Do you ever struggle to balance the different parts of your life while pursing your goals? Do you worry that in order to grow your business, your family life will suffer? Maybe it’s time to take some advice from the experts and learn some timehacks to leave work at work and get back to living and loving your personal life.
How this Millennial learned to keep her work at work and finally go on that date night with her husband
Megan Rice, 31, works late every night as a health care consultant in Madison, Wisconsin, managing 65 people. She brings work home. She thinks about work when she’s not working, so she’s always distracted around her husband, which makes them both feel terrible. “He says, ‘I don’t feel like you’re home when you’re home,’” Rice said.
She has no idea how to get a handle on the sheer volume of work that comes at her, fast-paced with tight deadlines, nor how to master her perfectionism and fear of failure.
“I’m very passionate about what I do,” she said. “But I would like to break the habit of working long hours. I wouldn’t consider myself an efficient worker. I’ve lived my whole life being an over-achiever who has put work before other more important priorities. I’d like to have a family one day, and I fear if I don’t cut down my time at work, I’ll carry bad habits into parenthood and not make time for my children.”
It can become a difficult cycle to balance work and family. We all want to work hard enough that our families have good lives and our children see examples of hard work. But at what point does it go from an example of hard work, to a distraction from our family and a detriment to those relationships? There is a way to find balance, and at it’s core this comes down to being mindful of how you spend your time and making sure you’re present in the moment, wherever you are.
Rice worked with coach and stress reduction expert Melissa Heisler, of It’s My Life in Arlington Heights, Ill. Heisler suggested four timehacks:
1. CLEAR YOUR HEAD
Rice not only had a lot of data and information at work coming at her at all times, when she wasn’t working, she was also constantly listening to podcasts or music, filling her head with more and more information. That left her feeling distracted. Heisler suggestedcreating “gray” space of no new information to clear her head. She proposed Rice walk or bike to work and let her mind wander. Or listen to a guided meditation to get out of her head, into the moment and just breathe.
2. STRUCTURE THE DAY
Rice was constantly interrupted at work. She incessantly checked her emails, texts and instant messages and responded immediately. “The amount of work has made her areactionary firefighter instead of being in control of her day and her work,” Heisler said.
Heisler suggested that Rice begin everyday with a short, 15 minute meeting with an assistant to plan the day together, outlining what they want to work on, checking them off as they go, and serving as accountability partners for each other to keep them on task. “Having a plan,” Heiser said, “will give Rice’s daystructure so she’s not always in reactionary mode.”
Heisler also proposed she check her emails and texts once every 90 minutes, and set aside a block of time, not just to look at them, but to touch once: Do, Delegate, Delete or Schedule a reminder, rather than leaving them in the inbox indefinitely and losing track of them.
She suggested Rice schedule time to work on big projects, so they wouldn’t back up to the deadline because of all the daily interruptions and be done in a rush, and to let co-workers know the times she would and wouldn’t be available, again to minimize disruptions.
As someone who’s always struggled with anxiety, Rice noticed that she was so stressed out every day, that her stomach was always clenched and she took short sips of breath without realizing it. Heisler suggested just taking a moment every now and then to take a deep breath. That can shift the brain out of feeling under threat in fight or flight mode, and help not only calm Rice down but, enable her to think more clearly and get more done.
4. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
“Megan’s biggest challenge is her sense of responsibility toward her job, clients, consultants, and her husband,” Heisler said. “Putting other’s needs and happiness above hers will hold her back from completely releasing her stress.” She suggested Rice fill out a worksheet called I Am More Than My Job.
What are some of your tricks to keep work and family spaces separate?