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Most employees believe that their careers still dominate their lives, even though they are constantly being sold on the promise of work-life balance. While many organizations strongly promote balance and healthy living, people may still find themselves challenged to find some real time to unplug and relax, or even get away, before re-engaging in their ongoing life demands.
There are even alarming statistics now showing that work-life balance may no longer exist, with 38 percent of employees sharing that they still miss important life events (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries) because of bad work-life balance practices. And, 60 percent of employees blame bad bosses – overbearing or demanding leaders – for negatively impacting work-life balance and hindering their ability to unplug.
Of course, while it’s always easy to point the finger at others and blame them for things spinning out of control, some experts believe that the only one to blame is the man or woman that’s starring back at you from the mirror. Below are a few strategies you should consider adding to your personal work-life balance tool kit so you can be empowered to take more control and have the balanced life that you deserve.
You’d be surprised at how many people don’t actually take advantage of their leave time. Since you have vacation time and personal paid time off, why don’t you just use it? In fact, at least once a quarter you need to find a way to take a small break, a staycation, or even a small weekend trip to recharge. In addition, at least once a year, plan a longer trip or a great vacation.
There are even some new tech tools in place for overstressed and overburdened women who struggle with getting away, like JOZU for Women. The site provides customized travel packages uniquely designed to meet the lifestyle demands of women that offer features which make it safer them to travel and to book getaways quickly.
According to Stephenie Rodriguez, CEO and Founder of JOZU for Women, who e-mailed with me, “The demand for real life experiences will soon start to overtake the need for materialism, as women continue to leverage their purchasing power to gain more balance by taking more breaks. In fact, many are now starting to realize that having enough is more satisfying that trying to have it all. ‘Enough’ is when no matter where we are on the corporate ladder, we choose to reward ourselves for work well done by taking the time to explore new destinations and enjoy the things that we absolutely love to do.” She shared the following recommendations:
Saying “no,” is a simple truth that we’ve been told for years but for some reason many of us still have not mastered it. Furthermore, the many things we agreed to do at work and in our personal lives can easily eat away at the precious time we have left in our day. Learning to just say “no” to things that are not critical, or even things that you simply just don’t want to do, is a great way to take control of your life.
For example, if a demanding boss is requiring you to take on an additional project, take a stand by asking him/her if it’s ok for you to invite other colleagues to assist you so you can share the work-load. You will be surprised at how this simple task will significantly reduce your “to-do” list and allow you to squeeze in a little more “me” time.
Once you’ve learned how to say “no,” you must learn how to get rid of the guilt. Isn’t it funny that many of us complain about needing a break, but as soon as we finally stand up for ourselves and take control, as women we often feel a sense of guilt afterwards? That’s why it’s important to shake off the guilt and recognize that the world won’t come to an end just because you decided to unplug from it for a while. You’ll be grateful that you rewarded yourself with the physical and mental break you deserve.
It’s true, the technology age sold us all on the importance of staying connected and living a more innovative lifestyle. From the beepers and pagers of the past to the advanced smartphones and mobile tablets that we have today – no one seems to know how to disconnect. But these tech tools have now taught us, if you want balance, you’ll have to fight for it. So with this in mind, set parameters on when you will unplug each day, like during dinner time (especially if you are out on a date). Also, set personal goals like not checking email after 7 pm each day or not accepting work related calls after a specific time. You will find that disconnecting will actually allow you to take a breather and be better able to engage and serve others once you plug back in.
By following these simple strategies, you will soon realize that work-life balance is not dead at all. In fact, it’s actually alive and well, but we have to keep it alive by setting guidelines and drawing lines that protect our personal and mental space. Ironically, by taking the time to recharge and refresh, you’ll find yourself becoming more motivated and highly productive because you’ll have the energy and inspiration to perform at your absolute best.
Thunderbird School of Global Management Alumna Dana Manciagli '84 is the author of "Cut the crap, Get a job". With her 'Career Mojo' column, Dana is the sole syndicated career columnist for the Business Journal nationwide. Her remarkable profile includes a career in global sales and marketing for Fortune 500 corporations like Microsoft, IBM, and Kodak. She has coached, interviewed and hired thousands of job seekers. This article was originally published on her website.
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