessible at all hours of the day. If you’re accepting meetings during times you have set aside for other work, you will likely find yourself stealing time from your personal life in order to finish work tasks from the day. Don’t be afraid to offer potential appointment times that you’ve specifically set aside for open flexibility. Try to keep work at the office while you’re spending quality time with friends, family, or even just yourself. Of course, there are exceptions to be made, but setting general parameters for yourself can definitely help.
Set aside time in your day or week to take a moment for yourself. Sometimes when you take a step back and breathe a little, the tasks ahead don’t seem as daunting. It can also be extremely beneficial for maintaining your peace of mind. For instance, a friend of mine makes a point to never take lunch in their office space because it allows them to come back refreshed and/or take care of personal things. Personal time looks different for everyone, so whatever that is for you, make sure it happens.
Find a good method that works for you when it comes to keeping your tasks and appointments on track for professional and personal life. Keeping a calendar is one of the easist ways to do this. Some people have found that setting start and end times for tasks helps to keep them focused and away from distractions. You can also immediately identify conflicts and set notifications.
If living abroad in Europe has taught me one thing, it’s that you can be successful in your role and still take vacation. It’s customary here to take two weeks at a time! So, I’ve learned, the two are not mutually exclusive. Giving yourself time to unplug and enjoy life can make a big difference in both your professional and personal life. Don’t let your vacation time go unused. Whether you’re taking a Friday off for a long weekend staycation or traveling somewhere new, vacation is a must.
I know many people that aim to keep work and life separate, but going to work just to work can add to the burden. It’s possible to allow the two to coexist. Having one or two people at work that you can converse with about non work related tasks can be just what you need to give you that temporary escape during the day.
The fact is, work affects life and life affects work. Maybe, Jeff Bezos is right. We should aim for a state of harmony instead of pitting one against the other because there doesn’t have to be a trade-off. Every person’s idea of balance or harmony will depend on their priorities and the type of work they do. Everyone’s jobs have different requirements. Find out what methods work for you. And, if you have, we’d love to hear from you! If you’ve identified some useful tips over the years, share them with us at @mycarolinayac.
Nicholette Macklin is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Carolina and serves on the Young Alumni Council. She currently lives abroad in Munich, Germany and works as an International Business Development Manager for the South Carolina Department of Commerce.