The workplace can help us realize our potential but it can also trigger fight or flight responses in us, bring out our innermost insecurities. At work, as leaders so many things threaten our career goals, our promotions, our desires for success, our relationships and most importantly our sanity.
Leaders constantly feel the pressures of keeping up, of always being on top of everything. It is even a requirement that leaders project confidence, demonstrate optimism, or remain stoic in the face of events.
However, sooner or later, we end up sacrificing what we value most, solely keeping up with appearances, looking busy but being unproductive, spreading ourselves thin, doing sloppy work and not caring about people.
Wondering what strategies to use to improve your well-being and work-life balance?
What is work-life balance?
Work is part of life: we spend most of our waking hours at work more than anything else. Needless to say, work and life are not opposite nor are they inseparable: lack of work-life balance has direct repercussions on our health, finances and families, creates fatigue, poor judgement, poor performance, high emotions.
Creating work-life balance is not giving equal attention to both work and life. But, it means that you are satisfied with your contributions to your life and work, that you are able to create a sustainable synergy between both so that you are fueled by them on a daily basis.
A healthy work-life balance can be motivated by life changing events or by a desire to do better. Work-life balance involves wise time management, self-discipline, and creates a better quantity to quality ratio.
Balancing work and life is hard but achievable because time is limited and we want to maximize our time the best we know how.
Benefits of a healthy work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance is an issue that mostly plagues millennials. To them, work should be enjoyable, emotionally and financially rewarding.
In many ways, it forces us to redefine success, our career and our relationships. It also helps us fulfill our needs, give us a profound sense of satisfaction, and become the best version of ourselves.
It allows you to create intention: you move with a clearly defined purpose. It is essential to manage your time and resources, level of commitment, to invest most of them in yourself and not in someone else’s dream.
It has the ability to increase job satisfaction, well-being, sense of self, self-awareness, effectiveness, adaptability, resilience, and creativity. It provides the tools to improve work performance, to revamp health, to maintain relationships, to appropriately deal with stress, and to avoid burnout.
How to create the best work-life balance?
Sometimes we are unable to distance ourselves from work because we feel indispensable to the organization, we feel threatened, or replaceable. Furthermore, achieving work-life balance is hard: some people, mostly high achievers, can feel guilty for taking time off and not investing it in their work.
However, an unhealthy work-life balance can lead to burn out, can trigger unexpected emotional outburst, heavily strain your physical and emotional well-being.
Burnout is hard to recover from. It hits you unexpectedly but is actually a slow burning process. Burnout is caused by overworking yourself, by a lack of recognition, by a lack of validation and chronic stress. It translates itself into feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, dissatisfaction, despair, depressions, low self-esteem, feelings of being stuck and of failure.
In addition, it is detrimental to understand that living to work or sacrificing health and energy is not the way to succeed. To successfully create a healthy work-life balance:
- Take care of yourself first and boost your leadership self-esteem from time to time. It is cliché but it is true: when you fly on airplane, you must put your mask on first before assisting others.
- Be clear about your purpose. Identify the reasons why you are working, establish a personal mission statement or elevator speech.
- Take back control of your time, your energy, thoughts and happiness. Strangely enough, we choose the life we want to live. We chose yesterday the life we are living today.
- Be present and get out of autopilot mode. This will help you appreciate moments in your life and to think on your feet.
- Assess your strengths and weaknesses to figure out where and how to apply them, to know when and how to say no and to get the most out of work.
- Identify stressors, the things that fulfill you the most and those that don’t. What activities engage you the most? If your aren’t applying your strengths and interests at work, find areas outside of work to do so.
- Prioritize what matters most, avoid multitasking, pay attention to the vital few, keep your life simple and don’t be afraid of missing out.
- Align your daily activities in life and work with your values, principles.
- Set specific goals for yourself to increase motivation, to build up confidence and to stay focused.
- Be more disciplined. In order to make your life worthwhile, avoid distractions. This means that you have to shut down your phones, your television and avoid checking your emails outside of work.
- Be open to new opportunities, new experiences.
- Build real connections and learn to discern the authentic relationships by observing their actions.
- During the day, clear out at least one hour to relax and empty out your mind. Try meditation and a new sport. If it is not working, give yourself the space and the time to explore new things.
- Reduce your commuting time or avoid commuting during peak hours if possible.
- Dedicate more hours to sleep. Sleep is a cure for many diseases. It helps to eliminate bad toxins, to increase your focus and your job performance.
- Challenge your core habits and deal with change one at a time. Implementing a successful work-life balance can be overwhelming at first but it makes sense in the long run.
- Promote well-being in the workplace. Dedicate a specific space for work only, decorate your office with things you enjoy, be playful without being frivolous, show your employees that you take vacations and encourage them to do the same.
- Learn to delegate, to clearly communicate your requirements and to set boundaries. Setting boundaries help you gain respect from your employees.
- Stop focusing on analytics, metrics, meetings and deadlines to measure your self-worth.
- After work, reward yourself, leave work for the workplace and concentrate on your family and friends when you are with them.
- Help your employees understand that their health, well-being is more important to their productivity. That being said, monitor the most ambitious and driven employees to make sure they don’t burnout or literally work themselves to death.
- Value your employees and show your appreciation for their hard work.
- Don’t burden your employees with heavy workload and unreachable deadlines.
- Allow flexible hours and other activities in the workplace.
- Put the power of internet to good use and allow people to work from home. Employees working from home are more productive, have reduced commuting time, have less stress, are not constantly bothered by events in the office. It also allows the organization to save money on energy consumption and office space.
- Seek external help if needed.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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