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Work-Life Balance: Five Middle-Of-The-Workday Tips For Maintaining Balance
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Work-Life Balance: Five Middle-Of-The-Workday Tips For Maintaining Balance - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Five Middle-Of-The-Workday Tips For Maintaining Balance

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Five Middle-Of-The-Workday Tips For Maintaining Balance

Work-life balance is a big-picture, macro concept that requires serious prioritizing, constant adjustment, and regular evaluation. We've addressed several approaches--practical and philosophical--to finding and pursuing balance, and perhaps you've already found the approach that works for you. Yet whether you have adopted the framework that holds the big-picture concepts together or you still seek a model that resonates, you can reap balance-conducive benefits at the micro, small-picture level: those daily decisions and practices that nurture the parts of your body, mind, and soul not existing solely behind a desk with a wireless telephone receiver in your ear. None of the suggestions presented here are especially new or paradigm-breaking, but they are offered in hopes of inspiring a few microsteps toward maintaining your balance.

Take Care of Yourself
This is always an easy one to conceive, but it seems difficult to execute. Yet if we look around, we can see people taking care of themselves in the middle of their workdays all over. You've seen that person who spends half of her lunch hour on the cardio machines in the downtown gym, followed by a quick shower and a light lunch. You see her every day in the elevator and wish you could do what she's doing. There was a time when she wished the same thing, only she finally did something about it, and now it's part of her workday routine, as integral to her day as checking her email. Nobody's saying you have to be a five-day-a-week gym rat, but find some way to get some sunshine and fresh air, some time and place for a walk or even a nap, and put it on the schedule the way you would any important meeting, because that's what this is: a meeting with yourself.

Let Someone Else Take Care of You
This is probably not an everyday possibility, even under the best of working conditions, but consider a weekly lunch hour appointment to have someone take care of you. You take your car in every few weeks to be serviced; take yourself in similarly, once a week or so for the same thing. Most urban business districts have day spas, massage clinics, and nail salons. Make it a point to relax with a massage or mani-pedi, and do it regularly whether you feel you need it or not. If you can turn it into something social, inviting a friend along for the same treatment, you will find it easier to keep it up on a regular basis, scheduling things around it so as not to let your friend (or self) down.

Take Care of Others
Volunteering is one of those things that's on all our lists, but it always seems to work its way further down as the tyranny of the urgent and necessary takes over or schedules. But opportunities for serving others abound, and if you can offer an hour or two per week during your lunches, you might find several avenues for service you never considered. It might start off with shelving books at a nearby community library, often a very easy task to volunteer for, but as you habituate giving up a lunch hour here and there for others' benefit, you will hear about other services in need of assistance, possibly from your fellow volunteers. Homeless missions can use a hand during the lunch hour; local thrift stores can use someone to answer phones or stick price tags on merchandise; food banks and charity closets can use some sorting help.

Getting together with a group of non-work-related friends can be difficult and impractical to execute with too much frequency, but once a month is certainly doable. Whether it's high school classmates you run into here or there (always ending your brief conversations with, "We should get together for lunch someday"), friends from your church you generally only see in one context, or parents from your kids' school with whom you've connected, insert them into your workday on a regular basis to remind yourself (and them) that your social spheres are many and varied. It's so easy to surround ourselves with the people at work for part of our lives, and with our families for the other part, relegating everyone else to incidental run-ins or context-specific encounters, but it doesn't have to be this way. It's a challenge to work these other valued friends into our lives, but the rewards can be enormous.

By now, you've noticed that these suggestions have deliberately stayed away from using the middle of your workday for family-related maintenance. This is because, as your highest priority, family things are going to demand your time anyway. You're not going to go months without taking your kids to the water park, but you could go years without a massage, casual lunch with high-school classmates, or mid-day workout. Something else that always falls through the cracks is the pursuit of some leisure activity, because when you've got a healthy career and thriving family, when do you have any leisure? Your lunch hour is a perfect time for these pursuits, and they will help center you and soothe you as effectively as a massage or voluntary service. Take time for a short trip to the museum, a lunchtime concert, some cross-stitching, reading (no business and trade publications!), photography, online gaming, or musical instrument practice. You're a better person when these seemingly distant corners of your soul are attended to with regularity; don't let them grow stagnant with dust and cobwebs. Since you'll be using your lunch hour, nobody will begrudge you the time you spend, and you'll reignite some of your long-neglected passions.

The best thing about taking some time in the middle of your workday to assert the importance of other aspects of your life is that others will see you doing it, and they'll aspire to similar practice. If you're in a position of influence in the office, encourage others to do the same thing, and make it possible for them to do it. Trust that you'll get an honest day's work from them whether they take sixty minutes for lunch or ninety, and ask them about how they're pursuing balance in the middles of their days. Everyone's better off, including your organization, when contributors make the effort to keep their whole selves vibrant and healthy.


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Work-Life Balance: Five Middle-Of-The-Workday Tips For Maintaining Balance - Executive Leadership Articles

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