“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” ~ Stephen R. Covey
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As a forty-something female physician, the concept of work-life balance continues to be allusive to me. Can we truly find a balance between work and the rest of our life, or perhaps to more accurately put it, can we find balance in work-life and home-life?
My husband and I had both of our children during our residencies and first 2 ½ years of my practice, leading me to feel imbalanced from the get go. Subsequently, I have had times during my career where I worked more than I wanted, worked less than I felt I should (notice I didn’t say wanted to), and more rare times like right now, where I feel I am working the right amount. That is just one side of the work-life balance equation.
On the flip side, sometimes we can have our work-life balanced but our home-life is imbalanced. I would argue that this is more dangerous, but fortunately, may be easier to modify. Can this pendulum ever truly come to rest at its fulcrum?
Finding work-life & home-life balance
Every phase of life has its unique challenges to finding balance, but by incorporating some core principles, we can enable ourselves the opportunity to strive to achieve that desired goal. The following 3 simple steps are a good place to start.
#1 – Sort out what is important versus what is urgent
I have discussed this concept before in a previous post, Key to Stress Management – Time Management, from the teachings of the late Stephen Covey in his book First Things First. My take-away message from this invaluable book is that if we spend more time dealing with things that are important, such as planning, preparing and personal development, we spend less time in the ‘crisis/deadline’ mode that lends itself to feeling frenzied and imbalanced.
One way that I have found to be an effective approach is to not keep an exhaustive to-do list (like I used to), but rather write down 3 ‘musts-dos’ each day. You can either do this for both work-life and home-life separately, or as I do, approach it more globally. For instance, #1 may be a business meeting which is deemed important for your career and #2 may be getting groceries which is deemed important for your family.
#2 – Spend more time being & less time doing
Fortunately, word is getting out that running around proclaiming how busy we are doesn’t either serve us or anyone around us. As mentioned above, creating ‘busyness’ often prevents us from tackling the truly important things in life. According to the article by Nellie Akalp, How to Escape Being Too Busy to Get Anything Done, one common type of busy is really “Putting off the hard stuff”. The easiest way around this is to give ourselves persmission to ‘just be’. To further this point, I came across a video via Melli O’Brien, also known as Mrs. Mindfulness, that is a reminder to #LetGo and spend more time being, rather than doing.
#3 – Incorporate more use of the word ‘no’ into your vocabulary
Ironically, one of our first words ever spoken as an infant ends up being one of the hardest words to say as an adult. As I have discussed in a previous post, How to Politely Decline – The Art of Saying ‘No’, learning to politely decline without making excuses, is essential to finding balance with all things that serve us in life, and in turn, to our overall well-being. It not only helps us set boundaries, but also, helps us from falling prey to other people’s agendas.
Do you feel that you have achieved a sense of balance in your work-life and home-life?