Tag: work life balance

Strategies to Create a Better Work-life Balance

Parents with responsibilities at work and at home commonly struggle to find balance between these two often conflicting sets of obligations. Surveys have indicated that working professionals who work less are more likely to be happy with their work-life balance than those who burn the midnight oil at work, but for many adults, working less is not always an option.

A 2012 report from New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development found that the percentage of working professionals who were very satisfied or satisfied with their work-life balance declined as their hours worked increased. Canada’s General Social Survey discovered similar results, noting that, while the majority of working parents were satisfied with their work-life balance, those who were not most frequently cited their dissatisfaction at not having enough time for family life as the main culprit behind their discontent.

Creating a better work-life balance is an ongoing commitment, and even working parents who employ the following strategies may find they need to periodically tweak their routines so they can fulfill their obligations at home and at the office.

Schedule family time.

  • Since working professionals unhappy with their work-life balance often cite lack of family time as the reason for that dissatisfaction, finding time for family may be the key to changing that outlook. Schedule time for family just as you schedule the rest of your daily commitments. Listing family dinners or activities in your daily schedule will ensure you don’t mistakenly schedule other activities during family time.

Employ technology where possible.

  • Some working parents may feel as though technology has made it harder than ever to leave work at the office. But while smartphones, tablets and other devices may mean you’re never too far away from work, technology also can be used to create more time with loved ones. Employ an app such as FaceTime to eat lunch with your spouse or chat with your children each day. Such interactions may not be as enjoyable as face-to-face interactions, but building them into your day can help you stay in touch with family and provide a welcome respite from busy workdays.

Use your vacation days.

  • A recent study from Project: Time Off, a national movement aimed at highlighting the important role that time off from work can play in the lives of professionals, 55 percent of Americans did not use their full allotment of vacation days in 2015. That translated to 658 million unused vacation days, 222 million of which could not be carried over into 2016. Professionals who want to create a better work-life balance can examine their vacation day usage and resolve to use them all if they are not already. Parents can use vacation days on national holidays when schools are closed so they can squeeze in family time even when they are not going on trips.

Parents who put their minds to it can create a more fulfilling work-life balance. WT175976
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How to Avoid Unhealthy Habits at the Office

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, working professionals spend an average of 8.5 hours per day at work. Many professionals spend much of their time at work sitting down in front of a computer, which can be detrimental to long-term health.

Staying sedentary for long periods of time can contribute to a host of health ailments, including being overweight and obese. But professionals who work in offices can take various steps to ensure all that time at work is not having an adverse affect on their overall health.

· Get out of your seat. Modern workplaces are built around sitting, so workers must find some time to stand up and stretch. Sitting too long can compromise posture and lead to craning of the neck for looking at the computer screen. Get out of your chair, walk around the office and get the blood moving in your body.

· Pack your lunch. Bringing lunch to work puts you in greater control over the foods you are eating. You can pack a healthy and diverse selection of foods. Don’t forget to also bring some snacks that offer a healthy mix of protein and carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up. Otherwise, you may succumb to the temptation of the lunchroom snack machine.

· Take frequent breaks. Stale air inside an office environment can make you feel fatigued and less productive. Also, spending too much time behind your desk may contribute to feelings of stress and tension. Use every opportunity possible to get up and leave your office. Instead of sending an instant message or making a phone call to a coworker, visit him or her in person. Use your lunch hour to get outside instead of eating at your desk. Plan a brief, mid-afternoon walk outside of your office to clear your mind and get some fresh air.

· Disinfect surfaces often. Oftentimes, when one person at the office gets sick, many others soon follow. Colds and the flu can spread rapidly in close quarters. Keep your desk drawer stocked with some alcohol swabs or disinfecting spray and routinely clean your keyboard, mouse, touchscreen, and desk surfaces. You also can wipe off door handles and knobs around the office if you want to be proactive.

· Rest your eyes. Close your eyes and look away from the computer monitor every 20 minutes. Focusing on objects of varying distances can help keep the eyes strong and reduce fatigue.

It’s not difficult to remain healthy at work. Breaks, exercise and watching what you eat can help.

How to Find More Time for Family

Balancing professional responsibilities with commitments at home is challenging for many working parents, the majority of whom admit to feeling stressed about juggling work and family life. A 2013 survey from the Pew Research Center found that 56 percent of working mothers and 50 percent of working fathers find it difficult to balance their personal and professional responsibilities. While the same survey found that only 23 percent of mothers feel they spend too little time with their children, those figures doubled for fathers.

