Recently, Glassdoor published a ranking of the Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance. Based on employee commentary, this list reveals how seriously some companies take your work-life balance, personal initiatives, and personal interests.
However, what if your company didn't make the cut, and wouldn't come close to qualifying? What can you do for yourself to manage a good work-life balance and not go crazy?
Here are five tips to consider:
1. Unplug. Unless your job requires being on-call 24/7, then don't be. Create virtual boundaries and stick to them. If this means that, during your off time, you must involve your spouse or friend to lock your smartphone and laptop in a drawer, then do it. Train yourself to unwind through un-tethering from technology. You may start with a one-hour unplug time in the evenings, and then slowly increase the time you are virtually unavailable (e.g., logged out of email, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and so forth). You may feel anxious initially, but over time, the opposite will be true. You will find solace—a respite amidst the storm of social media and work chit chat.
2. Stand up. If your job requires constant sitting and working at a computer, stand up! Find five to 10 minutes every hour to move your muscles and clear your mind. You'll be amazed at what a walk around the office area or even better, outdoors, will do to lift your emotional spirits and elevate your energy. It's easy to get so entrenched in your work that hours pass without budging from your chair. If this describes you, then you may need to retrain yourself. Set a timer to remind you once per hour to get up and move.
3. Make plans. If your work is so onerous that you find yourself continually saying, "No" to invitations for socializing and fun with your friends, then something has to give. It is astonishing that once you set your intentions to go to dinner, attend a theatrical production, leave for the lake—whatever is your prescription for enjoyment—and then commit with words, how you will then somehow "find" the time to make it happen. None of us is so important or indispensable that we cannot afford to take time off from work to recharge and re-energize. In fact, we cannot afford NOT to.
4. Exercise. In order to clear the intellectual and emotional cobwebs, to fuel yourself with a shot of endorphins, and to stay physically healthy, you must exercise throughout the week. Doing so will add balance to your work and life, helping you to vet out clearer, more concise decisions, and move through problems in a swifter manner. The after-effects of exercise include multiple layers of rewards and benefits, including feelings of optimism and hope that your sometimes-overwhelming work life may be stealing from you.
5. Work harder. This may sound counter intuitive if you're currently feeling burnt out by the unbalanced nature of your current workload. The suggestion here is to authentically ingratiate yourself with your boss by providing new areas of value beyond your job description. Consider what pain points you could be resolving for your boss and pitch in. If he is struggling with a certain project, then offer to help. If he is frustrated with the lack of team buy-in to a new sales, technology, operational, or other initiative, and you sincerely believe in what he's advocating, then campaign on his behalf to other team members.
The point is to be proactive where you are passive currently. Supporting your boss's goals, helping alleviate pressure and being instrumental in moving his efforts forward may surprise you with the rewards. For example, he may be more amenable to your taking off work a couple of hours early on a Friday to start your weekend at the lake. The key here is to be genuine in your actions. Consider this tip and apply it when you observe a situation where you could help; then, step out of your comfort zone and get involved.
Life is too short to stay stuck in an unhappy vortex. By taking charge, you can recharge your batteries, reclaim your calm, carve out new boundaries, and create new ways to achieve satisfaction, balance, and joy in your life.
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. Jacqui and her husband, "Sailor Rob," host a lively careers-focused blog at http://careertrend.net/blog. Jacqui is a power Twitter user (@ValueIntoWords), listed on several "Best People to Follow" lists for job seekers.