How many times have you felt you were being pulled in too many directions? In today’s tech-infused world it has become commonplace to see individuals working on their cellphones, tablets, and laptops while at airports, restaurants, libraries and even at the park. This leaves very little time for family, friends, spirituality, personal growth, self-care, and other personal activities. In addition, many of you have to squeeze military obligations into a schedule that is already filled to the brim. According to Susan Heathfield, Human Resources, “work-life balance is a concept that describes the ideal of splitting one's time and energy between work and other important aspects of life”.
o Feeling overwhelmed with having too much to do
o Frequently tired and getting inadequate amounts of sleep
o Difficulty in finding time to spend with family and friends
o No time for self-care
o Struggling to focus
o Unable to remember the last time you had fun
According to Mayo Clinic the following are consequences of poor work-life balance:
o Fatigue. When you're tired, your ability to work productively and think clearly might suffer — which could take a toll on your professional reputation or lead to dangerous or costly mistakes.
o Poor health. Stress is associated with adverse effects on the immune system and can worsen the symptoms you experience from any medical condition. Stress also puts you at risk of substance abuse.
o Lost time with friends and loved ones. If you're working too much, you might miss important family events or milestones. This can leave you feeling left out and might harm relationships with your loved ones. It's also difficult to nurture friendships if you're always working.
o Increased expectations. If you regularly work extra hours, you might be given more responsibility — which could lead to additional concerns and challenges.
Juggling the demands of your career, military obligations and personal life will probably be an ongoing challenge. But if you can learn both to set limits and look after yourself, you can achieve the work-life balance that's best for you. Mayo Clinic suggests the following to help restore work-life balance:
o Manage your time. Cut or delegate activities you don't enjoy or can't handle. Do what needs to be done and let the rest go.
o Make a list. Put family events on a weekly calendar, and keep a daily to-do list at home and at work. Having a plan helps you maintain focus.
o Learn to say no. Whether it's a co-worker asking you to spearhead an extra project or your child's teacher asking you to organize a class party, remember that it's OK to respectfully say no. When you quit accepting tasks out of guilt or a false sense of obligation, you'll have more time for activities that are meaningful to you.
o Leave work at work. With the technology to connect to anyone at any time from virtually anywhere, there might be no boundary between work and home — unless you create it.
o Reduce email access. Check emails no more than three times a day — late morning, early afternoon and late in the day. If you access email first thing in the morning, you tend to focus on and respond to other people's issues rather than being proactive about your own needs.
o Ask your employer about flex hours, a compressed workweek, job sharing, telecommuting or other scheduling flexibility. The more control you have over your hours, the less stressed you're likely to be.
o Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep and make time for fun and relaxation. Set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy, such as practicing yoga or reading. Better yet, discover activities you can do with your partner, family or friends — such as hiking, dancing or taking cooking classes.
Remember, striking a healthy work-life balance isn't a one-shot deal. Creating work-life balance is a continuous process as your family, interests and work life change. Periodically examine your priorities — and make changes, if necessary.
Lastly, know when to seek professional help. We all need help from time to time. There may come a time when you just want to vent and have someone who is willing to listen. There may be a time when life feels too chaotic to manage and you're consumed with worry, talk with a professional — such as a counselor or other mental health provider.