The Balancing Act: Making Peace Between Busy Work, Social & Family Lives

March 19th, 2011 | Self Improvement

Creating balance between work, home and social life is something we all want, and something we all struggle with. Especially as women, we live with constant extremes: keeping a focused head from 9-5 while still maintaining our ability to ‘turn it off’, let loose, hang with friends and enjoy hobbies; putting in enough hours at our jobs to support our loved ones while still having enough time to spend with them; trying to compete in a male-centered world at the office vs. wanting to be a feminine, attractive, sensitive partner at home.

Attempting to make everything our #1 priority sets us up for failure. Trust me- if you have a friend who seems to “have it all” (a great career, family, friends, wardrobe, etc) and makes it look easy, I’m sure she actually has to work REALLY hard at it. In fact, most people have to work really hard just to excel in just ONE of these categories!

But, just because attaining balance is difficult, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. It can be depressing and dangerous to our health to simply overachieve at one component of our life while neglecting our social life, and personal need to relax / reconnect with ourselves… just ask anyone who is a business manager, stay at home mother, single parent, company owner, or sole caretaker of a sick relative.

Here’s a not-so-fun-fact: A Boston College study of US employees found that ‘overworked’ participants experienced more frequent sleep disturbances, upset stomach, headaches, low morale, short temper, and increased use of drugs and alcohol. And, 21% had higher levels of depression than those who worked standard hours.

On the flip-side, when we can thoughtfully manage our work schedule so that we have time for ourselves, our partner, our family members and friends, we feel wonderful about ourselves. It’s that empowered ‘kicking butt at life’ kinda feeling where, for a brief time, the universe seems to align and give us an applause.

So… how can we have that feeling on a more regular basis? Here’s one key goal that will help you make it happen!

Adopt a 9-5 Mentality

Basically, this means forcing yourself to “let go” a bit when it comes to involvement at work. I know sometimes this seems difficult, but trust me, it’s important. Get all the work done that you can between 9 and 5 (or 9-6 if this is more realistic for you), and when your time is up, get up from your desk and walk away.

This also means leaving work at work. We can always be connected with technology (that’s why they call it a ‘crack-berry!’) but this makes it impossible to have boundaries between work and home/social lives. When you’re home, try to be fully present, whether it’s for yourself, your pet, your spouse, children, or whomever else you’re coming home to. Don’t come home and immediately start talking about work. I figure that I get paid to talk about work all day long. So, unless I’m getting paid after 5 p.m., what’s the point in continuing to talk about my job? From 9-5, I take care of business. After 5 p.m., I take care of myself, my friends, my boyfriend and my dog. I try to maintain this distinction.

Most importantly, if you have a boyfriend, spouse, child or family who relies on you, don’t make exceptions to the 9-5 mentality without checking with these people. If your office wants you to work until 8 p.m., come in on a Saturday, take a work trip, etc., talk to your loved ones about what is best. If you can earn a bunch of overtime $ and afford to take vacation with your family at a later time, then maybe this is worth it. But, this is a trade-off that you should discuss TOGETHER.

For more tips about achieving balance in your work and social lives, stay tuned to future Femmesil newsletters. In each issue, I’ll feature a new goal with easy steps for creating and maintaining peace.

And of course, if you have any tips of your own or comments about this article, please post them below!

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