Work life balance: have you lost focus?

Work life balance: have you lost focus? By Petra on 26/10/2015 2947 Work-life balance

Do you feel satisfied with your life?

In today’s day and age we feel like we need to ‘have it all’. Be able to balance a 40+ hour workweek, family life and exercise, and still keep a sound mental health. We are overachievers and society applauds us for it. Recent studies of the UK’s mental health foundation show that the more time you spend at work (30+ hours), the less happy you are. 

The pressure we put on ourselves is just unhealthy. We’re out of balance. Work is often the component that tips the scale.

We forget what is most important

We have become accustomed to sleeping less, eating poorly and cutting back on family time in order to make longer hours and more money. Internet has made it easier to respond to work e-mails and send reports in the late hours of the day.

Let me ask you this: “Do you live to work or do you work to live?”

Working late is not a problem but when you fall into a cycle of neglecting your basic needs, your mental and physical health might be in trouble. You need to focus on what is important to you in order to regain your balance.

So, how do you know what to focus on?

How do you create a good balance between the different aspects in your life?

I have struggled with getting the balance right for many years. Now, I coach business people, a lot like yourself, to get their priorities straight.

Getting a good work-life balance begins with awareness. When you can identify which aspect of your life needs attention, you’ll get your focus back. 

First, you need to know about the hierarchy of needs.

We humans have different kinds of needs. Basic physiological needs, psychological needs - like safety, meaningful relationships and self-esteem - and self-fulfillment needs. 

These needs are described by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model. Maslow was a well-known psychologist who specialized in human motivation in the last century.

It might feel like our innate needs have changed in the last decades with the introduction of internet, multimedia and advanced technology. But trust me: our human needs have not changed. Work is important to increase our self-esteem, but not at the expense of your other needs.

So what can you do to balance the scales? Try these four steps to get back on track.

Step # 1: Redefine your needs

Make a list of your needs, in the order of importance you give to them. What do you need to fulfill those needs? Then use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model to change the order of importance. Example: success at work can never be more important than your health. Are you giving enough importance to the right needs?

Step # 2: Separate work from home 

You might have important questions to be answered the next day, but when you leave the office, just shut the door after you. Literally and figuratively. Take a few minutes at the end of every workday to close that day, so you can easily start up the next day again. Don’t leave ideas and issues lying around. And also very important: unplug! Unplug your work e-mail, phone and computer.

Step # 3: Make healthy choices

When you end up taking work home with you because you don’t have enough time, think about how you can change this. Have you prioritized your tasks well enough? Do you have colleagues to share the workload with?

When your boss - Yes, that means YOU, when you’re an entrepreneur - asks you to take on more tasks, don’t comply right away. Adding extra work often creates problems in other areas of your life. Make an overview of the tasks you already have and the time you spend on them. Ask yourself what old task you can drop, to make room for the new. Learn to prioritize and don’t be afraid to speak up for your choices.

Step # 4: Take responsibility

Remember, you are the one who needs to take responsibility for your work-life balance. Own up to your needs and listen to them. Make a schedule for the important things in your life you often discard because you end up being busy with other things. Give them priority. For example, plan a date night every week. And accept that you can’t do everything right. 

Remember, the better you take care of you, the better you can take care of everything else.

Let me know in the comments below how you create a good work-life balance. Which need could use more of your attention?

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