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Tipping the Scales: How to slowly move closer towards work/life balance. (Part 1 of 3)

This month, we’re going to do another mini-series on work/life balance. Work/life balance in the United States is getting better, but it’s still an area that many Americans struggle with.  Let me share a few statistics with you:

 

  • The US ranks #30, out of 38 countries in work/life balance
  • 54% of Americans did not use all of their vacation time last year
  • 66% percent of Americans feel that they do not have a good work/life balance.

 

Also, with technology today constantly popping new e-mails into your inbox, it can often feel like we never have time away to rejuvenate and recharge.  Doing this can cost us long-term.

 

Costs of an Imbalanced Society:

A lot of studies have been done on the impact of a work/life imbalance, and it’s shown that it affects people in the following ways:

 

  • Health: Research shows that workers who spend more than 55 hours/week are six times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
  • Happiness: Employees working over 55 hours/week are at a greater risk of depression and anxiety.  
  • Relationships: 50% of workers state that their work schedule has required them to miss a family member’s important event.
  • Productivity: Employees who spend too much time at work, often end up being less productive and often become burned out.

 

If any of these statistics resonated for you, it may be time for you to reflect on your work/life balance.  Take a couple of moments to think about these questions:

  • Do you feel there is an imbalance between work and the other areas of your life?
  • If so, what costs does this imbalance cause in your life?

Regaining the Balance:

If you said yes to the question above, then it’s time to take action!  The rest of this post will discuss some specific steps you can take to start working towards having a more balanced life.

 

Step 1: Determine what balance looks like

Work/life balance means different things to different people. The amount of work that a twenty-something single worker puts in may be entirely different from the amount that a mother with two children.  To work towards a greater balance in your life, you first need to decide what your personal balance is.

 

To help you decide your personal balance, I’d like you to do the following exercise with me:

Example:

 

  1. On a piece of paper, I’d like you to draw two circles.  
  2. Above the first circle, write the word: “Actual”
  3. In the first circle, I’d like you to draw a pie chart showing how much time you spend on a weekly basis in the following categories:
    • Work
    • Time with friends and family
    • Hobbies
    • Exercise
    • Spiritual
    • Other: Feel free to put other categories you feel apply to you.
  1. Next, write “Ideal” in the second circle, and draw the same type of pie chart.  Instead, this time, draw out the percentages of how you ideally would like to spend your time.    

 

Remember, these percentages don’t need to be exact.  Just draw based on your “gut” feel.

 

As you compare the two, what do you notice?  What areas do you need to spend less time in?  What areas do you need to spend more time in? How does this balance affect your work?   Write your reactions in the comments below.

Over the next week, take some time to look at these pie charts and adjust them as needed.  What’s important is that you begin to get an idea of what “balance” looks like for you.

 

Next week, we’ll talk about the steps you’ll need to take to work towards your “ideal” work/life balance.  

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