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Challenges of balancing work and home

Work—life balance is a concept that includes proper prioritizing between work and home/personal life. Career and ambition should be balanced with your health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development. There is increasing stress in the lives, especially for women, who experience a never—ending workday. It is damaging to your health and emotional stability. It affects your overall happiness, hurts relationships and can damage your career. Improving your work life balance is an attainable goal but it takes work and commitment.

Some tips for success follow.

• Manage your time wisely — Map out your priorities and goals and keep a calendar.

• Take time for hobbies and passions — Decide what you enjoy doing and set a time on your calendar for the activity.

• Establish relationships away from the job — If you spend inordinate amounts of time at work there is no time for friends outside your job. Make friends at church, in clubs and in the community.

• Take time for you — Quiet time, meditation has to be planned. Just because you have an empty time slot on your calendar, you don’t have to schedule something other than scheduling the time to be alone, for yourself.

• Establish a social life — Join a club, Go to church. Reserve time for an enjoyable activity with others. Appreciate family and friends.

• Enjoy weekends — Instead of saving all your chores for the weekend, do some during the week. Do something fun.

• Take a vacation — Your job may be such that it is difficult to find a block of time to be away from work. Work out time off in at least a weeklong period. It takes days to wind down and relax. Vacations provide family time, time to rest and relax by getting completely away from the job. Depending on your position you may still be expected to check emails or take phone calls. If so, limit it to a short time once or twice a day.

• Make time for family — Schedule time to spend with your family. Show appreciation to them and host family get—togethers if they are close by. If they are distant stay in communication with them by whatever means works, i.e. Emails, face time, skype, texting, letter writing, etc. Plan quality visits whenever possible.

• Let go of perfectionism — Many overachievers develop perfectionistic tendencies from a young age. Perfectionism can become destructive to you and those with whom you have relations, both personal and professional. You may need professional counseling to overcome this trait.

• Exercise and eat right — Take time for the critical things in life including exercising regularly. Set up appointments to exercise just as you would for an important meeting. Stay with it. Plan and stick with good eating habits. If you are involved in a lot of meetings, trips and entertaining of clients it is harder but it can be accomplished with planning and commitment.

• Limit time—wasting activities and people who “steal” your time — Set your priorities and trim unnecessary events on your schedule. Avoid office chatter boxes and those who love to hear themselves talk. Some techniques that have worked for me is to not sit down when someone enters your office or tell the person you have another meeting in a short time. If you have a secretary have a pre—arranged signal to come to your rescue with a situation that needs your attention. Do whatever it takes to avoid allowing others to “steal” your time and make you as unproductive as they are.

• Make changes in your life’s structure — Don’t allow yourself to get into a rut. Be careful of habits that become set in stone. Don’t try to do everything. Delegate some duties to others.

• Share duties at home with a spouse if you are married — The old saying that “A man works from sun to sun but a woman’s work is never done” is often true. Women need to acknowledge that they can’t do it all without burning themselves out.

• Teach children to do chores — Children can help lighten the load at home. Teach them responsibility from a young age. You are not doing them a favor by doing everything for them.

If you are a workaholic you will have to be serious and focus on making changes. With around the clock access due to technology it is much more difficult to get away from job duties. A Harvard Business School survey reported that 94% of working professionals regularly worked more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked over 65 hours weekly.

Write a contract with your spouse and/or children agreeing to the steps you will take, support of each other and your commitment to make changes needed to protect your work—life balance. Women should resign the role of “Wonder woman”. Managing all the things you need to do and achieving a balance in your life is a challenge. Doing your best on the job, taking care of yourself (and kids if you have them), being a good spouse (if you are married), trying to see friends and spending time with all your family while staying sane is a full and overflowing plate. You may have to accept that you can’t have it all but you can certainly gain balance and live a happy, fulfilling life. Start by implementing some of these suggestions today.

Becky Vaughn—Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.