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Time management traditionally involves dividing up hours according to separate life segments - professional, family, rest, play. This approach worked well when work hours were clearly delineated from time off. In today’s world, where new working environments like hybrid and remote work blurs professional and personal hours, a new time management approach is required.
To achieve a healthy work-life balance, consider the entirety of your time. Whether it is work, spirituality, education, family responsibilities, or otherwise, each is a part of our lives…and all of our lives are defined by precious, finite time.
Viewing our time in a complete, finite fashion is the first layer. The second layer is values. How do we value our time, and how does our time align with our values?
We call this approach the Work-Life Balance Integration.
When guided by these principles, your time will be spent meaningfully. You are more likely to be fully present in the moment, more engaged in activities and feel more in control of your time and life.
Signs You Have a Poor Work-Life Balance
Many signs of a poor work-life balance mimic those of general stress. Other symptoms show up as dysfunctions in your relationships and mental well-being.
1. You are suffering physically.
Your body is trying to tell you to take better care of yourself. Headaches, neck strain, and shoulder pain are all classic signs of stress. Persistent fatigue or brain fog is also a way of your body signalling for you to slow down.
2. You are impatient or irritable.
People annoy you more than they used to. You realize you are being short with co-workers and family, and more apt to lose your temper.
3. You are glued to your devices.
The phone, tablet or other device is always at your side. You monitor and respond to work messages at all hours.
4. You lack clarity about priorities.
It is difficult to say “no” to requests to take on other projects or assist the team because your priorities are not clear. You look at your schedule and feel deflated because the tasks do not align with your larger life goals.
5. You are a perfectionist.
Perfect is the enemy of good, as the saying goes. Striving to be ever error-free comes at a cost - namely, time and sanity. Focus on getting your tasks done well, not perfectly. Not all mistakes or errors are equal, so let the small stuff go.
6. Your relationships are strained.
Are your loved ones complaining about how they don’t see you anymore? Has it been ages since you had quality time with family and friends? These are signs that you are neglecting a very important part of the work-life balance: your meaningful relationships.
7. When did you last have fun?
If you have trouble answering this question, then your work-life balance needs adjusting. People with a healthy work-life balance regularly engage in activities that they enjoy but are not obligated to do. They even laugh a lot!
Learn More - Signs Your Team Is Not Successfully Prioritizing
Work-Life Balance Integration: The Work-Life Balance Wheel
Fortunately, you can make your work-life balance more harmonious. It takes mindfulness and a commitment to adjust some of your habits.
The Priority Management method for achieving work-life balance integration involves the Work-Life Balance Wheel. While in theory, this exercise does not take long to complete, it is most beneficial when performed with serious thought. Participants are encouraged to carve out the space and time needed for creative and deep contemplation, and then share their results with their support system, such as a trusted co-worker, mentor, close friend and/or family member.
The Work-Life Balance Wheel Exercise is broken down into four activities:
● Satisfaction Survey
● Tension Quotient
● SMART Goals
● Performance Plans
The first activity using the work-life integration wheel is designed to determine your level of satisfaction with key aspects of your life:
After performing the satisfaction self-assessment, participants write value statements. The first statement is the regard they have for each life area. The second statement is how to live up to this life area at the highest value. Participants then write a simple sentence on how they are currently living up to this part of their lives.
A rating system is then performed, giving participants a score in each category. The effect gives participants clarity in discerning the difference between what is real and what is aspirational in each significant area of their lives.
Why is this activity called the tension quotient? Think about the source of tension in your life. Much of it is the discrepancy between how things are and how you wish they were.
We may not be able to right the injustices or check the chaos that we confront in the world every day, but we can control ourselves and how we manage our time. The tension quotient gives you the tools to do this and live a value-guided life.
SMART Goals and Performance Plans
The final two activities for Work-Life Balance Integration involve creating a path to reach the objectives identified in the previous activity. Participants create SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, trackable) goals, breaking these down into smaller tasks.
Finally, these goals and action items are then incorporated into a larger performance plan. In this way, participants ensure that they are consistently working towards their priorities and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.