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How can I achieve work-life balance?

LAST week's column highlighted one of today's workplace buzzwords-work-life balance. This was in response to Rita R's inquiry on how one can achieve work-life balance.

Rita is fortunate to be part of a company where work-life balance is assisted by employers who institute policies, procedures, actions and expectations that enable employees to easily pursue more balanced lives. But as she acknowledged, achieving that balance will ultimately depend on oneself.

We began by citing the importance of work-life balance. Mental Health America said that 'over time, stress weakens our immune system and makes us susceptible to a variety of ailments from colds to backaches to heart disease. But when workers are balanced and happy, they are more productive, take fewer sick days, and are more likely to stay in their jobs.'

We also shared an article in, where James Sudakow talked about '8 Daily Habits that are Making your Work-Life Balance Goals Unattainable.'

In the article, he listed these habits as the trap of the superhero syndrome, the trap of artificial urgency, the trap of undefined boundaries, the trap of no-buffer zone, the trap of constant triage, the trap of chasing time, the trap of late nights getting it all done, and the trap of forgetting about yourself. He also offered solutions to overcome these.

In this column, we will highlight '6 Tips for Better Work-Life Balance' which Deborah Jian Lee wrote in an article in Forbes magazine. Lee began by acknowledging that 'work-life balance means something different to every individual, but health and career experts share tips to help you find the balance that's right for you.'

1 Let go of perfectionism. In Lee's article, executive coach Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, said that 'a lot of overachievers develop perfectionist tendencies at a young age when demands of their time are limited to school, hobbies, and maybe an after-school job.'

But as one grows up, 'life becomes more complicated...your responsibilities mushroom, and perfectionism becomes out of reach. And if this habit remains unchecked, it can become destructive.'

Puder-York, who wrote 'The Office Survival Guide' said the key to burning out is to let go of perfectionism. A healthier option is to 'strive not for perfection, but for excellence.'

2 Unplug. Technology has helped our lives out in many ways, but 'it has also created expectations of constant accessibility. The workday never seems to end,' said Robert Brooks, a professor of psychology of the Harvard Medical School.

Brooks, who is the coauthor of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life, said that 'phone notifications interrupt your off time and inject an undercurrent of stress in your system.'

Instead of constantly being interrupted, Brook advised to make quality time, true quality time. By unplugging, you will develop a stronger habit of resilience. 'Resilient people feel a greater sense of control over their lives,' Brook said, while reactive people have less control and are more prone to stress.

3 Exercise and meditate. According to the Mayo Clinic, 'Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphin through your body. It helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by also putting you in a meditative state.'

Puder-York 'recommends dedicating a few chunks of time each week to self-care, whether it's exercise, yoga, meditation or prayer. And if you're really pressed for time, start with deep breathing exercises during your commute.' These can include a five-minute session of prayer or meditation morning and night or replacing drinking alcohol with a healthier form of stress reduction.

4 Limit time-wasting activities and people. Lee suggested that we first 'identify what's most important in your life. This list will differ from everyone, so make sure it reflects your priorities, not someone else's. Next, draw firm boundaries so you can devote quality time to these high-priority people and activities.'

Some of her suggestions: 'If e-mail or Internet surfing sends you into a time-wasting spiral, establish rules to keep you on task. If you're mindlessly surfing Facebook or cat blogs when you should be getting work done, try using productivity software like Freedom, LeeBlock or Rescue Time.'

She added that 'if you find your time being gobbled up by less constructive people, find ways to diplomatically limit these interactions. Cornered every morning by the office chatterbox? Politely excuse yourself. Drinks with the gang the night before a busy, important day? Bow out and get a good night's sleep.' Instead 'focus on people and activities that reward you the most.'

5 Change the structure in your life. Change happens all the time. The best thing to do is to reassess what works best for you and what can make your life easier.

6 Start small. Build from there. Brooks said that 'we've all been there: crash diets that fizzle out, New Year's resolutions that we forget by February. It's the same with work-life balance when we take on too much too quickly.'

Many of his workaholic clients that commit to drastic changes-cutting their hours from 80 a week to 40, bumping up their daily run from zero miles a day to five miles a day-are in for what he calls 'a recipe for failure.'

Instead, 'if you're trying to change a certain script in your life, start small and experience some success. Build from there.'
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jul 22, 2018
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