Our personal and professional lives often compete for the same fixed amount of awake time. Friends and family (and sleep too!) often get the short end of the stick when these calendars collide. Most folks long for a better work-life balance.

Work-life balance is a common cry for the overworked and overwhelmed employee. Many organizations recognize that addressing this plea will attract and retain healthier, happier employees. Yet it’s ultimately up to the employee to decide what “balance” really means to them and how to take action to improve this work-life balance.

Perfect balance will never exist. Chasing after it only contributes to the annoyance and discontent that we feel. Instead, it’s often the minor, conscious choices we make each day that will lead to less stress and more success.

Before you can begin to strive for more balance, you need to identify and prioritize what’s most important to you. Is it your career, family, home, relationships, finances, health, spirituality, personal development, fun…what?

Then, consider how the following easy and smart work-life balance strategies can help you manage your mindset, energy and time in order to support your idea of “balance.”

Get “On Purpose”

    Why are you here, and how does your work and life support that? What are you most passionate about? When you know your life purpose, you’ll increase your confidence, feel more fulfilled, and make better decisions about where to spend your precious time and energy.

    Define your life purpose by considering what motivates you, what you value, and what you can do with your natural gifts. Write your life purpose statement down, post it somewhere that you’ll see every day, and refer to it often for guidance.

Create the Space

    Clutter distracts and confuses us. It drains our energy and keeps us from doing what matters most. While we often think of physical clutter, like a messy office or an overstuffed closet, there’s also technical clutter, like your over-reliance on your cell phone and too much time on the Internet, as well as emotional clutter, like regrets and toxic people in your life.

    Make a list of all your ongoing commitments and decide what is truly important and what can go. By cleaning out the clutter of unnecessary obligations, you’ll think more clearly, have more energy, and be more open to helpful opportunities, people and ideas.

Manage Your Energy

    Even more important than time management is how you manage your energy. Making empowering changes and maintaining healthy habits takes a commitment. Start with the basics, including eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, being physically active, and getting enough sleep. Then go deeper by choosing to associate with people who live healthy and balanced lives, enjoying a hobby, and finding time to relax and recharge when you need it.

Talk to Yourself

    Studies show that we speak to ourselves up to 10,000 times a day, and 80 percent of that self-talk tends to be negative. That’s because we’re human and are programmed to protect ourselves by anticipating worst-case scenarios. Affirmations or positive self-talk counter those negative messages with empowering ones. Start the day by saying: “I have more than enough time and energy to get the important things done today.” A simple affirmation like this will make you more calm and confident and prompt you to delegate. By the end of the day, the important tasks will get done.

Stay Present

    Because our brains are sequential processors, we lose time and make more mistakes when we multitask. Staying present is about enjoying what is happening right now, instead of regretting the past or worrying about the future. By being more mindful, you can reduce stress, capitalize on opportunities that might have eluded you, and increase your satisfaction with work and life.

Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

    What you focus on expands, and what you appreciate appreciates. That’s why it’s so important to cultivate that attitude of gratitude.

    Write your thoughts in a gratitude journal a few nights a week. Make a brief list of what you are grateful for that day and include at least one unique entry to increase your awareness. This simple practice will increase your positivity and put your challenges in perspective.

Even one of these strategies can greatly improve your work-life balance and, when used together, they complement each other. Start with the one idea that resonates the most with you, and then gradually add other ideas until they all become wonderful habits that support your success.

(written by: wc)

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