Work-Life balance – the phrase was first heard in the late 1970s, describing the balance between an individual’s work and personal life. Now, almost half a century has passed, and just when the world started believing that the conveniences of modern technology would mean an “easier” life, consumerism and fast-paced competition tipped the scale to the other end. Meaning, more time is needed to work, work, and work.
The technological advances of today hasten everything that can possibly happen in 24 hours – e-mails, VoIP calls, SMS. When these breakthroughs were newly introduced, we were amazed and impressed by what fast-paced communication could do! Figuratively speaking, technology made the world smaller, and business opportunities greater.
Alas! For many of us now, today’s breakneck speed can only mean tons of work that get piled on us faster and heavier. No wonder why weekend spas and exotic vacation resorts keep calling on us to take “that much-deserved,” or aptly, “that much-needed” break. And when the holiday ends, we all groan at the thought of going back to reality, going back to work.
There is no clear-cut definition of what is good and balanced. What is ideal depends on the person’s age, marital status, or domestic situation. Whatever it is, we are all in search of that elusive work-life balance that we read and dream of. We all have our ways and systems in managing and coping. What else haven’t we tried and done?
1. Compartmentalize your day. Many career women have domestic obligations to attend to at the end of the day – husband and kids, ailing parents. Most days, these so-called superwomen find themselves with little superpowers left, even to take care of themselves. Break your 24-hour day into chunks and make sure you stick to the schedule: 8 hours – sleep; 8 hours – day job; 4 hours – for the hubby or the children; 4 hours – me time. Adhere to your time blocks and minimize mix-ups. It’s when we squeeze in work at home, or domestic chores during our personal time that the scales become unbalanced.
2. Be humble enough to know you can’t do it all. It’s when we try to do it ALL, and all at the SAME time, that we get overwhelmed and end up not accomplishing much. Granted, there are tasks that we would rather do ourselves, knowing that no one else can do them better. There are tasks too that we’re afraid to delegate to others, thinking, “If I want it done right, I better do it myself.” Alright, give yourself that. But at the same time, learn to accept and let go – some other tasks can be better done or faster accomplished by other people. Let them.
3. Get good help and delegate. At home, good help can mean an extra pair of hands. At work, good help is taken to mean another head on the shoulders with a working brain to help you think. For both the home and work front, don’t just make do with extra help that you’re unsure of. If you can’t leave your house without fear that it won’t catch fire once you’re gone, or if you can’t leave the office without constantly worrying if he’s doing things right, keep looking for the one that you can confidently bank on.
4. Set a “me” time, and keep it sacred. We all need our personal alone time to recharge our tired selves. Whatever it takes – having a good long nap, taking a road trip down to the valley, or getting lost in a book or a movie. Some people tend to feel guilty while enjoying brief moments of indulgence. Don’t! And some people, as they head on out for that massage appointment, opt to cancel and do more work (goodness gracious!) instead. A bigger don’t! Respect that 2-hour break you set aside for yourself. Put into perspective that in the many on-going things happening in your life, the 2 hours for yourself will not cause your big upcoming deal any harm or delay. Let the other things wait; your 2 hours are due.
5. Simplify your life. As attractive as it may seem to us to take on too many tasks and responsibilities, to try to do too much, and to own too much, find a way to simplify. Make a lifestyle change – say no to some requests, and decline some invitations. Declutter your space, organize your environment, and more importantly, get rid of all those baggage that weigh you down. Focus and prioritize. Keep things simple.
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