Originally written by Katey M. Budzynski, MPH
Originally published in SCACPA's CPA Report magazine
Remember the days when you left the office or the worksite at the end of the day and it was time to move on to your personal life? Our homes had a land line phone and possibly a computer, if you were “high tech” but it was “dial up”. There were no faxes, cell phones, or high speed connections. You were able to disengage from the job most of the time. The same scenario was true when you left your home to go work out, visit or go shopping. You had mental downtime as you left behind your home or work and went about your tasks or adventure with no cell phone connected to your ear. We weren’t in a constant state of multi tasking. We had the simple luxury of leisure time. Those days are long gone. The walls and roof of our homes no longer protect us from constant engagement. We are always “connectected.” All of today’s upgrades and conveniences can actually have a negative affect on our physical and mental health. Some of the consequences of poor work life balance include fatigue, anxiety and stress disorders, lost time with friends and family, increased expectations on the job, weight gain and a general dissatisfaction with life.
Do not despair. If you can relate to this information, you can also evaluate your current situation. There is always an opportunity for change. How can we reclaim control in our lives and beat potential burnout? Read on to see how a little restructuring in your life can go a long way!
1. Be Proactive with Scheduling – Building downtime into your schedule is a must. We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the continuous cycle of busy work. Plan your days and week ahead, make a point to actually schedule time with your families and friends and activities that help you recharge.
2. Reduce or Remove Activities that Zap Your Energy or Time – Many people tend to waste their time on people or activities that add no value to their lives. The office mate or friend who tends to drop the weight of their world on your shoulders, the office gossiper, the complaining neighbor. These folks will never enhance your career or personal life and frankly they are an emotional drain to the system. Try to steer clear of these personality types or minimize the time you allow them to take from you.
3. It’s OK to Say “No” - Whether it is a co-worker asking you to spearhead an extra project, a friend asking for your professional advice, the sports team putting the pressure on to lead the fundraiser because you are the organized parent etc. If you are a leader or a take charge person, people notice. By respectfully saying no to the activities you truly don’t have time for, or that you don’t enjoy, you will allow yourself more meaningful time for the obligations you can and should commit to.
4. Get Moving – Exercise tends to get lost in the shuffle when our schedule is jam packed. We find it hard to justify working out when there is just too much to do, but experts tell us that it may ultimately help us get more done by boosting our energy level and our ability to concentrate. Try a little test on yourself. The next time you are sitting at your desk fatigued, or frustrated, get up and take a brisk 10 minute walk. Evaluate your state of mind when you get back. Most likely you will be more alert and productive.
5. Remember Life is a Marathon not a Sprint - Try not to get overwhelmed thinking you need to make so many changes tomorrow. A little goes a long way. Bring balance to your life by focusing on the important things each day. Slowly build in the activities that are more meaningful to you, readjust your schedule when it is realistic and remember to take care of yourself.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Professional Help – We all need help with something from time to time. We visit our primary care physician to keep our bodies healthy; we seek advice from an attorney on legal issues. Our mental health is equally as important. Find out if your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Many times it is part of your benefit package and offers a variety of options for employees. You don’t have to wait for a crisis situation to find out about your EAP. Ask about it today so you will be prepared to take advantage of the services if and when you need them.