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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Success Takes Practice

When it comes to undertaking projects I’m a great starter, but have problems with the follow-through or completion. I want things to be perfect first time around and hate going back: editing, improving, learning, etc. This article reminds us that accomplishing success—in any field or endeavour—requires work.

by Della Menechella

As a speaker and trainer, people often approach me after one of my programs to tell me how excited they are about the strategies they have learned and how they plan to put these ideas into action. When I connect with these people later on and ask how the techniques are working for them, I usually get answers such as “I really planned to use them but then things got so crazy that I never had the chance.” or “I tried them once and wasn’t successful so I gave up.”

Success, like anything else, takes application and practice. Anyone who plays a sport or has achieved expertise in any skill knows that it doesn’t happen the first time. They learn what to do and then apply it over and over again until it becomes easy and natural for them. They would never think of expecting to improve if they didn’t apply what they had learned. However, they think different rules apply to success strategies.

If you want to make a change in your life or career, you must work with positive ideas until you can apply them effortlessly. They need to become part of your operating system. The following tips can help you do this more easily.

  • Work On One Thing At A Time – Often people want to change many things and they try to do it all at the same time. This can be overwhelming. Choose one idea and work with it until you gain mastery. Then you can work with another idea until you are successful with it and so on. In this way you can make changes without a lot of stress.
  • Determine What The Benefit Will Be To You – It’s great to want to change, but if you aren’t aware of how you are going to benefit as a result of the change, it is easy to get discouraged. How will achieving this change make your life better? What value will it bring to you? It is much easier to stay motivated when you have the answers to these questions.
  • Recognize That You Might Initially Feel Uncomfortable – Sometimes people give up working with a new idea because it feels uncomfortable. They don’t want to deal with these negative feelings. Any time you try something new it feels awkward. This is a temporary situation. As you work with the new idea it will begin to feel more natural for you. It is all part of the learning process.
  • Commit To Using The Ideas For 30 Days – It is very easy to give up if you don’t achieve instantaneous success. Make a commitment to apply the idea consistently for 30 days. If something happens to interrupt the process, then start again with your 30-day commitment. If you make the commitment at the beginning of the process, you are more likely to achieve your goal.
  • Appreciate Your Successes – As you work with the new idea, recognize your successes. Maybe you are trying to deal more effectively with stress. Congratulate yourself when you remember to breathe deeply when you feel your stress starting to increase. When we recognize our small successes it helps us achieve bigger successes.
  • Be Patient With Yourself – Don’t be self critical if you find yourself occasionally falling back into old patterns. You have been operating in that manner for years. It is going to take time before you fully integrate the new idea into your life. As you work with it on a consistent basis, you will find that you revert to old patterns less and less frequently.

Like anything of value that we achieve in life, success takes practice. Make a commitment to put in the practice time that is required so you can experience the wonderful rewards that success brings.

About The AuthorDella Menechella is a speaker, author, and trainer who inspires people to achieve greater success from the inside out. She is a contributing author to Thriving in the Midst of Change and the author of the videotape The Twelve Commandments of Goal Setting. She can be reached at della@dellamenechella.com. Subscribe to free Peak Performance Pointers e-zine – send blank e-mail tomailto:subscribe@dellamenechella.com.
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A self-management checklist

Everybody faces challenges in managing certain aspects of their lives. Someone who loves to go trail riding on a bicycle will have no problems motivating themselves to exercise. However, putting aside time to sit and read might be problematic. On the other hand, the reader might have problems putting down the book and getting active.

This self-management checklist can be applied to any area of your life where you need to gain some control.

  1. Set specific goals. You can’t measure achievement if you don’t know where you’re going. Set specific goals such as: I’ll walk for 30 minutes per day; or I’ll write a 1,000 words each day; or I’ll lose 20 pounds.
  2. Set specific times. You need to determine when you are going to accomplish your goals. Work with specific times; whether it’s a deadline for a one-off project or regular times for on-going behaviour.
  3. Track your progress. Write it down. You can use a journal, a calendar, a graph or any other form that works for you. Make sure you track both your successes and failures so you can refine your systems.
  4. Set rewards or penalties. You’ll need some motivation to help you move forward. Set small rewards to mark the completion of small steps. Set larger rewards to mark major accomplishments. You might even set penalties for not reaching goals. You could, for example, make a donation to a food bank every time your weight went up instead of down.
  5. Take small steps. If you’ve been sitting in front of the TV for ten years, don’t try and run a marathon tomorrow. Changing a habit takes time and you need to start slowly.
  6. Break it down into pieces. Regardless of your readiness, if the task seems overwhelming, you may never get started. Break down large tasks in to small, logical and manageable pieces.
  7. Monitor time increments. Use a timer to help you stay on track. Set it to the best interval to help you measure your progress.
  8. Share your goals. Telling someone what you hope to accomplish can add another level of motivation. It’s easier to fool ourselves than to fool others. Tell someone what your goals and your deadlines are; get them to check on you to see if you met the goal.
  9. Have a work buddy. It’s not just enough to share your goals with someone, you need to have a buddy that can meet with regularly. Keep your goals on someone else’s agenda. This should give you an added sense of responsibility and motivation to reach your goals.
  10. Review with your buddy. Have your buddy do more than review accomplishment. Review the written track of your regular progress. They might spot patterns you don’t see and give you some help for getting back or keeping on track.
  11. Eliminate distractions. Reading through e-mail may seem productive, but it’s not going to help you read three chapters of a book. If need be, turn off the phone, shut down the computer and throw the television in the garbage.
  12. Review and rework your system. Your self-management plan may not work the first time you try it. There will be times when your self-management process falls apart. These steps are not static, but need to change and grow with you. Make time to review your process and see what changes can be made.

Some people look at self-management techniques as cumbersome, getting in the way of productivity. The truth is, if you look at successful and productive people, you’ll find some type of system guiding them. Give it a try.

7 Reasons to Volunteer

Once a month, my wife and I volunteer to visit a seniors home and conduct a church service for them. Periodically we wonder about our time commitment to these folks, but their gratitude each month helps us see the importance of being there.

If you want to make a difference in your community and in your own life, volunteering is the way to go. Here are seven reasons why you should make the commitment.

  1. To give something back to others – First and foremost, volunteering is about giving. Agencies and organization that require volunteer services are generally involved in improving society and the world around them. When you volunteer, you contribute to their efforts to improve life.
  2. To learn something about yourself – You might find out you have a knack for relating to seniors. You might have compassion when working with people during disasters. When volunteering puts you in new situations, you discover skills and traits you may not have used before.
  3. Because you have a passion – You love animals, so you get involved with an animal shelter. You’re concerned about the environment, so you join a wetlands cleaning project. You practice magic tricks in your spare time, so you entertain at a children’s hospital. Put your passion to work.
  4. To develop new skills – Get involved with Habitat for Humanity and learn how to put up drywall. Volunteer in a suicide-prevention program and learn crisis intervention. Many volunteer organizations provide training for the skills you will need to use.
  5. To have some fun – An afternoon of baseball as a Big Brother will be far more entertaining than sitting on the couch watching baseball.
  6. To improve your resume – If you’re a web designer and you volunteer to build a web site, you have a new entry in your portfolio. Volunteering in your skill areas will add experience to your resume.
  7. To feel good about yourself – Hopefully, when you decide to volunteer, it’s not with ulterior, self-serving motives. However, when you sincerely give of yourself to others, it’s amazing how good you start to feel about your own life.

It’s time to do something! Get out there and volunteer.

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