Tips for Better Life/Work Balance
You actually don’t have to do it all ~ Danielle LaPorte
So last weekend I had the opportunity to do one of the keynote talks at the California Business Educators Association conference in Anaheim. The topic for the conference was the Walt Disney quote, “if you can dream it, you can do it.” So for the conference I thought it would be good to talk about life work balance and how doing a better job of balance can help you live a happier life.
I started by talking about the importance of happiness and balance and related my own journey, also known as the hard way. I related when I was working at Hartnell College how I’d taken on way more than any sane person should have. I was working the equivalent of three full-time jobs at the time and putting in over 80 hours a week. It was this period of time that got me thinking about how to create better balance in my life.
Along with doing some standard things to improve my life/work balance it was also this period of time that started me thinking about the current plan of action I employ of taking major time off every five years.
Starting at Hartnell I set up a series of events to celebrate my 40th birthday in 2004. Then in 2009 to celebrate turning 45 I cycled in Ireland, hiked in Scotland, spent time in Bryce Canyon National Park and the grand finale a 22 hike in the high passes of the Himalayas. As regular readers of this blog know, for my 50th birthday I decided to go bigger! So I hiked a 1000 miles on the Appalachian Trail, swam with Manta Rays and Whale Sharks and finally spent a week photographing Polar Bears in the Arctic. I also briefly talked about positivity and the three questions that I developed for my Appalachian Trail hike that helped me focus on positivity.
I realize most people haven’t gotten to a point where they can do these type of things in their life, at least not yet! So one of the things I do when I do a talk like this is to make sure I give the audience something they can implement immediately after going home. So the following list are the things I recommended they implement to get more life/work balance.
Tips for increasing life/work balance
Find something your passionate about – It’s important to identify those things we truly enjoy. How do you do that? Focus on things that make you lose track of time, one of those for me is photography.
No working 7 days in a row – Always make sure that one day a week you don’t work. The reason is that there is no 7 days in a row, if you work 7 you automatically add the next week and end up doing 12. This is the quickest way to stress and burn out.
Claim your space – Personally, I do not work at home. This means I might have to stay in the office til 10 at night but it keeps my home separate from the stresses of work and truly makes my home a sanctuary. I get that this doesn’t work for most people and if you have a family you will have to work at home. However, claim your space at home, only work in your office or one space in one room. Don’t let your work bleed into family time or to the family dinner table. I understand that 3 year-olds obey no rules or barriers so if you’re dealing with toddlers, do the best you can.
Take mental health days – We all have sick days, note they are not called physically sick days. Don’t be afraid from time to time to just call in for a day and take a break. It’s just as important to rest and keep your mental health in good condition as it is for your body.
Take your vacation days – This drives me nuts, how is it that people can max out their vacation time and HAVE to take a day off to keep form losing time. It’s so important to give yourself a break, do something you love or just do nothing at all for a day or a week. Take your vacation days my friends.
Take real vacations – Finally, take REAL vacations. What do I mean by that? Don’t take that vacation that leaves you saying you need a vacation from your vacation when you get back home. A real vacation is one where you can completely get out of your life for at least a couple of days. This means a vacation where you cut the electronic leash that is your cell phone and where you do some that so engrosses you that you can leave your everyday life behind, it’s the only true rest you’ll ever really get. Also, if you leave town, don’t come back on Sunday and go to work on Monday. Give yourself a buffer day or two between vacation and returning to work.
Now I realize some of you out there have the perfect job. One that does not feel like work, a job where you wake up in the morning and can’t wait to go to do what other people feel like is a chore. If that’s you, fantastic my friend but for the rest of us these tips can help us gain a bit of balance and have happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane