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The Work-Life Balancing Act

Chris Perry, November 1, 2010

Many professionals encounter times in their careers when they are overwhelmed by the workload on the job and are forced to establish a better work-life balance or face total burnout. Maybe your company has downsized, leaving you and those remaining with more work and responsibilities; maybe you are managing multiple jobs to make ends meet; or maybe you're in a new role that is leaving you completely inundated at the end of each day.

No matter what your situation is, try following some or all of the following steps to establish a better and healthier work-life balance:

  1. Draw the Line: The first step is to literally and figuratively draw the line on when you will be at work and when you will not. If you stay at work all the time and are responding to emails 24/7, your employer will come to expect that from you. You need a life of your own to stay motivated and healthy (physically, emotionally and mentally), and if your employer is not okay with that, then that is a problem in and of itself. If such is the case, you might consider seeking a new opportunity. Also, make sure to draw the line while at work. Take breaks between meetings for a moment or two of downtime so you can come back to the next one recharged.
  2. Make Friends: Make sure that you have a network of friends in the office who you can talk to or eat lunch with for a little downtime during the day. Also, investigate how these people are feeling about things at work. It may not solve the problem to learn that you're not the only one feeling the pressure, but it definitely feels better to know that you're all in the same boat together.
  3. You're Only Human: There are always going to be too many projects to manage, objectives to achieve and follow-ups to follow up on for one sane individual with an appropriate work-life balance to maintain. At the end of the day, you're only one human being and can only do what you can do. Make sure you tell yourself that for your own sanity.
  4. Put Your Health First: This may sound obvious, but few individuals can survive without solid rest over the long term. Make sure you are getting enough sleep to recharge for the next day. Also, make sure you stay hydrated and move around every once in a while during the day. If you can afford time to exercise or take a walk at lunchtime, this can be a great way to start working on your physical well-being, which will naturally come back to support you as you put it to the test each day at work.
  5. Ping Your Managers: Keep your managers aware of what you're doing and accomplishing on a weekly basis so that there is no way to deny you have been working on priority projects. And don't hesitate to let your managers know about your busy situations and ask for a reprioritization of projects each week so that you have their direction on what needs to be worked on first or next.
  6. Stay Organized: As you're monitoring the key priorities each week, stay organized and focused on those priorities and objectives, or you may find yourself in the same place you started. Keep "to-do" lists, set time aside on your calendar and set reminders to keep you on track. Also, make sure you file your emails and paperwork as you get them so they don't pile up in your inbox or on your desk.
  7. Show Appreciation: Every once in a while, send an email or note to someone with whom you work and tell them something you appreciate about them or thank them for their help on a given project. This not only builds stronger relationships with others but also team morale and makes everyone feel better and more motivated to help you in the future (making your job a little easier). And what goes around comes around. You might be surprised at how much others appreciate you.
  8. Learn Something New or Do Something Different: Sometimes, stress and unhappiness at work stems from boredom and having the same routine day after day. If that is the case for you, try doing things differently or seek opportunities to learn something new or join a cross-functional team where you can contribute in a new way. If those are not available to you in your current role, it can never hurt to look at other opportunities. Remember, in the end, you have to take care of yourself, your own career and your own personal fulfillment and satisfaction.

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer and Launchpad.