Whether you’re a single parent, a part-time student, a friend, a grandparent, or a fiancée, you have responsibilities outside of work. Your duties can range from extremely demanding (hello three children under the age of five!) to requiring only minimal effort on your part (think young, carefree bachelor), but they’re still exactly that: duties. No matter how strong your ambition to climb the corporate ladder, there are certain things you’re bound to do as a human being who has a life outside of the office. Despite the fact that your boss needs you to crank out just a few more reports or your coworker needs just another hour of your time, you still have mouths to feed, appointments to make, or friends and family to visit.
If you find yourself constantly struggling to find a friend or relative who can pick the kids up from daycare or you’ve rescheduled a date with that pretty girl from the library more times than you can count, then it’s time to evaluate your work-life balance. Fortunately, changing some of your habits to have a more fulfilling life outside of the office is probably easier than you’ve imagined. Simply follow the steps outlined below:
Keep a to-do list
Maintaining a prioritized to-do list provides an at-a-glance-outline of your important commitments. Make a conscious effort to assign priorities to your personal goals and responsibilities and don’t allow yourself to demote these tasks in exchange for work-related objectives. If you’re looking forward to a dinner date with your girlfriends, then tell yourself that a last-minute project from the boss will just have to wait and let your manager know that it will be your first priority the following morning.
Schedule technology-free hours during the evening and on the weekend
If you’re tempted to pick up your smart phone every time it dings with the arrival of a new email or text message, make your phone off-limits for a couple hours every evening. This can allow you to enjoy uninterrupted time at the dinner table, vegging on the couch, or reading a bedtime story to your children. You may also want to turn your phone off and shut your laptop down on Saturday and/or Sunday so you can maximize your time spent with friends and family over the weekend.
Focus less on being a “people pleaser”
Of all the “urgent” work-related tasks that interfere with your personal life, how many of them can only be completed by you? Chances are, a good number of these projects are put on your plate because your boss and your coworkers know that you can’t say “no.” If you have a personal commitment and aren’t able to stay a few hours late or work over the weekend, then simply explain that you’re not available this time but maybe you can help out the next time they’re in a bind. Or, offer your assistance first thing tomorrow morning since, in all reality, it can probably wait a few hours anyway.
Take care of yourself
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a timeout for yourself. Schedule a massage or an aromatherapy session, attend a yoga class, or do whatever it is that helps you relax. And, don’t feel guilty about using your vacation days. Sometimes a trip to the beach or a few days in the mountains is all it takes to reset and restore your sanity.
Don’t be shy about seeking professional help
If you’re not quite able to tame your work-life balance on your own, a counselor or therapist may be able to help. Your employer may even cover the cost, making this option that much more attractive.