Among the essential ingredients of a balanced life are meaningful activity, physical and mental health, satisfying relationships and peace of mind. To achieve that balance, you must successfully juggle the demands of your work, personal life, family and relationships.
”If you're spending too much time working, and your personal time disappears, it's likely you'll become exhausted, stressed and irritable,” says Bee Epstein–Shepherd, Ph.D., a psychologist in Carmel, Calif. ”Each of us has an average of 112 waking hours a week in which to satisfy all of our responsibilities. The more successful we are at completing our work and taking time for ourselves on a regular basis, the more often we'll feel satisfied and in control of our lives.”
Dr. Epstein–Shepherd says you should do three things every morning to start your workday with a sense of balance and purpose:
•List your daily goals.
•Determine your top priorities to plan your day.
”When setting your goals for the day, ask yourself, 'If only one thing could be done today, which activity would it be?' The answer should be your top priority,” she says. ”To build your list, ask yourself, 'If only one more thing could be done today, what should it be?' It's best to prioritize your list according to importance, not how easily a task can be completed.”
You may find you feel out of balance when your workspace is disorganized. The following organizing system can make it easier for you to find things you need when you need them:
Arrange a specific place for files and tools and put them back after you use them.
Don't use your desktop for storage. It should hold only those items you use every day.
Create a workable filing system to avoid paperwork pileup.
Use color coding. It makes any item easier to find.
Don't save everything you think you might need someday. Clutter makes it more difficult to find what you really need.
During the last 10 minutes of every workday, make a list of what you have accomplished. ”Give yourself credit for what you get done each day, and you'll go home with a sense of completion instead of frustration about what you didn't get done,” Dr. Epstein–Shepherd says.
Then, outline what you need to tackle tomorrow.
Finally, make a list of the work–related problems you could be taking home. ”Then tear up the list and throw it away to rid your mind of unfinished business and worries,” she says. ”Doing so will help you make a clean transition to your personal and home life.”
The greatest challenge for many of us is to carve out time for ourselves despite the unceasing demands of work, family and relationships. ”But it's imperative you make time for rest and relaxation,” Dr. Epstein–Shepherd says.
Begin by setting aside the equivalent of an hour a day in which you do things you want to do. You can schedule that hour before or after work. Treat these appointments with yourself with as much respect as you would a meeting with a client or supervisor. Studies have found that people who take time for physical and mental rejuvenation accomplish more and are happier than those who don't take the time.
Creative people often get their best ideas while taking a walk, gardening or taking part in activities not related to work. ”People who use their evenings, weekends and vacations for personal rejuvenation are more energetic and productive at work and play because they're living a life that is in balance,” Dr. Epstein–Shepherd says.
Communicate For Success
However you try to climb the ladder of success, communication will help boost you to the top.
”People do business with people they know, like and trust, and communication provides the data that creates rapport,” says Susan RoAne, author of ”What Do I Say Next? Talking Your Way to Business and Social Success.” ”Nobody achieves success alone. You need to reach out to others and develop a network of people and resources.”
Ms. RoAne suggests these pathways to increasing your communication skills.
Learn to network
Befriend people in different departments within your company by introducing yourself to them and by inviting a different co–worker to lunch each week. Meet new people in your community by joining associations, getting involved in community projects and attending social gatherings.
Make the most of small talk
”The best mode of communication is plain old conversation. The goal isn't to wow people with brilliant commentary; it's to make them comfortable with us. Finding commonality via conversation is how to do that,” says Ms. RoAne.
Ask about people's hobbies, vacations, pets and family. Find out where they're from; you may know people in their hometowns. The object is to find something in common.
”Good things don't come to those who wait; they come to those who initiate,” says Ms. RoAne.
If you're shy at social gatherings, introduce yourself to people and make them feel comfortable. There are two parts to mingling –– being interesting and being interested.
It helps to be interesting, whether you're talking to one person or giving a speech to a group. Boredom never attracts anyone.
Ms. RoAne suggests you ”read your hometown newspaper daily, as well as a national paper. And know what's going on in your industry and your clients' companies.”
Give your opinions about something by starting with, ”I think,” ”It seems to me that...” or ”My opinion is” so you don't sound dogmatic.
Also, in your conversations, include short personal stories about your own interesting experiences so people can get to know you better.
Listen, listen, listen. Most people want someone to listen to them and make them feel important. Listening demonstrates your respect and admiration.
Show your interest by responding to what's being said with questions such as ”How did you accomplish...?” or ”What was most exciting about...?”
Use the journalists tools of ”Who,” ”What,” ”When,” ”Where” and ”How” to keep the conversation flowing. Add your own related experiences.
A smile is the universal body language of acceptance. People don't like to feel rejected, and a genuine smile makes them feel at ease. Add some enthusiasm, and you'll create a spark of positive energy that will be hard to resist.
Keep in touch
Greeting cards, personal notes and short e–mail messages can keep your name in the minds of those you've met. If you keep in touch at least four times a year, you'll be doing better than most. Then, when the need arises, you'll have a network of resources to give you information, guidance and encouragement.
Wellness Library Health Ink and Vitality Communications © 2012
How to Use Your EAP
When help is needed call 1–800–433–2320 . The intake staff will ask for your name, employer and a brief description of your presenting concern. If an emergency exists you will be given immediate assistance. If your situation is not an emergency, you will be offered telephone assistance and/or in–person sessions to complete an assessment and make a referral for treatment if needed.
Meetings with your counselor are completely confidential. Your employer will not know you have used the EAP. No one will be provided any information about you without your written consent. Exceptions would occur only in the event of you being considered dangerous to yourself or someone else.
At the first appointment you should be prepared to give the counselor some background information to assist in formulating an action plan. Many people find it helpful to prepare a list of things they wish to discuss at each session.