Tag Archives: life

8 Work-Life Balance Myths

There are myths or assumptions about what the family-friendly workplace really means. Some of the commonly held myths and the corresponding reality checks are as follows:

  • Family-Friendly policies are soft HR issues, mainly for women. Policies that increase employee health and well-being, foster employee commitment and support families, positively impact everyone (employees; men and women, customers and clients, families and communities.) In some organizations, it is women who have pushed for family-friendly policies since they are usually the primary caregivers, responsible for child care, eldercare and health care as well as primarily responsible for household management (shopping, meals, laundry, cleaning etc.) and are either major contributors to family income or the primary family breadwinner. Men and women at all levels of companies, in all stages of their career development and all stages of their life cycle are seeking flexibility to achieve a better work-life balance.
  • Management will lose control. Some managers may have concerns about giving up control over their workforce by implementing supportive policies and practices, however they actually gain more control over outputs and results by giving control of time management to employees. By providing more control to their employees, managers can help establish a better working relationship. These employees, now more satisfied with their work-life balance, are more inclined to show loyalty to their manager and company. As a result, these managers will likely see a lower turnover rate in their departments.
  • Flexibility is unfair and inequitable. Some managers consider that there needs to be a “one size fits all” solution to flexibility. The reality is that everyone has different needs and so the solutions will be very personal. Different people need different forms of flexibility at different points in their lives (i.e., when they have a baby or when they want to continue their education). Other people are content to work a more traditional workweek and prefer the stability and predictability of a standard work schedule. Solutions to employee needs for flexibility should be custom fits.
  • Hours at work = results (notion of “face time”) In a traditional workplace, managers could always see their employees and so considered them to be working and productive. With employees exploring alternate ways to work such as telecommuting, managers may no longer see them. Some may have concerns about what employees are doing during the day if working from home. The keys to success are good trust, regular communication and clear performance targets.
  • Only for non-managerial positions. This was the case when flexible work options were first introduced in the 1990’s. However, as more women have moved into senior management positions and more men are juggling their careers with fatherhood, this has changed. Many companies offer their work-life balance policies to employees at all levels.
  • Participation in family-friendly policies is a career-limiting move. Research studies have shown that for most people, working a flexible work arrangement does not limit their careers, although it may slow down the career path, or reduce some options. For example, if an employee reduces their work hours, they may not be willing or interested in taking a position or promotion that requires extended travel. Employees need to assess the pros, cons and career impact when deciding whether a flexible work arrangement is for them.If however, the career impact is the result of unsupported assumptions (e.g., those who use flexible work arrangements are less committed to the company or unable to take on increased responsibility), you may need to take measures to dispel these perceptions. It is also one of the reasons, it is recommended to conduct follow-up assessments of your programs and policies. You could, for example, assess over time, the impact on promotions of those who use work-life options such as flexible work arrangements versus those in traditional work situations.
  • Hard to measure impact on bottom line. Many companies now have access to solid statistics about how family-friendly policies positively impact the bottom-line. Through employee attitude surveys, focus groups and pilot tests, senior management know that employees with lower work-family conflict have less stress and anxiety about “doing it all” and are better able to focus on their jobs and their customers.
  • It won’t work for jobs with direct customer contact. With more companies moving towards 24/7 operations, telephone call-centres and service provided at customer’s homes and offices, the need for flexibility has grown. Customers are looking for good quality service, and prefer to deal with a happy employee who is satisfied with their work.
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Improve Your Life with Time Management

Time management is fundamentally about focus. The Pareto Principle states, 80% of effort not managed or focused generates 20% of the desired output. On the other hand, 80% of desired output can be generated by 20% of effective effort. You see how much is lost or gained with well-managed time.

Time management involves scheduling appointments, goal settings, planning, to do lists and prioritizing; core skills that need to be understood to develop efficient personal productivity. These basic skills should be personalized to fit your work style. However, there is more to time management than these basics: decision making, emotional intelligence and critical thinking are also important to personal development.

Time management involves everything you do. No matter how big or small, everything counts. It’s not just to get your tasks completed on schedule. Time management should lead to a balanced life.

Time management is about getting results, not about being busy.

Time management should improve six aspects of life: physical, intellectual, social, career, emotional and spiritual.

  1. The physical aspect involves having a healthy body, less stress and fatigue.
  2. The intellectual aspect involves learning and other mental growth activities.
  3. The social aspect involves developing personal or intimate relations and being an active contributor to society.
  4. The career aspect involves school and work.
  5. The emotional aspect involves appropriate feelings and desires and manifesting them.
  6. The spiritual aspect involves a personal quest for meaning.

