3 Steps Toward Better Work-Life Balance

work-life-balance tips
Written by Beate Chelette

It is easy to fall victim to the demands we put on ourselves and we often struggle with the feeling that our personal lives get into the way of our professional goals.

I have been doing quite a few radio interviews lately and my favorite part of the show is when the phone lines light up with listeners calling in. For me, there’s not much better than making personal connections. Many callers are looking for tips and advice, and some share their own stories of hardships and successes. But there are times when I can tell by only a voice that the person on the other end of the line is desperate for an answer.

I remember one listener in particular who posed a poignant question. She asked, “Why do I feel so unhappy?” Was she dissatisfied because she didn’t find fulfillment in her current job, or was she simply overwhelmed and buckling under the work-life balance pressures of being a working mother?

It is easy to fall victim to the demands we put on ourselves and we often struggle with the feeling that our personal lives get into the way of our professional goals. Our jobs are important and we must advance our careers, but long hours build pressure in other areas of our lives.

We feel rushed in the mornings from the time we wake until we arrive at work, and we stay at work until the last possible minute to accomplish as much we can before we absolutely must leave or will definitely be late picking up the kids. Then, instead of a looking forward to a leisurely evening with our families, we make dinner plans on the way home and start organizing the next day’s work using our hands-free set in the car. In the evening there is homework to check up on, laundry to fold, and a house to clean while we intermittently check work emails. It’s non-stop GO until we crash on our beds only to do it all over again tomorrow. Does this sound familiar?

So, what can we do to prevent personal, professional, or corporate burnout before we begin to question if the path we chose will make us truly happy?

Living in a perpetual state of stress forces our bodies to react instinctively with an adrenalin-induced fight-or-flight response. If we don’t somehow release the built up tension in our bodies, we are susceptible to a variety of symptoms, such as trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and gaining a few extra pounds. More serious ailments like digestive disorders, migraines, and anxiety are also caused by stress. Without a functioning work-life balance including doses of play time, we are bound to collapse under our constant pressures.

We know we need a change and that leads us on a search for the “one thing” that makes us feel overwhelmed and pushes us over the edge. What I learned from my coaching practice is that, sadly, most people conclude the source of their problems is either dissatisfaction with their partners or with their jobs.

Of course, feeling overwhelmed or succumbing to corporate burnout cannot be blamed on any one person or a single issue. Rather, we get to this point because of many little things that accumulate over a long period of time. Repetitive motion, if not done in perfect form, will cause micro traumas to the body. When we apply the same principle to our lives, we see a lack of work-life balance causes harm as well.

The key to preventing burnout and not becoming overwhelmed is to have a realistic approach to balancing all the demands in our lives. While most of us already know this, we don’t bother to stick to the principles of a healthy routine or we postpone it to later.

You’re too busy right now to find your work-life balance, right? Wrong. You’re too busy because you don’t have balance.

Here are three tips you can use today as the first steps toward achieving a better work-life balance:

Structure your day! Before you turn on your computer and crack away on emails, decide what you want to accomplish today and make that your main focus. Give yourself a deadline for when your workday will end. Honor your own decisions.

  • Shut off distractions for 90-minute increments! It’s easy to be sidetracked with distractions. With your main focus set, you know your primary goal for today. Get that out of the way immediately before you do anything else. Focus for ninety minutes on one project, then check your emails, then focus again.
  • Set personal priorities and stick to them! You determine what is most important to you. Take care of yourself, your relationships, and your families. Work-life balance means making time for what matters to you.

Remember, the people we want to stick around the longest should get the most attention from us. Always put people first. Without the ones who love and support you at home, and those who respect and collaborate with you at work–there is no balance. Besides, how boring is happiness when you have nobody with whom to share it?

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

I have come to accept that I am not perfect. I’d like to think I am, and I tried to be for a long time, but now I know there is no such thing. And since I’m not perfect, I can’t expect others to be perfect either. And that… is pretty liberating if you think about it.

What have you learnt to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

I appreciate the nature inside of me that won’t allow me to get beat down by negative events or opinions. I’ve somehow managed to hold my head high even when my life was crumbling around me. It certainly was not always easy and it still irks me when I encounter haters. So there, I’m still working on appreciating WHY I have had to endure so many tests!

What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

I never imagined I could write a book–but I did! Putting the final touches to Happy Woman Happy World was one of the best moments of my life. My book is part if the initial stages of The Women’s Code and there is still much more to come! My goals include supporting women (and men) who are struggling to find their balance and true happiness.

We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?

I recently pulled a muscle in my butt when I spontaneously stopped at Bloomingdale’s and yanked off my cowboy boot so I could try on some cute shoes. I was passing by in a rush to take my laptop to get fixed and didn’t actually have time to shop. I guess I should have stayed focused on what needed to be done! While I don’t know why I seem to have to cramp so much in my day, I sure get a lot done.

“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)  Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

I love my ability to connect with strangers. I love when they feel comfortable telling me their deeply personal stories or emotions. It feels great to be trusted and to be able to help, whether that means giving advice or just lending a shoulder or an ear.

About the author

Beate Chelette

At heart, I’m an entrepreneur and I’m at my best when coming up with ideas for new companies, polishing those ideas, and working with a team to implement them.
In the workplace, I have learned to overcome numerous obstacles including corporate treachery, sabotaging coworkers, and dysfunctional teams. I found ways to succeed in my professional life while my personal life fell apart. These are the experiences that now shape my coaching and consulting programs.
My latest passion is to help others through my programs. When I am not on the road sharing The Women’s Code, I work with private and corporate clients and assist them to build their businesses and train their teams.