With just two weeks of paid vacation and no legally mandated paid holidays, Americans spend more time working than employees anywhere in the advanced world. Even when Americans are supposed to be vacationing, 61 percent are prepared to work. That makes achieving a work-life balance difficult, but it’s not impossible. Read on to discover to be successful at work and still enjoy a social life.
Take Your Vacations
Working full-time hours without pause can take its toll. Workers who don’t take vacations have an increased risk of heart disease and high stress levels. Yet most American workers typically have nine days of vacation remaining at year’s end.
Many fear their bosses will believe they’re lazy if they take time off. However, those increased health risks can cost employers in the long run. You can generate good will in the office by vacationing during slow periods and leaving clear instructions for your team to follow in your absence.
Ninety-seven percent of happy employees say they achieve their work-life balance by taking their vacations. Use your vacation time to reconnect with your family members and friends.
Create Physical Boundaries
Setting physical boundaries is one of the best ways to create the perfect work-life balance. Set up a home office and retreat to it when work needs completing after hours. Keep work documents out of the living room and your smartphone off of the restaurant table to help you focus on socializing in your down time. This clear separation will help you be much more productive when you’re on duty and more at ease when you’re with loved ones.
Leave Work at a Reasonable Hour
Last year, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg admitted that she leaves work at 5:30 p.m. every day to make sure she eats dinner with her family, yet she continues to manage a company worth $100 billion. If she can set such behavioral boundaries and succeed in her high-powered workplace, so can you.
When you commit to leaving work at a reasonable time, you can also make commitments to other people. You can accept a place on an indoor sports team, knowing you won’t let your fellow players down, or plan for those evening family meals that your child enjoys so much. You’ll also find that your productivity increases, as a tighter evening deadline leaves no time to waste. While you’re still performing, your boss won’t question your decision to leave at a reasonable time.
Reconsider Your Errands
The last U.S. Census reported that the average American adult spent almost two hours every day running errands and completing household chores. These activities are often seen as necessary evils, as they don’t advance your career or enhance your social life. So do you really need to do them?
Consider outsourcing those chores you really hate, such as ironing your clothes, cleaning your house, and mowing your lawn. You can also cut your errand time by ordering groceries online or arranging for your car to be cleaned at your place of business while you work. While outsourcing these services costs money, it’ll also save you some of that valuable time.
If your budget’s tight, you might like to trade services amongst your friends. For example, if you’re a keen cook, you might like to make meals for friends in exchange for babysitting duties.
Schedule in Social Time
You wouldn’t think twice before locking in a business meeting or a project deadline, but when someone suggests catching up for dinner, you’re hesitant to commit. However, calendars aren’t just for workplace obligations, Jessica Kizorek of the professional self-development program Make Them Beg reminds us.
“You have to plan for play,” she told the Miami Herald. “Otherwise work expands and there’s no time for play.”
Block out regular time for date nights, get-together nights with friends, family functions, or whatever else you feel like you’re missing out on in a mobile planner. The new Blackberry phones work with the Blackberry mobile device management platform, so if you add and appointment on any of your devices, it will automatically sync to your phone calendar. This practice guarantees you’ve always got your schedule on hand.
Remember to Be Flexible
To be the best employee, friend, and family member you need to be flexible. Sometimes, work will get on top of you; on other occasions, you’ll field so many social invitations that you’ll crave a night in.
Your calendar can help you plan for a good social life and work balance, but it shouldn’t be set in stone. A model employee knows to shift social plans should work duties arise. Just make sure you reschedule them to create the balance you’re looking for. If you’re working long hours, remember to plan a post-deadline night out to even up the ledger.
Hire a Life Coach
It can be difficult to assess the changes you need to make from the inside. Life coaches are experts in helping people lead happier, more productive lives. They act as objective mentors for adults looking for answers during times of transition.
According to their clients, trained life coaches know how to get results. Ninety-nine percent of people who’ve employed a life coach say they were happy with the experience, and 96 percent of people say they’d seek the opinions of a life coach again.
Amongst other things, your life coach can help you slow down, focus on all facets of your life, and develop a plan of action to achieve the balance you’re looking for.
Focus on the Moment
Thirty-four percent of workers estimate they waste half an hour of each working day. Almost a quarter feel that they waste an hour, while a brave 11 percent admit to wasting a few hours each day. Just think how much more productive you’d be if you spent less time gossiping with co-workers, surfing the web, and taking personal phone calls. You’ll perform better in the office if you stay in the moment and on task.
The same philosophy applies to your social life. All too often, our work doesn’t rob us of our social life; but worrying about it does. Leaving the office behind and focusing on the people around you will make you a much better friend and family member.
America’s high-achieving culture can make achieving a work-life balance difficult, but with these strategies, you can get ahead in the office and find time for loved ones.
A Balancing Act: How to be Successful at Work and Still Have a Social Life