Having a to do list for each of these key areas is not practical, but knowing which areas of your life  are not getting enough attention is part of time management. Each aspect is part the whole. If you ignore one then you are ignoring an important part of yourself.

Personal time management is not a daunting task. It is a reasonable approach in solving problems. These steps should be a regular part of your life:

  • Set goals and review them regularly. Write them down and keep the list where you can check it easily
  • Determine what tasks are necessary by asking yourself if they are helping you achieve your goals or maintain your balanced lifestyle.
  • Use your peak time to best advantage. Know your natural energy cycle. Complete difficult tasks you have the most energy.
  • Learn to say ‘No’.
  • Reward yourself for completions.
  • Get cooperation from people who benefit from your time management efforts.
  • Don’t procrastinate. Attend to necessary things immediately.
  • Have a positive attitude and set yourself up for success.
  • Set realistic goals and break them down into manageable steps
  • Track your activities. This will help you get things in their proper perspective.

Once you integrate time management practices into your life, you increase options that provide a spectrum of solutions to personal growth. It creates more doors that opportunity can knock on.

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Personal Objectives for Life Balance

More than ever before, we play many roles in our lives.  We are workers, parents, spouses, friends, caregivers and volunteers in their communities.  We also try and make room in our lives for taking care of our own well-being.  Not surprisingly, achieving balance among all these competing priorities can be difficult.  Here in Canada 58% of people report overload associated with their many roles.

While you can’t control all of the factors that impact your work/life balance, there are some things you can control. Life is made up of several parts working together to bring the balance needed for optimal wellness:

  • Physical: nutritious food, safe water, healthy air, exercise
  • Mental: intellectual challenges, knowledge, thoughts
  • Emotional: feelings, belonging, security
  • Philosophical: authenticity, spirituality, meaning, attitudes
  • Social: relationships with others, friendships
  • Career: finances, fulfillment
  • Recreational: leisure, fun, sports

Finding the ideal balance between work and life is rare.  The nature of that balance is different for every person, and can change over time. We shouldn’t try for perfection, but constantly be aware of making choices that will benefit all aspects of our lives. Achieving work/life balance is an investment – it takes time and effort to implement. But it’s worth the effort.

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Time-Saving Tools for Busy Lives

Amazing, isn’t it? Every day, you’re given 24 hours. Some days, you feel like you’ve lived every hour. Other days, the time seems to slip through your fingers like grains of sand.

Even though time can’t be pinned down, we live in a society that tries to do just that. Schedules, timetables and deadlines are the framework of modern life. But being organized doesn’t necessarily mean living by a lot of rigid rules. It means making choices—your choices—about what’s important to you and then arranging your time and space to focus on those choices.

Take a moment to reflect on the pace of your life. Does it feel like you are rushing from task to task and worrying about how you will ever get everything done? When you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s time to pick up your organizational tools and create some time and space in your own life. Here are five easy tools to get you started.

Make it easy for employers to see what you can do for them by going a couple of steps further:

The daily planner

Many busy people find that they cannot get along without the help of their daily planner. A useful daily planner:

  • is both a calendar and a notebook
  • should be small enough to carry with you
  • should be big enough to hold your to-do list, appointments and plans
  • has a section for phone numbers and addresses
  • doesn’t have to be expensive—you can find one for around $10.

The daily planner helps prevent the urge to leave notes all over the place and keeps all your vital information together. By glancing at your daily planner each evening, you can plan the following day. You could also write out your goals in your daily planner at the beginning of each month to help you stay in touch with what’s most important to you.

The to-do list

Time management experts say that list-making is one of the most useful kinds of tools because it helps you visualize your plans. Once you have made your list, try to sort the tasks according to how important each one is. You can assign ratings or underline the most important items on your list. If you manage to get only those things done, you have still made the best use of the time available to you.

The done list

Reward yourself for all your hard work. At the end of each day, take a moment to write out or just think about your “done” list. Include all of the items on your to-do list that you’ve completed as well as other important things you did. If you’re a worrier, your done list can show you how much you have actually accomplished.

A place for everything

This well-known saying has been around a long time because it’s true: A place for everything and everything in its place. When you think of all the time spent frantically hunting for your keys or your wallet or the bill that needs to be paid today, it really makes sense to organize your living space. This may take some effort at first, but putting things in their proper place can become a habit before you know it. Try telling yourself: don’t put it down—put it away. This simple rule works wonders.

Escape from the phone and TV

This may be the hardest thing to do, but it can make a big difference in the time you have to spend on more important things. You can start by keeping track of the time you spend in one week in front of the television—the number of hours may surprise you. When you think of how much time in a month or even a year is spent watching TV, you may decide it’s time to make some changes. You might decide to turn off the TV while you’re eating dinner. Or you may choose to make certain days of the week TV-free. The extra time can be spent with friends or on hobbies or maybe taking a course at a local college.

