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Our culture makes some challenging demands on us. For example, we’re expected to strive, grind, and succeed in whatever job or career we’re in. Somehow, at the same exact time, our “personal lives” should be rich, fulfilling, healthy, and brimming with close companions. It’s as if someone forgot to tell the “work-life balance” crowd that there are only 24 in a day and sleep is a thing.

So, how do you balance your life while maintaining a job that pays enough to facilitate that balance? Obviously, there’s no singular blueprint for this task. But there are some powerful suggestions that will get you started.

How to Balance Your Life While Still Being Highly Valuable and Productive at Work

Work Boundaries 

This may end up being your foundation. It is the nature of work that it infringes on more and more of your time and energy. This gets amplified for those who work from home or perhaps are just starting to work their way up the proverbial ladder. To them, saying “no” seems like career suicide. Here are two areas to start setting and forcing boundaries:

Communication

It’s been found that at least half of all employees check for work-related emails:

  • In the evening
  • On weekends
  • When taking a sick day
  • While on vacation

Some jobs require that you’re on call. The vast majority of jobs do not. Therefore, it is vital that you establish communication boundaries as early as possible.

Taking Breaks

You are not a machine. Thus, there is no reason to feel guilty about taking breaks. Workaholics don’t have higher productivity. But they often get sick more often and report having less fulfilling private lives. So, take breaks and make sure you use them to practice some self-care.

Identify Your Priorities 

Don’t leave the work-life balance to chance. When you do, you risk losing control. Mindfully set your intentions. What’s important to you and your family? Where can you compromise? Which sacrifice will never be made? What are your deal-breakers? For example, let’s say your child has a game every week at a specific time. You are free to decide that it is non-negotiable that you attend that game (and are not checking your phone every five minutes).

Hone Your Work Style

Pay close attention to your workday behaviors. Can you be more efficient and effective within your standard job hours? Put in the effort to streamline your efforts. The more valuable and productive you are during normal work hours, the less pressure there is to do more during your time. For the record, this is not giving anyone permission to overwork themselves. As stated above, taking breaks is non-negotiable.

Shouldn’t It Be “Life-Work Balance”?

We all get lots of messages — from family, teachers, pop culture, and more — about how important work is. This is true to a degree but how important are family, health, love, and peace of mind? You can play by the rules and get promotions, but do not mistake this for happiness.

Only you can define happiness for yourself. If you choose to take a pay cut in order to work less and live more, this is your choice.  Remember, no one on their deathbed expresses regret over the times they took a day off from work. But they may grieve for all the time and energy they gave to their job.

Support and Guidance Are Available

No one expects you have all the answers. If the Life-Work Balance has you feeling vexed, I can help. Let’s connect and talk soon. Therapy might be the ideal venue for you to identify priorities and learn how to set boundaries!

You can also get the latest info by following me on Facebook.

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Therapy for Men is a practice led by Dr. Rick Pomfret which offers counseling and psychotherapy services tailored to the needs of men. Their services encompass anxiety therapy, depression therapy, relationship therapy, men’s issues and support for those navigating life transitions or divorce. With offices in San Francisco and Corte Madera, Therapy4Men provides convenient access to mental health care for men in the Bay Area and online across California.