Work-life balance is an idea that’s getting a lot of attention lately. It’s supposed to be a sign of health and good judgment, a new package for the old concept of “having it all.”
The idea of work-life balance is a great one: By being intentional and firm about boundaries, you can carve out protected time for work, family, friends, and for yourself. It is important to learn when to say, “Yes” and when to say, “No.”
But like many other things, it’s much more difficult in practice than in theory. When you have a new job, a demanding boss, the threat of layoffs at work or even a special situation like a colleague’s illness, saying no gets a lot more complicated. We’ve all seen that person who’s out the door promptly at 5 every day, leaving everyone else behind to deal with the stress and the deadlines. Nobody wants to be that person.
So how can you balance the boundaries? Here are some ideas:
- Look at the big picture. Putting in late hours at work during a crunch week gets a lot easier when you know you have a vacation coming up in a couple of months. And being absent from work for a child’s illness isn’t likely to be cause for resentment if your co-workers know you’re a team player who is always willing to pitch in with whatever you’ve got. Remember that some days and weeks will seem unbalanced, so take time to look at the breakdown in terms of months or even an entire year.
- Compromise. Maybe you can come in to work for a couple of hours really early on Saturday morning but still have most of your day free for family. Or, if you’re assigned an unexpected project, maybe you can divide it with another colleague whose abilities sync well with yours. Try to find solutions that split the difference instead of throwing yourself entirely into one way of getting things done. (Read More)
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