Balancing the Weight of Life and Work Demands

Women, the balancer of it all, the glue that hold it all together, the center of many families and you know what? We are exhausted! And while many of us feel we must choose between a successful career or fulfilling personal life I have learned to balance the weight of life and all of the demands that we as working women must meet. Sometimes we are overwhelmed and overworked. This can cause stress and ultimately affect our happiness and fulfillment but only if we let it. Work life integration is the name of the game ladies! When you align yourself with the right opportunities where your personal and professional time is respected and you set ground rules and expectations for yourself and your team you really can have it all guilt free. I am no rookie I have been managing my own personal life and career for over 20 years. There is truly a method to the madness. Here are my 5 work life integration principles to live by:

Think Ahead
Is it more important to spend time with family or finish a report that’s due in an hour? Think ahead and weigh your options. If spending time with family is a priority, finish the report later or get it done before. Yes, you always have a choice. By managing your options, you can plan all aspects of your life accordingly. To fit more things into your schedule, you can start your day earlier, prioritize what needs to get done now and finish the rest tomorrow. Work-life balance must be planned. It doesn’t just happen; realizing your role in its success takes prioritizing, understanding and a positive mentality.

Overcome Challenges
You thought ahead and prioritized, but then you were thrown a curve ball. You intended to have dinner with family, but an impromptu meeting was called and there was no way you could avoid it. What do you do? Stay calm, breathe and maintain your realistic approach as you overcome this new challenge to work-life balance. Attend the meeting with the understanding that your goals will be back on track tomorrow. There will be road blocks, bumps, dead ends and often times, things will fly at you when you never saw them coming. There’s no way to prepare for blind challenges, but knowing that we can overcome them helps to ease the transition from panic to patience.

Quality vs. Quantity
In today’s technology-obsessed society, we are constantly connected and the boundaries between work and home have become blurred. It’s important to take a step back from our hectic lives for a concentrated dose of inner peace and self-awareness. If you have vacation days at work and you haven’t used them, USE them! Make a conscious choice to leave work behind, whether it’s leaving your laptop at home or keeping your phone on airplane mode until you return from your time away. According to a study published in The Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, distancing yourself from work is important for employee recovery and health—so clock out and dive into some YOU time! Quality time with yourself and the people you care about is more important than quantity time spent enjoying life’s pleasures. When you get back to work, you’ll be refreshed with a clear mind ready to accomplish your goals.

Learn to Say “No”
Say it with me . . . “No.” Many women find it difficult to say “no” to requests in the workplace without feeling guilty or jeopardizing professional relationships. Why do we have such a problem saying NO? It’s simple. As leaders and achievers, we want to do it all. We may be superior women, but we are not superwomen.

While I was a practicing attorney, I was working 60-70 hours a week. As a Senior Assistant District Attorney, I was responsible for caseloads of immense volume and importance that, literally, would decide another person’s life and liberty. I sacrificed seeing friends and family, I developed bad habits that would take years to correct and I even sacrificed my health while trying to do it all. It took some time, but I learned to say no. In fact, I’ve mastered the ability to say no. One of my mentors taught me a great technique to relieve the stress of trying to do too much, which has become my favorite way to manage being inundated with questions, emails and requests — I ask myself three questions:

• Does this require a response?
• Does this require a response from me?
• Does this require a response from me right now?

Make Your Health and Self a Priority
Let’s face it, if Momma ain’t healthy, ain’t nobody healthy. In the midst of work-life craziness, we often miss the most important aspect of our lives: ourselves. An article published by the Mayo Clinic states that achieving a healthy work-life balance is important for your physical and mental health. It’s time to look forward and think about where you want to be five . . . 10 . . . 20+ years from now. If your answer is, “alive,” then you’re on the right track. It’s time to choose to live healthy and be in complete control of your life and body. Take it from me—a heart disease survivor—there’s nothing scarier than the thought of not knowing, or even worse, not living. Taking steps toward living a healthy lifestyle makes all the difference.

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