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Does Work-Life Balance Exist? 6 Tips Toward Satisfaction

Matthew Kelly in his book, “Off Balance” suggests that balance is a myth. What people really want is not balance but satisfaction. So how do we do that? Do it all and be satisfied that we are achieving our goals, following our dreams and passions and without getting completely exhausted?

Here are my 6 tips around work-life balance I hope you will find helpful:

1. Delegate work to others.

I have not always been good at this, but I do it. The key for me is to trust that someone else will do the job well. Maybe not the same way as I do, but the job will get done. It makes me much more productive and happy because I have more time to do the things I WANT and need to do. I hired a housekeeper who is still with me 26 years later. She cleans my home, because…. I don’t want to do it. I don’t like it and I would rather pay her to do it so I don’t have to spend my precious weekend time cleaning my house.

If you supervise people in your job, delegate work to them---now. Not all things can be delegated, but look at your to-do list---who else can get these tasks done? Trust them to do the work right and on time and if they don’t, consider whether you have the right people.

2. Your teammate should be doing his part.

You didn’t have children by yourself…. there’s a partner there who should be sharing in half the responsibility. Whether it is taking kids to soccer practice or going to the grocery or doing laundry…. they need to do their share since you are both working. I see so many women not expecting and insisting upon their partners doing half of the workaround child-rearing and maintaining a household. If they are not doing half the work ----they need to, and letting them off the hook---not OK…. unless you don’t want satisfaction.

3. Plan downtime.

I don’t wear a watch on the weekends. Because most of the time I don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time so there’s no need to know what time it is. It helps me get away from the weeklong structure of meetings and conference calls and not wearing a watch allows me to enjoy some unstructured time.

I often come home from the office and actually lie in my bed and…rest for a while. Revolutionary right? I awake very early each workday, have worked hard all day and at the end of the workday, I am tired. I need quiet. It does wonders for my energy and mood for the evening as I transition to dinner and away from the hubbub of the business world.

Weekend time should not be dominated by work. Yes, you can get a couple of hours of work done so that you can relax during the following week. Yet this weekend time should include fun and downtime----seeing a movie, going out to dinner with friends, catching up on sleep, enjoying a hobby---embracing joy! Whatever that means for you.

4. Start your Stop-Doing list.

Yes. There are some things on your to-do list that you need to stop doing. Review this list critically and take things off your list when you consider whether they are really necessary and fit within your life goals and passions.

One of mine was always making sure I caught up on my industry reading on Sunday mornings. Often I bring a stack of industry periodicals and Wall Street Journals to home to read on the weekends. I don’t always get through them. It could take me hours to really thoroughly read this material. I just don’t have the time. Often I only have time to read the headlines and some of the articles, but then I throw them in the recycle. I had to remove this as a “must-do” from my to-do list.

5. Don’t take yourself so seriously; it’s ok to have fun and joy.

We run around like maniacs, doing, doing, and doing. We are connected via phones, emails, texts, and social media in unprecedented ways. It feels like we can never catch up on work. It wasn’t always like this. For those of us on the earth a bit longer…in the old days, we would drive in our cars without cell phones. People sent documents by mail. The pace was so much lower. It was easier to relax and enjoy life because less was demanded of us. Now we are so connected it’s difficult to concentrate and people expect us to always be in touch.

Sometimes to make sure I have a good belly laugh I listen to a stand-up comedian on YouTube. One of my favorites is Brian Regan. I laugh almost the minute I see his face and the way he walks. It helps boost my mood for the day and lighten up.

Find out what you love to do and do it. Turn off the office and phone and enjoy a walk with your spouse. Put a puzzle together with your toddler. Be there, in the present moment and enjoy---laugh. Work will be there when you get into the office tomorrow.

6. Eat healthily and exercise, and get enough sleep.

Yes, I know you hear this all the time, but it is true. I have not always eaten in a healthy way, I’ve not always exercised, nor have I always had enough sleep. Today I do all of these. I eat six times a day and maintain healthy body weight. I exercise 5-6 times a week and I make sure I get at least seven hours of sleep at night. Doing all of these things helps me keep a clear mind, stay in a positive mood and have the energy to do all the things I love to do in life. When our bodies are healthy, our minds work better. There is less anxiety about keeping it all together. While my life is not always perfectly balanced, perhaps there’s too much work at times, there is a rhythm and I’m happy.

Susan's Takeaway

In 1986 I was a new mother and I was overwhelmed. I have always been a pretty organized person, things always in their places, calendar full but manageable. Then along comes my baby girl, Devon. How was I supposed to be a good mother and manage a career and a household---do everything…balance everything? Someone told me at the time something I’ll never forget, “Most things just have to be done…. they don’t have to be done perfectly”. Over 33 years later, I still remember this. I was so used to doing things well and having everything in my life pretty much in order, it was clear after I had my daughter and went back to work, some things were going to fall through the cracks---and they did. Fortunately, my husband and I were a mighty team making sure most things everything came together with our baby, our careers and managing the household. I finally found a good system of getting everything done and not driving myself crazy because not everything was perfect.

Work-life balance is possible. Sometimes it’s too much work….sometimes it’s too much other stuff….but in the end, it all comes together for a happy life. If it doesn’t, you have to make some changes and set boundaries around what works for you. Go on today using these tips as a guide and I hope you work toward balance and satisfaction, one day at a time.

If you found this article helpful and would like to get a regular dose of career and personal improvement tips for women, subscribe to my blog and tune into my Podcast, LeadingShe.

About LeadingShe

A podcast in which executive women who are leaders in their industries, companies, and most importantly...their lives, share inspiring stories about the obstacles they've overcome to succeed in a male-dominated world. Host & Creator: Susan Branscome

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