Finding more time for family can seem impossible, especially as children get older and get more involved in school and extracurricular activities. Kids growing up and getting more active in school and in their social lives tends to coincide with parents advancing in their careers and taking on more responsibilities at work. But no matter how hectic family schedules become, parents and kids can work together to find more time for one another.

· Commit to nightly family dinners. Family dinners do more than just ensure kids are eating healthy meals each night. In its “The Importance of Family Dinners VIII” report, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that, compared to teens who have fewer than three family dinners per week, teens who ate dinner with their families five or more times per week were one a half times more likely to say their parents knew a great deal or a fair amount about what’s really going on in their lives. The report also found teens who say their parents know very little or nothing at all about their lives were one and a half times more likely to have used marijuana and one and a half times more likely to have used alcohol than teens who said their parents know a great deal or a fair amount about their lives. Nightly family dinners need not include elaborate meals, but parents who find time to have dinner with their children at least five nights per week may end up knowing their kids better and helping their sons and daughters avoid risky behaviors.

· Inquire with your employer about telecommuting. Telecommuting can be very family-friendly, allowing parents to cut out potentially lengthy commutes and spend more time with their children as a result. George Washington University in Washington, D.C. cites encouraging a better work-life balance for its employees in support of its telecommuting policy. The university notes that employees who have a better balance between their personal and professional lives may benefit from reduced stress and stronger overall health, which benefits the university by reducing healthcare costs. Parents who want to find more time for their families should inquire about telecommuting. Even if it’s just one or two days a week, the benefits can be considerable for both employee and employer.

· Move closer to work. Commuting consumes a considerable amount of time. In its 2015 ThankYou Premier Commuter Index, Citi found that the average commute in the United States is 45 minutes, and that those commutes cost workers nearly $2,600 per year. By moving closer to their offices, workers can instantly create more time for their families and potentially save themselves considerable amounts of money.

Parents need not reinvent the wheel to find more time for their family, which can greatly benefit kids and parents alike. FP165062

Work-Life Balance

Balancing work and family life is a major challenge for many professionals. Many established professionals find it stressful to juggle the demands of successful careers with the obligations they have to their families, and regaining that balance once it has been lost only adds to that stress.

Part of the difficulty of balancing work and family life is that the challenge is ongoing. The threat of losing your work-life balanceis never too far away, but there are steps men and women can take to regain that balance once it’s been lost.

* Start documenting your activities. No one operates at 100 percent efficiency all the time, but balancing obligations at work with those at home is especially difficult when time is routinely lost to trivial matters or tasks at work that can be delegated to others. These time-consuming tasks have a tendency to add up, but professionals rarely take note of the smaller tasks or distractions that cost them time. Start documenting your activities on a daily basis, jotting down how each hour of your day is spent, both at home and at work. Do this for several weeks, after which time a pattern will likely develop, and you can see where you are wasting time and where you are being most efficient with your time. When you sit down to examine your notes, look for ways to free up time without sacrificing the quality of your work or the quality of time you spend with your family. Don’t be afraid to make changes.

* Don’t go it alone. Teamwork is important at home and around the office and can help overburdened professionals regain their work-life balance. If you tend to go it alone in the office, reach out to your colleagues more often, seeking their help on projects and offering your help in return. This can drastically cut back on the hours you spend in the office, giving you more quality time at home. But you also can work with your family to free up more time. Assign tasks around the house so you aren’t doing chores during the time you do have at home. Split cooking duties with your spouse or even the kids if they’re old enough and delegate other household tasks as well. Such tasks can be tackled while you’re at work so the family can spend more time together each night and on weekends.

* Stop emulating Atlas. In Greek mythology, Atlas was condemned to standing at the edge of the Earth and holding the weight of Uranus on his shoulders. Many professionals can no doubt empathize with Atlas, even if taking such weight on their shoulders was self-inflicted. Regaining work-life balance may require taking some of that weight off of your shoulders by learning to respectfully decline extra projects around the office or in your personal life. You can still pitch in on special projects at work without spearheading them, much like you can still spend time with your kids at the ballpark even if you aren’t their coach. Cutting back on your obligations is a great way to reduce stress and free up time to focus on the things that mean the most to you.

* Think outside the box. If you have examined your daily activities and commitments but can’t seem to find any ways to regain your work-life balance, start looking for unique ways to make the time you spend at work and the time you spend at home more proportionate. Consider telecommuting one or two days per week to free up time to spend with your family. If moving is an option, consider moving closer to your office so you aren’t spending so much time commuting to and from work each day. Even if you have seemingly exhausted all options, chances are strong there is a solution to help you regain your work-life balance. But sometimes that balance requires a little creativity and some give-and-take with both your employer and your family.    [LP143954]