Friday, September 24, 2010

Restoring Your Work-Life Balance

When I started my wellness consulting business five years ago, I was surprised that the two most requested corporate wellness training topics were stress management and work-life balance. In August, I wrote about what work-life balance means and why it’s important. Americans who feel out of balance typically do so because they are working too much. Family members and friends complain because they’re late or unavailable, and their health begins to suffer from lack of exercise, sleep, good nutrition, and relaxation. Imbalance often shows up as fatigue, lack of interest, irritability, poor performance, and anxiety. So what can be done?

Begin by gathering data. Keep a log of everything you do for one week. Make a note of how you feel physically and emotionally as you perform each activity. That will help you decide what to continue, do more of, delegate to others, minimize as much as possible, or eliminate altogether. Use all the resources available to you to make these adjustments, including family members, co-workers, and friends, and make creative use of work policies and benefit programs. You will not get to the head of the line any quicker in heaven because you never took a sick day, even when you needed to. As a former HR director I can tell you that benefits that don’t get used don’t get continued, so take advantage of the opportunities you’re granted.

Guard your time carefully. Many middle-aged self-help experts today say that if it isn’t fun, they don’t do it anymore. While this may not always be possible (colonoscopies aren’t fun, but they’re better than cancer treatment), it is a good goal. Resist being connected to everyone all the time. There was a day, not too long ago, when we left the house without a phone. Organize yourself, your time, your kitchen and your workspace. It will give you more control and time to do what’s most important.

Finally, take care of yourself. That’s what this blog is all about. Look through the archives and become a follower. Every post is meant to help you nurture yourself, and that’s a great way to restore your work-life balance.

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