At the start of the year, resolutions are drawn up and promises are made to better ourselves, both personally and professionally.
Unfortunately, more often than not, it can feel like a delicate juggling act just to find the right balance of work and life, and you end up stuck in the same rut yet again.
You would be surprised how the following five-step process can overhaul your perception about that ever-elusive work/life balance, and improve your wellbeing all around for this year:
1 Identify what is and isn’t working
It might sound easy, but it can be difficult to identify the core issues. We often don’t take the time to stop and reflect, especially when things are hectic.
Sometimes one key problem will trigger other challenges or frustrations, creating the sense that nothing is working right or that the problems are too complex to fix without making dramatic change.
As you think about what works well and what doesn’t, consider four areas:
Consider whether and when you would prefer stronger boundaries and in what situations you would do better if you could blur the lines. Would it be more effective to work only at the office? Could you be more effective if you scheduled larger blocks of time to focus on one thing or the other?
Are you paying attention to how you spend your time, being realistic about what you can accomplish, and making conscious choices to take care of what is most important?
Unrealistic expectations create unnecessary stress. Do you need to adjust expectations you have of yourself or have a conversation about the expectations others have of you?
Not having enough time to switch from one role to another can leave you feeling rushed or frustrated or ineffective. Do you need to change how you move into or out of a role to make the transition more smoothly?
2 Learn boundary management techniques
Good ideas are out there. Read articles about how to address the issues frustrating to you. Talk to others and find out what works for them (bearing in mind that different tactics work for different people).
Challenge yourself to change something you assume you can’t. It can be as simple as changing the way you use technology (do you really have to respond to every message, right away?) or delegate a task that is “yours” (at home or at work).
Once you decide on some changes you would like to make, communicate your preferences and ideas to key people. Look for solutions that benefit others as well as yourself.
For example, look for someone at work who would benefit from taking on a task that you would like to get off your plate. Be open to ideas for creating solutions together.
3 Envision a better life
There will be benefits and trade-offs with any approach to managing your work and life. You can weather the stressful times more successfully if you have a picture of what you are striving for and why.
When you are clear on your larger goals and priorities, it helps you focus on what matters most. It also helps you put setbacks and bad days in context.
4 Get support
Everyone needs support to achieve goals, especially those as complicated as work and family goals.
The support can come from work or home. Your support system can help in different ways.
Some people can help you figure out how to best manage your time and energy, agree to take some tasks off your plate or provide encouragement or empathy as you try to adjust your work/life patterns.
It also helps to have a coach or mentor who can help you navigate the options at work. Do not forget to improve your physical health as it increases energy and resilience.
Keep close to your support network as they make dealing with a crisis much more bearable.
5 Track your progress
Change requires focus and commitment. Make a plan and track your progress. This keeps you accountable to yourself and your work/life stakeholders. It allows you to see what is working and where the pitfalls lie.
With this information, you will have a better handle on what else you can do to find greater productivity and satisfaction in your various life roles.
Article by Roland Smith, vice-president and managing director for the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). It is a top-ranked, global provider of executive education. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.apac.ccl.org