Here are 10 tips to help you achieve a better balance in your life. Take a moment to read and reflect on these tips — and then get your life in balance!
- Negotiate a Change with Your Current Employer. Progressive employers recognize the value of good employees, and many are willing to find ways to help current employees deal with short-term or permanent changes caused by family situations. The changes can include flextime, job-sharing, telecommuting, or part-time employment. Your first step is to research your employer’s policies and methods of handling previous requests. Then go to your boss armed with information and a plan that shows how you will be an even more valuable and productive employee if you can modify your current work situation.
- Find a New Career. Some careers are simply more stressful and time-consuming than others. If you need more time for yourself or your family, now may be the time to explore careers that are less stressful and more flexible.
- Find a New Job. Rather than a career change, perhaps you simply need to take a less stressful job within your chosen career. This change may involve working with your current employer to identify a new position, it may involve a full job-search, or it may involve temping or becoming a consultant or starting a freelancing or other home-based business.
- Slow Down. Life is simply too short, so don’t let things pass you in a blur. Take steps to stop and enjoy the things and people around you. Schedule more time between meetings; don’t make plans for every evening or weekend, and find some ways to distance yourself from the things that are causing you the most stress.
- Learn to Better Manage Your Time. Avoid Procrastination. For many people, most of the stress they feel comes from simply being disorganized — and procrastinating. Learn to set more realistic goals and deadlines — and then stick to them. You’ll find that not only are you less stressed, but your work will be better.
- Share the Load. Even though we may sometimes feel we’re the only ones capable of doing something, it’s usually not the case. Get your partner or other family members to help you with all your personal/family responsibilities. Taking care of the household, children, or parents should not be the responsibility of just one person.
- Let Things Go. (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.) It’s simpler said than done, but learn to let things go once in a while. So what if the dishes don’t washed everyday or that the house doesn’t get vacuumed every week. Learn to recognize the things that don’t really have much impact in your life and allow yourself to let them go — and then not beat yourself up for doing so.
- Explore Your Options. Get Help. If you are feeling overwhelmed with your family responsibilities, please get help if you can afford it. Find a sitter for your children, explore options for aging parents, and seek counseling for yourself. In many cases, you have options, but you need to take the time to find them.
- Take Charge. Set Priorities. Sometimes it’s easier for us to allow ourselves to feel overwhelmed rather than taking charge and developing a prioritized list of things that need to get done. You need to buck the trend. Develop a list. Set priorities. And then enjoy the satisfaction of crossing things off your list.
- Simplify. It seems human nature for just about everyone to take on too many tasks and responsibilities, to try to do too much, and to own too much. Find a way to simplify your life. Change your lifestyle. Learn to say no to requests for help. Get rid of the clutter and baggage in your house — and your life.
In the end, the key word is balance. You need to find the right balance that works for you. Celebrate your successes and don’t dwell on your failures. Life is a process, and so is striving for balance in your life.
Scoring: Give yourself 1 point for each “true” response. Note that each “true” response is a sign that you probably need to make changes in your life — and the higher the number, the more critical it is for you to make changes in your lifestyle.
If you scored…
0-2 Your life is in pretty good balance; just be sure to do what you can to guard that balance. 3-5 Your work/life balance is teetering on the edge; now is the time to make changes before the problems overwhelm you. 5+ Your life is out of balance; you need to take immediate action to make changes in your work and your life before things start crashing around you.
Everyone faces the issue of time management at one point or another, but as more and more people deal with working at one or more jobs, fighting long commutes, managing a household, attending school or other training, raising one or more children, responding to increasing work and time pressures of the shrinking workplace, and dealing with aging parents, the days often seem to last long into the night and vacation and leisure time seem to be consumed with issues other than relaxation and personal fulfillment.
In fact, a recent study of more than 50,000 employees from a variety of manufacturing and service organizations found that two out of every five employees are dissatisfied with the balance between their work and their personal lives. The lack of balance “is due to long work hours, changing demographics, more time in the car, the deterioration of boundaries between work and home, and increased work pressure,” says the study’s author, Bruce Katcher, president of the Discovery Group, a management consulting firm.
How much is work invading your personal life, and how much of your personal life is affected by the stress of trying to balance all the many responsibilities in your life? Take our Work/Life Balance Quiz below and see for yourself.
Directions: Answer true or false to each statement below.
- I find myself spending more and more time on work-related projects.
- I often feel I don’t have any time for myself — or for my family and friends.
- No matter what I do, it seems that often every minute of every day is always scheduled for something.
- Sometimes I feel as though I’ve lost sight of who I am and why I chose this job/career.
- I can’t remember the last time I was able to find the time to take a day off to do something fun — something just for me.
- I feel stressed out most of the time.
- I can’t even remember the last time I used all my allotted vacation and personal days.
- It sometimes feels as though I never even have a chance to catch my breath before I have to move on to the next project/crisis.
- I can’t remember the last time I read — and finished — a book that I was reading purely for pleasure.
- I wish I had more time for some outside interests and hobbies, but I simply don’t.
- I often feel exhausted — even early in the week.
- I can’t remember the last time I went to the movies or visited a museum or attended some other cultural event.
- I do what I do because so many people (children, partners, parents) depend on me for support.
- I’ve missed many of my family’s important events because of work-related time pressures and responsibilities.
- I almost always bring work home with me.
Trip One: Cape Romain
(average of $230 a day for family of four…including stay at B&B, food, and activities)
Cape Romain! Established in 1932 as a migratory bird refuge, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge encompasses a 22-mile segment of the southeast Atlantic coast. The refuge consists of 66,267 acres which include a fascinating expanse of barrier islands, salt marshes, intricate coastal waterways, long sandy beaches, fresh and brackish water impoundments, and maritime forest. Points of interest include Bulls Island, Cape Island, and Lighthouse Island where two lighthouses, no longer operational, still stand. Make plans to stay at Cape Romain B&B located in the beautiful town of McClellanville, just minutes from the refuge. You should also make plans to visit The Village Museum and Hampton Plantation. There are always weekly and monthly events at the refuge, so even if you don’t plan ahead, you can still look forward to an exciting weekend.
(under $500 for two nights/ two days of fun)
Take a half day from work on Friday, head up to Columbia and spend the rest of the afternoon at the EdVenture Museum. Spend the night at a local Bed & Breakfast or at the Embassy Suites (they have a nightly Managers Reception with appetizers and wine/beer! Your stay also includes a hot breakfast!) Saturday morning, after breakfast, head over to the Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Plan on having lunch at the zoo! Around 3 or 4pm, head back to your room, get refreshed for the evening and head out to a local pizza place or have it delivered right to your room! Sunday morning, after breakfast, head back to Charleston! OR trim $120 off your bill and head back Saturday evening.
(about $620 for two nights/two days of fun)
Oh so close, but oh so far away! Just over an hours drive, Beaufort is the second oldest city in SC, after Charleston. With its picturesque alleys and homes, you can find yourself spending hours just touring the city. Beaulieu House is located on the water and is only five minutes from downtown. The Sanctuary has a newly rebuilt 18 hole championship course and an Olympic sized swimming pool.
($50 a day)
Campgrounds and Cottages at Charleston County Parks and Recreation! This is the ULTIMATE experience, with great savings and minimum travel time. Within less than 30 minutes, you and your family (up to 6 people) could be camping out at the James Island County Park around $20* per night! Doesn’t get any better than this if you’re trying to save time AND money. And to throw in a lesson on community involvement, your family could even volunteer in the park for a few hours. *rate is for Charleston County residents
Please share your money and time saving vacations with us! Comment below or send us an email!