The same strategies can be used for deciding when to use the phone and when not to. You can choose to take calls when you have the time to talk. If you don’t have an answering machine, you can unplug your phone or turn down the ringer when you don’t want to take calls.

Making time, saving energy

Take some time to find out which time-saving tools are right for you. You can sometimes make very simple changes in your life and discover that you had much more time available than you thought. Then, you can effectively use the time you do have to accomplish what’s most important to you.

From ALIS

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10 Ways to Slow Down

Do you have days when you feel life is rushing by at breakneck speed? Maybe your whole life feels that way. Here are 10 ways to slow it down and help you keep things in perspective:

  • Stop multi-tasking. Computers multi-task by doing several things at once When people try to multi-task, they end up doing everything poorly.
  • Turn off your television. Try going for a full week without turning it on. You will discover that you suddenly have a lot more leisure time.
  • Ignore the telephone. You don’t have to answer it every time it rings. If the phone interrupts you in the midst of doing something, let the answering machine pick it up. Most of the calls will be from telemarketers anyway. ;)
  • Sit. Do it for a while; a half hour. Don’t do anything else. Just relax and let your mind drift. If you start obsessing about your job or worrying about tomorrow, stop and refocus on relaxing.
  • Listen to music. Don’t make music merely background noise to another task. Sit and listen to music without doing anything else.
  • Keep a journal. Take a few minutes each day to write your thoughts. Describe something that happened to you that day. You will develop a better understanding of yourself.
  • Take up a hobby. Do you like to paint, take photographs, restore cars? Why not do it now Lose yourself in your passion.
  • Have some quality recreation time: with your kids, your partner, a friend or your dog. Whether playing tag in the yard, going for a walk or even video games with your children, have some fun.
  • Have a conversation. Head out to the coffee shop with a friend Take the time to really listen to someone else, to hear their thoughts and share yours.
  • Live life. Pay attention to what you’re doing. Don’t gobble down your meal as you rush to your next commitment. Take time to savour and enjoy. As you drive from one appointment to the next, enjoy the view—even in an industrial park. Look for things you’ve never noticed  before. Get the most out of everything you do.
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How to Manage Work Life Balance

Take this Work/Life Balance quiz from the Canadian Mental Health Association. It will open in a new window. Once you have your results, come back here for some tips to help you manage the balance between work and life.

In Life

  • Decide what is important. If you do not have a clear sense of your personal values, goals and priorities, you will not be able to determine which activities are important to furthering your life plan.
  • Eliminate the unnecessary. Once you have a clear picture of your life plan, drop those things that do not move your goals forward. Learn to say no!
  • Protect Your Goals and Priorities. Everyone will have an opinion as to how you should be living your life. Listening to opinions is fine, being dictated to is not. Live the life you want, not the one your parents or best friends or anyone else thinks you should be living.
  • Don’t go it alone. Get the support of family and friends. Give your partner permission to remind you when things seem to be getting out of balance. Better yet, your partner should be involved in developing your life plan.

At Work

  • Schedule brief breaks for yourself throughout the day. Your productivity and effectiveness will increase if you take short breaks every couple of hours. You will get more accomplished.
  • At the end of each day, set your priorities for the following day. Be realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have available.
  • Only respond to email once or twice a day. Then, shut off your email program to avoid being distracted as messages come in.
  • Make a distinction between work and the rest of your life. Protect your private time by turning off electronic communications.   Don’t be available 24/7.
  • Address concerns about deadlines and deliverables early. As soon as you see that a deadline is unrealistic, communicate your concern to your employer – don’t wait until the deadline passes.
  • Take all of your allotted vacation time. Taking vacation allows you to come back to work refreshed and more productive.
  • Learn to say no!

At Home

  • Create a buffer between work and home. After work, take a brief walk, do a crossword puzzle, or listen to some music before beginning the evening’s routine.
  • Decide what chores can be shared or let go. Determine which household chores are critical and which can be done by someone else.  Let the rest go.
  • Exercise. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time, you’ll feel more energized and refreshed.
  • Create and implement a household budget. Start by setting aside some money from each pay cheque for the future.
  • Make healthy food choices. Healthy eating will gives you and your family more energy.
  • Pursue a hobby. Either with friends or family or for some quality time on your own.
  • Learn to say no!

In Your Community

  • Make choices. Social, community and volunteer obligations pull us in many directions. Choose the ones that are most fulfilling and learn to say ‘no’ to the rest.
  • Manage expectations. Be clear at the outset about how much time or support you can contribute to community organizations or your children’s school events.
  • Learn to say no!
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