Navigating Work-Life Balance and 10 Strategies to Transition from Chaos to Clarity. We only have a finite amount of time each day to work, spend time with our families, and engage in activities that make us happy. That’s why it is important to implement strategies that will help us live our best life – in and away from the office.
The reality is many of us have so much on our plates that it’s difficult to keep up. From family obligations to project deadlines, our responsibilities can push us to the brink of mental – and physical – exhaustion.
With the long hours and high expectations that come along with a successful legal career, we must consistently practice ways to manage daily stressors.
And when it comes to stress, lawyers have plenty of it. In fact, a recent article by Forbes magazine suggests that stress, loneliness and overcommitment can increase suicidal ideation among lawyers.
Consider the following statistics about attorneys:
- 28% experience depression
- 19% grapple with anxiety
- 21% have alcohol use problems
- 11% abuse drugs
While practicing law is often rewarding, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the chaos of our demanding careers while neglecting our own needs, relationships and passions. That’s why we need practical strategies to keep our professional and personal lives in check.
Achieving work-life balance has to be more than just a talking point at professional conferences and in career-related articles. As lawyers, it is essential to our well-being that we implement ways to make our lives work for us – not against us.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
Ask 10 different people to explain what work-life balance means to them and you’ll get 10 different answers. The definition of work-life balance is open to interpretation. Here’s what I mean.
If you’re a new mom, achieving work-life balance could mean that you have enough time each day to build a satisfying career without missing out on your baby’s developmental milestones.
If you are approaching retirement age, work-life balance could mean carving out more time in your week for leisure activities without sacrificing your performance at work.
Contrary to popular belief, achieving work-life balance isn’t a ‘one-time’ fix. We can’t just make a few changes and expect them to magically transform our lives forever.
Instead, it might be helpful to think of balancing our lives in terms of a cycle of seasons that must be tweaked as our circumstances change.
Life-changing events such as having children, caring for aging parents and recovering from an illness require us to shift our priorities.
Since each of us is in different stages of our lives, we must each define what work-life balance means for us individually.
Is It Really Possible to Achieve Work-Life Balance?
The concept of work-life balance has become a hot topic in our fast-paced world. This is no surprise, given the increasing work stress, soaring resignation rates, and the collective quest to discover fulfillment amidst the relentless demands of a career in the legal profession.
Is work-life balance an attainable goal, or is it just a myth that keeps us on a treadmill striving to create the perfect life?
Deep down, none of us aspire to become enslaved by our work. We all yearn to embrace life to its fullest extent and believe that by pursuing a state of “balance,” we can discover inner peace, contentment, and perhaps even joy.
If we have so many responsibilities, how can we achieve balance between our career and our personal lives?
What actions can we take to make peace with our full lives while finding ways to minimize its stressors and carve out time for things that we truly enjoy?
10 Ways to Find Balance in Work and Life
If you know anything about me, you know that I won’t discuss a problem without offering workable solutions. After all, what’s the use of talking about issues if we aren’t willing to take the necessary actions to resolve them? Let’s explore 10 things you can start doing today to find balance in work and life.
Tip #1: Set Clear Priorities
What do you want your life to look like? How do you want to feel each day as you’re taking care of your personal and professional responsibilities?
Many times our lives become chaotic because we aren’t clear about what we want. Or we’re operating from an old playbook that’s no longer relevant for our lives.
Setting clear priorities requires us to take an honest look at what is – and isn’t – working in our lives and take inventory of things that are important to realizing our goals.
It is a crucial step towards achieving work-life balance because setting clear goals can help us stay on task and get organized.
Tip #2: Establish Boundaries
Establishing boundaries allows us to create a clear separation between our work and personal life, preventing one from encroaching upon the other. By setting boundaries, we can protect our personal time, relationships, and well-being, ensuring that we have dedicated moments for relaxation, self-care, and cherished activities outside of work.
Consider setting boundaries for every area of your life. This includes physical, emotional and mental
Here are examples of things you can do to establish healthy boundaries at work.
- If you feel uncomfortable hugging colleagues or friends when you greet them, shake their hand instead.
- Set aside a few days to eat lunch alone instead of eating with a work buddy or group of colleagues. This gives you an extra hour or so each day to relax and clear you mind.
- Empathize with others when they’re having a bad day but avoid engaging in their bad mood. That way, you won’t take on any unnecessary stress, anxiety or baggage that isn’t yours.
- Resist the urge to participate in the workplace and personal gossip. Not only can gossiping erode trust, but it can also bring guilt, depression and anxiety.
- Establish consistent work hours and stick to them. This lets colleagues and clients know when you’re available to discuss business issues.
- Set up your instant messaging and send your phone to voice mail when you’re working on a project. Taking this action will help you eliminate disruptions and complete the task at hand.
- Before you go on vacation or take time off, call your clients to let them know the days that you’ll be out of the office. It may be helpful to send a follow-up email as well. Be sure to let them know who to contact in case they have an urgent request. That way, you can enjoy your time off with minimal interruptions.
