Last week’s post addressed the underlying flaw in finding the perfect “balance” of work and life. Whether you call it work-life balance, fulfillment, focus, or any number of terms, what really matters is that you know the areas of concern in your life and give them attention. It is not necessary that you give them equal time blocks of attention; it is necessary to pay attention to what is needed, and then take steps to fill that need.
For example: if you are preparing to take an important test (such as a certification exam for a nursing license), study is going to need a larger proportion of your time until the test date. If you pay focused attention to that, you block off study and review time into your schedule. In and around that, you also pay attention to giving your body study breaks and adequate rest so that you are prepared for the exam mentally and physically. It might mean temporarily “giving up” other activities that you enjoy…knowing that you can pick them up again when the time is right.
Paying attention to what is needed will help you find the right mix of activities that bring you satisfaction, both in work and out. Here are 5 things to give your attention to that will help as you explore work-life balance.
Pay attention to your work. That means when you are at work, work. Many people have difficulty managing their time so that work tasks are completed. There are many distractions that take you away from your work tasks — resulting in mistakes, loss of productivity, and even working extended hours. By focusing on your tasks at work, you will be more fulfilled and more productive…potentially giving yourself more leisure time.
Pay attention to your physical and emotional well-being. What needs your attention? Is it nutrition? exercise? stress-reducing activities? talking with someone? sleep? The physical realm is often one of the most-neglected areas of our lives. Decide which of these need your attention and take steps to strengthen this area of your life. NOTE: Notice the difference between taking steps to “balance” and taking steps to “strengthen.”
Pay attention to your people. Who is important in your life? Are you giving these relationships the attention and care they need? Do some people need more attention during a period of time than others? Take a few minutes to reflect on the people that are important to you (and who honor you with importance) and decide how to best nurture those relationships. *NOTE: Again, notice the difference between “balance” and “nurture.” At any given time, some relationships will necessarily need more time. This ebbs and flows with the passing of time. A sick child today will probably not need as much attention in a week or two.
Pay attention to your finances. This is a necessary component of life today. Pay attention to (or create) your budget; know what is coming in and going out. Pay attention to short-term and long-term goals for your financial future. Pay attention to savings/debts; know what you need to save for and what you need to pay for. Pay attention to your taxes. Take steps to strengthen your financial situation. You’ll be glad you did.
Pay attention to your spiritual well-being. This is an intensely personal thing that is not easily defined. One way to view our spirituality is the feeling that we are all connected to something larger than ourselves, something that connects us to all humanity and to the world. If you have a spiritual path that needs attention, you will feel a “pull” and a longing to reconnect yourself to your spirituality. *NOTE: Some people do not define themselves as “spiritual.” If you do not identify with a specific spiritual path or faith, one thing to investigate is your connection to the greater good and the whole of the earth…to sense your belonging and your value.
We’ve all heard the saying “Life is a Balancing Act.” Whether you seek to balance the areas of concern in your life or to integrate them in a fluid way, you will open possibilities when you give appropriate attention to what is needed. You will release the need to compartmentalize your work/life, and find greater fulfillment instead.