Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tips to Balance Your Personal & Professional Life

By Karilyn Van Oosten

Balancing your professional and personal life can be a challenge in today's demanding workplace. With the recession pushing many professionals to work harder than ever and technology enabling work around the clock, achieving work-life balance is more important - and elusive - than ever.

In the current economic environment, work-life balance now ranks as one of the most important workplace attributes - second only to compensation, according to a recent poll of more than 50,000 global workers. If you crave a better work-life balance, here are a few ways to balance the juggling act between a career and personal life.

Tip #1, Schedule Time
I like to schedule appointments to meet with "friends" of mine that are actually time for me to decompress. It helps to physically block out that time on my calendar to force myself away from either work or life, depending on what's overbearing at the moment. I try not to cancel these unless it's really an emergency.

Tip #2, Forget balance. Think synergy
Too much emphasis is being placed on parceling out bits of time to find the elusive balance. Examine all of your life's activities and relationships and identify those that energize you and those that deplete you. How aligned is your work-life with who you are: values, passions, strengths, personality. How are you forging meaningful relationships with like-minded individuals that will help you reach your goals? Invest your energies first on figuring this out - identifying a common thread of meaning between both work and life spheres. Then you can allocate time more meaningfully.

Tip #3, Be Realistic and Find What Works for You
Juggling work, life, family is definitely harder than I expected. I'd always been a driven person able to accomplish almost anything I set my mind to... but parenting has been humbling!! And wonderful, awe-inspiring, and the most amazing experience ever, but HARD. It took me awhile to learn that I needed to adjust my expectations to be more realistic, such as changing the # of items on my daily "To Do" list from 10 to maybe 2! Another big part of being realistic for me was changing my job situation. I started looking for jobs that would be more flexible (telecommuting, flextime, part-time) and got frustrated at how difficult it was to find anything decent. So, I ended up starting my own site, FlexJobs.com, to help people like me looking for more legitimate, online jobs. It's been hard, but I work from home, flexible hours, and I love it! It helps me to achieve a MUCH better work-life balance than if I worked outside of the house, and I love what I'm doing, which is important to me.

Tip #4. Draw a line between home and work
If you're rushed and overloaded, what can happen - and it's very common - is that while you're at work, you worry about things at home and when you're at home, you're preoccupied with work. Crazy, isn't it?

Download the things on your mind before you leave work (or home). Write a note in your diary, on your PC, on your Blackberry or on a piece of paper and list the things you need to do when you come back. Keep your mind focused on the fact that this is the end of that activity, workday or tasks at home. Shut the diary, turn off your PC, save your message and LEAVE IT!

About the Author:Karilyn is the Director of Strategic Alliances at Chamberlain College of Nursing. She has a strong background in business development with more than 10 years of experience. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration, as well as, Spanish, a masters in language and culture and is a candidate for her Doctorate of Psychology.

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