Tip #3: Practice Time Management Techniques
Effective time management is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. You can optimize your productivity and create more time for personal pursuits by managing your time efficiently.
One effective technique is identifying and focusing on high-value tasks that align with your goals and values.
Another valuable strategy is time blocking which allows you to allocate specific time slots for different activities, ensuring dedicated focus and avoiding multitasking.
You can also break tasks into smaller, manageable chunks to increase efficiency and reduce procrastination. Additionally, employing tools such as calendars, to-do lists, and productivity apps can help you track and manage tasks effectively.
Tip #4: Embrace Self Care
In the age of social media, being busy has become a badge of honor. It’s pretty common to see phrases such as #TeamNoSleep and #Grinding on social media posts about climbing the corporate ladder.
At work, we often take on more assignments than we can handle so our bosses will view us as a team player. In our personal lives, we shuttle our kids to all types of extracurricular activities, volunteer at local nonprofits, and complete a variety of household chores.
If our schedules are jam-packed with activities, when do we have time to take care of ourselves?
Practicing self-care is more than going to the spa or booking a luxurious vacation. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate production. There are plenty of simple ways to take care of yourself.
- Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated can stimulate the flow of nutrients throughout your body and boost endorphins.
- Take a walk or join an exercise class. Moving your body can boost your mood.
- Go outside and enjoy the sunshine.
- Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Tip #5: Stay Present in the Moment
Have you ever had so much to do that your mind is constantly jumping to the next thing while you’re in the midst of something else?
You could be in the midst of having dinner with your family but you’re preoccupied with an issue that you’re having at work.
To maintain our sanity and well-being, we need to form the habit of directing our awareness to the present moment. This allows us to develop a greater sense of self-awareness, reduce stress, and improve focus and decision-making skills.
Tip #6: Build a Strong Support Network
No matter how hard we try, we can’t achieve anything entirely by ourselves. We need a network of people that we can count on to help us navigate big and small situations.
A support network consists of individuals who offer encouragement, guidance, and a helping hand. They can be friends, family, mentors, or colleagues who share similar values and goals
Another thing to remember is your support network can consist of people that you hire such as a cleaning service, stylist, nanny, personal assistant, massage therapist or a ghost writer to help you author your new book.
Sometimes people who knew you before you built a successful career will try to shame you if you pay for services. Especially if you didn’t grow up with the means to hire people to help you.
They may even try to insinuate that you think you’re ‘too good’ to roll up your sleeves and take on certain tasks.
Ignore the naysayers and other people’s unsolicited opinions. If you have the resources to hire people to make your life easier, do it
Oprah Winfrey once said, “Women can have it all, but not all at once.”
It’s time to take off our Superwoman capes, release our need to save the world and ask for help.
Tip #7: Be Flexible and Adaptable
One thing is certain. Our life’s circumstances can change in an instant. We must be willing to make the necessary changes when new challenges arise.
Being flexible and adaptable is a crucial skill when it comes to navigating the complexities of our careers and personal life.
When life presents unexpected challenges, being rigid in our approach can lead to increased stress and dissatisfaction. Adjusting our plans, expectations, and mindset is the best way to respond when life throws us a curveball.
Tip #8: Simplify Your Calendar
Reducing the number of commitments on your calendar is a key step towards attaining a healthy work-life balance. Overloading our schedules with numerous commitments can lead to feelings of overwhelm, stress, and burnout.
By consciously evaluating and prioritizing our activities, we can create more space for rest, relaxation, and quality time with loved ones.
Decluttering our schedules allows us to adopt a more intentional approach to time management.
Here are some questions to consider as we determine which activities should stay or go.
- Does the activity fit the current me or old me?
- Do I enjoy this activity? If you don’t enjoy an activity, ask yourself why you keep doing it.
- Does this activity add value to me or my family’s life?
- What are your work and personal priorities at this stage in your life?
- Is there another person you can delegate the task to?
The good news is you can declutter your schedule one activity at a time. Start off slowly by adjusting the frequency that you do an activity.
Tip #9: Just Say No
There is freedom in saying no to obligations that aren’t right for us. Yet sometimes we struggle with turning down requests even if we have no desire to do them.
Learning to say “no” is a fundamental skill when it comes to maintaining work-life balance. We must learn to respectfully decline requests and obligations that do not align with our priorities.
Often, the fear of disappointing others or missing out drives us to overcommit ourselves, leading to overwhelm and imbalance.
Let’s normalize the habit of saying no without feeling the need to make up excuses or over-explain. A wise woman once said, “No is a complete sentence that doesn’t require justification.”
Tip #10: Say Yes to Things That Excite You
Embracing new challenges and leisure activities that genuinely excite us is a powerful way to infuse joy and fulfillment into our work and personal life. By saying “yes” to experiences that ignite our curiosity and enthusiasm, we open ourselves up to new possibilities, personal growth, and a renewed sense of purpose.
If we commit to these tips, we can take proactive steps toward reclaiming control over our lives. Cheers to your journey to a harmonious and thriving work-life balance!